Leonard Nimoy: An appreciation

3 minute read
Leonard Nimoy demonstrating the Vulcan salute at a 2011 Comicon. (Photo by Gage Skidmore via Creative Commons/Wikimedia)
Leonard Nimoy demonstrating the Vulcan salute at a 2011 Comicon. (Photo by Gage Skidmore via Creative Commons/Wikimedia)

For years, I was confused by Mr. Spock and Dr. Spock. I thought they were the same person. When I got older, I finally learned who Mr. Spock was. He died Friday, along with his portrayer, Leonard Nimoy. But his legacy will live long, and for that, we all prosper.

Spock is a pointy-eared Vulcan whom I came to know and love, but not from the original Star Trek series — I wasn’t here yet when that was on. I saw reruns, but only after my dad took me to see the Star Trek movies in the ‘80s. My favorite is Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Nimoy directed that one. It’s all about saving the whales, plus, it has the additional fun of seeing characters from the 23rd century trying to get by in the 20th. Spock struggles with trying to use certain “colorful metaphors” (i.e., profanity). Yes, Mr. Nimoy, I will forever say, “They are not the hell your whales.”

I loved his delivery. And being a Vulcan couldn’t have been easy. Vulcans don’t show their emotions. I can’t imagine acting with little emotion. It’s probably like writing shorter instead of longer — it’s actually difficult to say what you need to in fewer words. Shatner playing Capt. James T. Kirk had it easy, what with his over….acting….and…chewing….the….scenery. But Nimoy had to keep it under wraps, to make a character that couldn’t show emotions overtly likeable. And he succeeded.

Of course, he was only half-Vulcan. The other half was quite human, and he struggled to keep that under wraps, as so many do. He often failed, and that made us love him even more.

Stay true to yourself

After seeing the movies, I became a Trekkie and fell in love with Star Trek: The Next Generation. Spock showed up there, too. My favorite is a now-classic two-parter (“Unification”) in which he’s leading a group of Romulans, usually war lovers who enjoy showing a bit of anger now and then, who are secretly trying to reunite with their peace-loving under-emotive Vulcan cousins. He was Ambassador Spock then, a decorated and celebrated Starfleet officer. But he was also the son of Sarek, with whom he didn’t speak. Sarek was a true Vulcan and didn’t understand Spock or his humanness, which made him do things Sarek wouldn’t do (like risk everything for his friends — because that just wasn’t logical). Who can’t relate to doing something your parent thinks isn’t a good idea, but you do, so you do it anyway? Stay true to yourself — a Spock message that stuck with me.

Eighty-three years is a long life, but at the end, for him and for those who loved him, not long enough. It never can be. But the already-overwhelming social media reaction, almost all ending with his signature LLAP (“Live Long and Prosper”) — he even signed his tweets that way — demonstrates just how far-reaching the life of an actor portraying a part can be. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t know Spock. And with his legacy of films and TV (and poetry and photography, which some don’t know of, but now they will), Spock and Nimoy will live on, into the 23rd century and beyond.

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