Leonard Nimoy, famous as Mr. Spock on 'Star Trek,' dies
LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 22: Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock and William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk in the STAR TREK episode, 'Plato's Stepchildren.' Original air date, November 22, 1968. Season 3, episode 10. Image is a screen grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
After William Shatner said that he wouldn't be able to make it to Leonard Nimoy's funeral on Sunday due to a prior commitment he had for the Red Cross Ball in Florida on Saturday night, he honored his words by saying he would remember his friend and celebrate his life.
Leonard Nimoy & William Shatner during Mind Meld: Secrets Behind the Voyage of a Lifetime In Store at FYE Store in Century City, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
American actor Leonard Nimoy appears as Mr. Spock in a scene from 'The Man Trap,' the premiere episode of 'Star Trek,' which aired on September 8, 1966. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)
The New York Times has confirmed the actor, best known for his role as Dr. Spock in 'Star Trek,' died at his home friday morning in Los Angeles.
It’s only surrendering slightly to hyperbole to say that, for many people, Leonard Nimoy was 'Star Trek'. Certainly, Spock - the emotionless Vulcan who nonetheless acted as an everyman as often as he did a dispassionate outsider - was not only the role he was most often associated with, it is the longest-loved character inside the franchise, with Nimoy appearing both in the very first episode filmed and the most recent movie, 2013’s 'Star Trek Into Darkness'.
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 15: Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock and Nichelle Nichols as Lieutenant Uhura in the STAR TREK episode, 'Charlie X.' Season 1, episode, 2. Original air date September 15, 1966. Image is a screen grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 22: Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock in the STAR TREK episode, 'Where No Man Has Gone Before.' Season 1, Episode 3. Original air date, September 22, 1966. Image is a frame grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
circa 1967: American actor Leonard Nimoy wears a starship uniform as Mr Spock in a promotional portrait for the science fiction television series, 'Star Trek'. (Photo by NBC Television/Getty Images)
American actor Leonard Nimoy, circa 1967. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - AUGUST 5: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE Leonard Nimoy as Paris in 'Fool's Gold'. Image dated August 5, 1969. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 19: Leonard Nimoy as Paris in the Mission Impossible episode, 'The Killer.' Original air date, September 19, 1970. Image is a frame grab. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
Promotional headshot of the actor Leonard Nimoy, as he appears in the movie 'Catlow', 1971. (Photo by Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection/Getty Images)
William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy during 59th Annual Academy Awards at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 9: Leonard Nimoy and Susan Bay attend 17th Annual American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Awards Honoring Gregory Peck on March 9, 1989 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Actor Leonard Nimoy poses for a photograph in New York City on April 28, 1999. Photo by Todd Plitt/ImageDirect*** SPECIAL RATES APPLY ***
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 25: Actor Leonard Nimoy presents his photography exhibition and his book 'Shekhina' at the Skirball Cultural Center on September 25,2002 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michel Boutefeu/Getty Images)
BURBANK, CA - APRIL 26: Actor Leonard Nimoy attends the 13th Annual Hollywood Charity Horse Show at Burbank Equestrian Center on April 26, 2003 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Robert Mora/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - AUGUST 9: Actor Leonard Nimoy promotes the 'Star Trek' 40th Anniversary on the TV Land network at the Four Seasons hotel August 9, 2006 in Los Angeles, California. Episodes of the show will air September 8. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Susan Bay and Leonard Nimoy (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - APRIL 26: Leonard Nimoy at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, California on April 26, 2009. (Photo by Munawar Hosain/Fotos International/Getty Images) Reproduction by American tabloids is absolutely forbidden.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 22 -- Pictured: (l-r) Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nimoy, Chris Pine, Seth Meyers during the 'Weekend Update' skit on May 9, 2009 (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Former Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy speaks to the media at the 26th National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S., on Thursday, April 15, 2010. The symposium is put on by the Space Foundation. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
BOSTON - MAY 20: Actor Leonard Nimoy makes the gesture that made him famous when he played Spock on Star Trek, after receiving his honorary degree during the Boston University commencement cereomony on Nickerson Field in Boston, Mass. on Sunday, May 20, 2012. (Photo by Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
WESTWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 24: Susan Bay Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy at the Hammer Museum gala in the garden on September 24, 2011 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/WireImage)
BOSTON - MAY 9: Leonard Nimoy delivers a lecture to more than 1,000 people as a guest of the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Boston University's Metcalf Hall on Monday, May 9, 2011. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 06: Actor Leonard Nimoy attends Entertainment Weekly's CapeTown Film Festival presented by The American Cinematheque and sponsored by TNT's 'Falling Skies' at the Egyptian Theatre on May 6, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Leonard Nimoy attends Walter Koenig's induction into the Hollywood Walk of Fame on September 10, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 14: Actor Leonard Nimoy arrives at the premiere of Paramount Pictures' 'Star Trek Into Darkness' at the Dolby Theatre on May 14, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Leonard Nimoy, the actor known and loved by generations of "Star Trek" fans as the pointy-eared, purely logical science officer Mr. Spock, has died.
