Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)

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Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)

Post  BoG on Fri Feb 27, 2015 1:34 pm

Leonard Nimoy, ‘Star Trek’s’ Spock, Dies at 83


Leonard Nimoy lived up to his longtime catchphrase: Live long and prosper. Having achieved success in many arenas during his lifetime, the actor, director, writer and photographer died Friday in Los Angeles of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 83.

I heard that he was ill and in the hospital a couple of days ago and got a bad feeling about it; unfortunately, it did turn out bad. However, as mentioned above and detailed below, he had a very successful life and career, not something one would assume based on his early years in the movie business, when it looked like he was destined to go on as a small-time character actor or bit player. Star Trek changed all that and allowed him to expand his interests into other fields: besides photography, poetry and songwriting, he became a big-time film director in the late eighties.

Though best known by a wide margin for his Spock role in Star Trek TV and films, Nimoy's career goes way back to the early fifties, when he made appearances in other sci-fi properties. Many fans site his role in the sci-fi serial Zombies of the Stratosphere (1952) as his start in science fiction; he played an alien.  He also showed up in one scene as an army sergeant in THEM! (54), the one about the giant ants. He was made up as an old man for a small role in The Brain Eaters (58).  Besides such small film roles, Nimoy guested in numerous episodes of various TV series early in his career, such as on Broken Arrow, Sea Hunt, Wagon Train and The Twilight Zone ("Quality of Mercy"). He was in a couple of Outer Limits episodes, including "I Robot" (64) and first appeared with William Shatner in an episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. "The Project Strigas Affair" (1964).
STAR TREK "Galileo 7"
________________ ABOVE: other crew members wait for Spock to explain something, among them
________________ James Doohan as Scotty on the left and Deforest Kelley as McCoy on the right

He first played the half human/half Vulcan Spock in the original TV pilot "The Cage" (1965) and it almost ended for Nimoy there. The TV network requested a 2nd pilot and didn't want the Spock character, who looked faintly Satanic. But, Gene Roddenberry favored both the character and the actor, and returned him in the 2nd Star Trek pilot, Where No Man Has Gone Before (1966). Spock was the first officer and science officer aboard the starship Enterprise, commanded by Capt. Kirk (William Shatner) on a voyage of space exploration and patrol. Nimoy as Spock soon proved to be even more popular than Kirk, mostly with female fans who were fascinated by his enigmatic, thoughtful approach and saturnine looks. Nimoy also proved to be a creative participant; he was the one who suggested the Vulcan nerve pinch in an early episode instead of simply striking someone from behind and he came up with the Vulcan hand salute.
The SyFy Channel will honor Nimoy
with a 5-hour marathon on March 1st
The Star Trek show was cancelled after 3 seasons and Nimoy might have found himself in limbo and typecast like a few of the other Trek actors, but he immediately got the role of disguise expert Paris on Mission:Impossible for 2 seasons. He then played a bearded villain in the western Catlow (71), which starred Yul Brynner. He also tried his hand at made-for-TV films, such as Baffled and The Alpha Caper (both TV-73), but not nearly as much as Shatner. He provided his voice for the animated version of Star Trek in 1973. He guest starred on TV in Night Gallery and Columbo. In 1975, he had his biography/essay published, "I Am Not Spock" (20 years later, he followed this with the book "I am Spock"). His TV/film appearances petered out in the 2nd half of the decade, as he switched to the stage, to the plays Sherlock Holmes and Equus; just before the first Trek film, he had a supporting role in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers film remake in 1978.
During all this time in the seventies, the popularity of Star Trek was growing leaps and bounds with Trek conventions and the show being broadcast to a growing legion of fans in syndication. Nimoy returned to the Spock character in the big budget film Star Trek the Motion Picture (79), the first of a 6-movie franchise in which Nimoy would continue to play his signature role. Though his character perished at the end of Star Trek II:The Wrath of Khan (82), he returned in Star Trek III:The Search For Spock (84). This latter film also marked his directorial debut; he expressed an interest in directing and it dovetailed neatly with the question of whether Spock would return. Nimoy experienced even better results with Star Trek IV:The Voyage Home (86), his 2nd try at directing; the film was the most popular of the franchise, gaining an audience outside the usual fan base due to its entertaining nature. Nimoy went on to direct outside the Trek universe: he had a big success with Three Men and a Baby (87) and went on to The Good Mother (88) and Funny About Love (90).

Nimoy was content to just act in Star Trek V:The Final Frontier (89-Shatner took over directing, with less stellar results), though he contributed to the story of Star Trek VI:The Undiscovered Country (91). He also played Spock in a couple of episodes of Star Trek TNG ("Unification"), where he was supposedly much older. This seemed to be an end to his famous character, but he popped up again much later in the Star Trek reboot of 2009 and also did a cameo in the 2013 sequel. He was one half of the BIG TWO (with Shatner) in the Star Trek phenomenon which has now spanned 50 years and, with his passing, an era has definitely come to an end. R.I.P.
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