An actor whose career included singing, directing, poetry, and photography, but who will forever be best known for an iconic TV character has died. Leonard Nimoy was 83 years old and passed away on February 27, 2015.
Nimoy’s earlier work might have gone unnoticed had he not played the role of Mr. Spock on the “Star Trek” TV series. Nimoy’s appearance in the 1952 movie serial “Zombies of the Stratosphere” came at a time when chapter plays were starting to wane due to the increasing popularity of television. However, due to his later TV stardom, that serial enjoyed a cult following among his many fans. In fact, during the early part of his career, he had to hold down other odd jobs to support his family, as acting was unable to sustain them.
Throughout the 1950s, Nimoy worked steadily on television, appearing on such programs as “Sea Hunt,” “Highway Patrol,” “Colt .45,” and a small role in the “Quality of Mercy” episode of “The Twilight Zone.” During the 1960s he appeared on several episodes of “Wagon Train,” as well as “Bonanza,” “The Rebel,” “Rawhide,” “The Untouchables,” “Perry Mason,” “Daniel Boone,” “The Virginian,” and “Get Smart.” Shortly before netting the “Star Trek” role, Nimoy appeared on stage in Gore Vidal’s “Visit to a Small Planet.”
As the half-Vulcan, half-human Spock on “Star Trek,” Leonard Nimoy’s career took off. It was a brilliant decision on his part, as he was also offered a regular role on the already established TV series “Peyton Place.” He turned that role down to give this new series a chance. From 1966 to 1969, “Star Trek” enjoyed popularity that has increased over the years, resulted in several TV and movie sequels and revisions, and interested new generations of fans. Nimoy earned three Emmy nominations for the role of Spock. He reprised the role on “Star Trek: The Animated Series,” two episodes of “Star Trek: The New Generation,” and in several “Star Trek movies that gathered most of the old cast. Nimoy directed two of these films, including “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home,” which was the most successful theatrical film of the franchise until the 2009 movie.
After TV’s “Star Trek” left the air, Nimoy replaced Martin Landau on “Mission Impossible.” He also made appearances on “Night Gallery,” “Columbo,” and in several television films, receiving another Emmy nomination for the TV movie “A Woman Called Golda” (1982) opposite Ingrid Bergman in her last role. Nimoy remained active on a variety of projects, announcing his retirement from acting to concentrate on photography in 2003. He never completely left acting, or the Spock character, as he was given approval of who would play the role in the popular 2009 film. In 2010, Nimoy retired all together.
Leonard Nimoy wrote a book called “I Am Not Spock” in 1975 dealing with the crisis of an actor being too closely identified with one role. Twenty years later he wrote the book “I Am Spock,” discussing how he embraced the character and that it enhanced rather than limited his career. He also wrote several poetry books (the latest in 2002), and recorded five albums on Dot records. He was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in 2014 and spent the last several months in and out of hospitals. He died at UCLA Medical Center.