Leonard Nimoy: Death Touches Us All
Leonard Nimoy’s signature character, Mr. Spock, and his “Live Long and Prosper” hand gesture
As part of the hipster/nerd generation whose lives have always been technologically enhanced by science fiction, I don’t remember the first time I heard the name “Leonard Nimoy.” It was many stardates ago.
Answering “Who played Spock?” was as natural as answering “Who was the first US President?” Nimoy’s was a name that became ingrained early and easily. As a child who admired, but blended, science fiction and fantasy, Spock’s elf-ish character didn’t seem particularly special, to me. Growing up, I have learned that Spock (and Star Trek‘s) distinction is not just in the intricacies of its sci-fi lore; it is in the fans.
Star Trek fans – known as “Trekkies” or “Trekkers” – are no joke. As a fan group, they are an unstoppable force. And for Leonard Nimoy, that force carried him through over 50 years of his career. Because of Trekkies, Nimoy is known as the face of one of the most striking, complicated, admired characters in all of science fiction.
Mr. Spock is the half-human, half-Vulcan science officer and first officer aboard the USS Starship Enterprise, serving under Captain James T. Kirk, in the original Star Trek TV series (and later adapted for films). The character became known for his logical and detached approach to all situations – a trademark of his Vulcan heritage – mixed with his intense emotional control and ambivalence – the endowment of his human psyche.
However, Leonard Nimoy was known in real life for being kind-hearted and having a boisterous sense of humor. He was an appreciator of all artistic beauty, especially photography. He created controversy with Shekhina, his series of photographs depicting semi-nude Jewish women in traditionally male clothing, and the Full Body Project, his series of photographs featuring obese women. And of course, his Secret Selves series, in which people revealed secrets to Nimoy’s camera and ears. Nimoy’s photography skills harmonized with a deeply emotional vision; a duet which enhances his acting legacy and reveals his essential humanity.
To add to his photographic skills, Nimoy was also a wordsmith. He wrote numerous non-fiction books, including his revealingly-titled I am not Spock in 1975 and I am Spock in 1995, as well as multiple collections of poetry, including Come be with me and Warmed by Love. Rarely is a man who is so gifted on one stage, equally excellent on another. His talents impressed fans with his warmth, depth, and perception in multiple art forms.
One of Leonard Nimoy’s biggest fans was his long-time friend, William “Bill” Shatner, who (of course) played Captain Kirk in the Star Trek series. Shatner has said that he realized early into the series that the two would become friends, and they remained close. For nearly 60 years.
Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner, sharing a laugh
Shatner couldn’t attend Nimoy’s funeral (and suffered a swell of public backlash and reprimand), so he hosted his own sort of healing session through Twitter conversations with other Nimoy fans. Shatner discussed with many people what Nimoy meant to him, and how affected his life has been by the loss of his friend.
Perhaps no words better express loss than Shatner’s. Words so simple, so universal, that they resonate in my own heart to speak of my own losses.
“Bill” also tweeted that Nimoy “never seemed to mind” when he privately called him “Lenny.”
Since Leonard Nimoy’s death, there has been a public outpouring of grief, love, and tribute from fans around the world, such as the billboard depicted above, in Atlanta. Like no one else, Star Trek fans will remember and honor the world-changing face of one of the most human aliens, and the man behind him.
On Everlasting Footprint, our entire community is collaborating to permanently honor and remember our loved ones, every day. Leonard Nimoy, and all our loved ones, remain in our hearts. Let’s continue to join and celebrate the lives of everyone. In the spirit of Nimoy, may we all live long and prosper.