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February 28, 2015

FINAL TREK FOR LEONARD NIMOY

This is a piece of early 'Star Trek' publicity that shows the more human side of everyone's favorite Vulcan. Nimoy is obviously at home, grokking on a filk tune or two. (c) NBC

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Buckets of tears have flowed from the public on news of the passing of actor Leonard Nimoy. Forever associated with his Star Trek character, the Vulcan Mr. Spock, Nimoy left this mortal earth today at the age if 83. He had been in ill health for quite a while.

 

Nimoy's 'Spock' engages in a high-level game of three-dimensional chess. The costume and make-up design in this still indicate this photo was taken during production of the second pilot film. (c) NBC

Nimoy’s ‘Spock’ engages in a high-level game of three-dimensional chess. The costume and make-up design in this still indicate this photo was taken during production of the second pilot film. (c) NBC

 

Nimoy and Spock have been a cultural icon for almost 50 years. The saturnine Vulcan was an instant hit when the series premiered in 1966. The role initially scared the bejeesus out of NBC–they were afraid his devilish features would repulse good Christian viewers. Instead, women swooned over him and male geeks were drawn to his stoic, logical-only view of life.

 

This is a piece of early 'Star Trek' publicity that shows the more human side of everyone's favorite Vulcan. Nimoy is obviously at home, grokking on a filk tune or two. (c) NBC

This is a piece of early ‘Star Trek’ publicity that shows the more human side of everyone’s favorite Vulcan. Nimoy is obviously at home, grokking on a filk tune or two. (c) NBC

 

Not quite an overnight sensation, Nimoy was a struggling actor for many years. He appeared in such low-budget potboilers like ‘Kid Monk Baroni’ and ‘Francis Goes to West Point.’ Spock was not his first alien role as he played an other-wordly invader in the 1952 serial, ‘Zombies of the Stratosphere.’

 

Nimoy and William Shatner ham it up for the publicity camera--each in their own way. His stoic demeanor portrays Spock's cold nature while Captain Kirk frolics with the ladies. This still is from the classic Trek episode, 'Mudd's Women.' (c) NBC

Nimoy and William Shatner ham it up for the publicity camera–each in their own way. His stoic demeanor portrays Spock’s cold nature while Captain Kirk frolics with the ladies. This still is from the classic Trek episode, ‘Mudd’s Women.’ (c) NBC

 

When Star Trek folded in 1969, Nimoy moved to another sound-stage on the Paramount lot when he was added to the cast of Mission Impossible. He continued to work in episodic television and the occassional feature.

When the big-budget Star Trek films began, Nimoy agreed to reprise his role of Spock. He even went on to direct a couple entries in the series, as well as a handful of other movies.

 

Two characters cut from the same cloth. Nimoy reprised his role of Spock for a 1991 episode of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation.' Here he is alongside calculating android Data (Brent Spiner). (c) Paramount Television

Two characters cut from the same cloth. Nimoy reprised his role of Spock for a 1991 episode of ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation.’ Here he is alongside calculating android Data (Brent Spiner). (c) Paramount Television

Financial freedom allowed him to pursue his love of photography. This was the circumstance under which i had my first and only meeting with him. Nimoy was the featured speaker at the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival in 2005. I ponied up the $50 to hear him speak, and it was worth every cent. He gave a wonderful talk about his life and his passion for photography.

I had expected a contingent of Trek fans to show up. But the event was attended mainly by stodgy businessmen and their wives. And not a one of them was wearing pointed ears.

Afterwards, he signed copies of his new photo book. He could not have been nicer. I made him a gift of several photos of him from his TV mini-series, ‘Marco Polo.’┬áHe was tickled to death to receive them and thanked me profusely.

It made me happy to give a little something back in return for those magical 80 episodes of Star Trek, which influenced me—and so many others—in such a positive way.






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