Nimoy died Friday of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at his Los Angeles home, said his son, Adam Nimoy. He was 83.
Although Nimoy followed his 1966-69 "Star Trek" run with a notable career as both an actor and director, in the public's mind he would always be Spock. His half-human, half-Vulcan character was the calm counterpoint to William Shatner's often-emotional Captain Kirk on one of TV and film's most revered cult series.
"He affected the lives of many," Adam Nimoy said. "He was also a great guy and my best friend."
Asked if his father chafed at his fans' close identification of him with his character, Adam Nimoy said, "Not in the least. He loved Spock."
However, Leonard Nimoy displayed ambivalence to the role in the titles of his two autobiographies, "I Am Not Spock" (1975) and "I Am Spock" (1995).
After "Star Trek" ended, the actor immediately joined the hit adventure series "Mission Impossible" as Paris, the mission team's master of disguises.
From 1976 to 1982, he hosted the syndicated TV series "In Search of ... ," which attempted to probe such mysteries as the legend of the Loch Ness Monster and the disappearance of aviator Amelia Earhart.
He played Israeli leader Golda Meir's husband opposite Ingrid Bergman in the TV drama "A Woman Called Golda" and Vincent van Gogh in "Vincent," a one-man stage show on the life of the troubled painter. He continued to work well into his 70s, playing gazillionaire genius William Bell in the Fox series "Fringe."
He also directed several films, including the hit comedy "Three Men and a Baby" and appeared in such plays as "A Streetcar Named Desire," "Cat on a Hot Tim Roof," "Fiddler on the Roof," "The King and I," "My Fair Lady" and "Equus." He also published books of poems, children's stories and his own photographs.
But he could never really escape the role that took him overnight from bit-part actor status to TV star, and in a 1995 interview he sought to analyze the popularity of Spock, the green-blooded space traveler who aspired to live a life based on pure logic.
People identified with Spock because they "recognize in themselves this wish that they could be logical and avoid the pain of anger and confrontation," Nimoy concluded.
"How many times have we come away from an argument wishing we had said and done something different?" he asked.
In the years immediately after "Star Trek" left television, Nimoy tried to shun the role, but he eventually came to embrace it, lampooning himself on such TV shows as "Futurama," "Duckman" and "The Simpsons" and in commercials.
He became Spock after "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry was impressed by his work in guest appearances on the TV shows "The Lieutenant" and "Dr. Kildare."
The space adventure set in the 23rd century had an unimpressive debut on NBC on Sept. 8, 1966, and it struggled during its three seasons to find an audience other than teenage boys. It seemed headed for oblivion after it was canceled in 1969, but its dedicated legion of fans, who called themselves Trekkies, kept its memory alive with conventions and fan clubs and constant demands that the cast be reassembled for a movie or another TV show.
Trekkies were particularly fond of Spock, often greeting one another with the Vulcan salute and the Vulcan motto, "Live Long and Prosper," both of which Nimoy was credited with bringing to the character. He pointed out, however, that the hand gesture was actually derived from one used by rabbis during Hebraic benedictions.
When the cast finally was reassembled for "Star Trek - The Motion Picture," in 1979, the film was a huge hit and five sequels followed. Nimoy appeared in all of them and directed two. He also guest starred as an older version of himself in some of the episodes of the show's spinoff TV series, "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
"Of course the role changed my career- or rather, gave me one," he once said. "It made me wealthy by most standards and opened up vast opportunities. It also affected me personally, socially, psychologically, emotionally. ... What started out as a welcome job to a hungry actor has become a constant and ongoing influence in my thinking and lifestyle."
In 2009, he was back in a new big-screen version of "Star Trek," this time playing an older Spock who meets his younger self, played by Zachary Quinto. Critic Roger Ebert called the older Spock "the most human character in the film."
Among those seeing the film was President Barack Obama, whose even manner was often likened to Spock's.
"Everybody was saying I was Spock, so I figured I should check it out," Obama said at the time.
Upon the movie's debut, Nimoy told The Associated Press that in his late 70s he was probably closer than ever to being as comfortable with himself as the logical Spock always appeared to be.
"I know where I'm going, and I know where I've been," he said. He reprised the role in the 2013 sequel "Star Trek Into Darkness."
Born in Boston to Jewish immigrants from Russia, Nimoy was raised in an Italian section of the city where, although he counted many Italian-Americans as his friends, he said he also felt the sting of anti-Semitism growing up.
At age 17 he was cast in a local production of Clifford Odets' "Awake and Sing" as the son in a Jewish family.
"This role, the young man surrounded by a hostile and repressive environment, so touched a responsive chord that I decided to make a career of acting," he said later.
He won a drama scholarship to Boston College but eventually dropped out, moved to California and took acting lessons at the Pasadena Playhouse.
Soon he had lost his "Boston dead-end" accent, hired an agent and began getting small roles in TV series and movies. He played a baseball player in "Rhubarb" and an Indian in "Old Overland Trail."
After service in the Army, he returned to Hollywood, working as taxi driver, vacuum cleaner salesman, movie theater usher and other jobs while looking for acting roles.
In 1954 he married Sandra Zober, a fellow student at the Pasadena Playhouse, and they had two children, Julie and Adam. The couple divorced, and in 1988 he married Susan Bay, a film production executive.
Stars remember Leonard Nimoy:
Stars React to Leonard Nimoy's Death
Leonard Nimoy, famous as Mr. Spock on 'Star Trek,' dies
my heart is broken. i love you profoundly my dear friend. and i will miss you everyday. may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
"I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humor, his talent, and his capacity to love."
-William Shatner http://t.co/U8ZN98tVYp
Leonard Nimoy was more than Mr. Spock. But Mr. Spock is his gift to us all. Live long and prosper. HANX.
RIP Leonard Nimoy.... http://t.co/oDXjTn2DS3
Sad to hear about the passing of Leonard Nimoy. He was a true renaissance man. http://t.co/st6EsV82Gm
Leonard Nimoy! You will forever be part of us all! Rest. Rest with the angels.
I am devasted to learn that #LeonardNimoy has passed. Despite your passing your legacy will indeed #LiveLongAndProsper.
Leonard Nimoy brought us one of the greatest, noblest characters in the history of American storytelling. Someone find the Genesis planet.
no. no. no. no. so sad. leonard nimoy can't have died. #LeonardNimoy
One of the last interviews that Leonard Nimoy gave. I was an unashamed Trekkie in his presence. Such a great guy.
RIP Leonard Nimoy http://t.co/uIcnvI8wNN
I'm saddened to learn of Leonard Nimoy's passing. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. http://t.co/dOfN35Tt0y
RIP the great Leonard Nimoy! Live long and prosper! #RIPLeonardNimoy http://t.co/EFZMACu6fu
Has the Information Society released a statement yet? #RIPLeonardNimoy
"The miracle is this the more we share the more we have."-Leonard Nimoy LLAP http://t.co/L8q8JZBFkc”
This, too http://t.co/6ycS6YMF0V
Sad about #LeonardNimoy #rip :(
He created a role that nobody else could play. Multitalented writer,actor,director. A terrific&sweet man. RIP Leonard Nimoy #Spock #StarTrek
Live Long And Prosper. RIP Leonard Nimoy #Spock http://t.co/ywyZ7RGynd
RIP to the great #LeonardNimoy. http://t.co/HSH01k7MxR
"This is the Mugar Omni Theater." "...because he grew up six blocks from here." "Who put the bomp?" #LeonardNimoy
RIP #LeonardNimoy. A true Hollywood legend and icon who definitely lived long and prospered! https://t.co/s7Q6kEoxt1
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
This story contains biographical material compiled by late AP Entertainment Writer Bob Thomas.