Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Final Frontier: Farewell To A Legend

Some links before getting underway today. Norma wrote about her mind wandering. Yesterday having had been a Friday, Parsnip had a Square Dog Friday. Cheryl had a look at winter in her area. Lynn had snow birds. Mark paid tribute to the subject of today's blog. And the Whisk had a Friday Question.

“My parents came to the US as immigrants, aliens, and became citizens. I was born in Boston, a citizen, went to Los Angeles, and became an alien.”  ~ Leonard Nimoy

“Spock, do you want to know something? Everybody’s human.” ~ James Kirk 
“I find that remark… insulting.” ~ Spock

“If I were human, I believe my response would be ‘go to hell.’ If I were human.” ~ Spock

“I think it’s my adventure, my trip, my journey, and I guess my attitude is, let the chips fall where they may.”  ~ Leonard Nimoy

The world seems a bit less bright today. The passing of a sci-fi legend has that effect. Leonard Nimoy has passed away at home after dealing with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was eighty three, a good age and a mark of a life well lived. An actor and a director, he will be forever linked to a single character and a franchise: Mr. Spock, and Star Trek.

Nimoy came from outsider roots, born in Boston, the son of Russian Orthodox Jewish immigrants. Perhaps that was fitting for the eventual role. He was an actor getting steady parts in a variety of roles when Gene Roddenberry came calling for his series, essentially a pioneer tale set among the stars. Playing the alien was something he wasn’t quite certain of, and in fact he would spend a good deal of his career trying to come to terms with the fame that Spock gave him, and how closely tied it was to his life. The character, a human-Vulcan hybrid, was an outsider, the lone Vulcan in a crew consisting mostly of humans. Spock’s unlikely friendship with Captain Kirk, played by William Shatner, was the bedrock of the series, the two characters vastly different and yet completely in sync with each other (Spock’s regular tendency to annoy Doctor McCoy was another factor in that). He was a contrast to his castmates, his character being a logical figure with a detached, rational world view. And not much of a sense of humour.

The original series ran for three seasons, but found fresh life in syndication, giving the cast an enduring legacy. It would spawn movies, more television series, and a wealth of books and other media. Nimoy would return as Spock eight times in various films, directing the films twice, in the case of Star Trek III: The Search For Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Among his other work, Nimoy would also direct Three Men And A Baby, the comedy about three bachelors suddenly caught up with a baby in their midst, a film that would be hugely successful at the box office and a favourite ever since. In the director's chair, he had a way of bringing out the humanity in the story. That certainly seems to fit with the man himself, who came across as someone of warmth, humour, and empathy.

It was Spock, though, that stuck with him. That sage of a character, the quintessential outsider, seemed to strike a chord with many people, even if they weren’t rabid Star Trek fans. It got to him for a time- he wrote an autobiography in the mid Seventies titled I Am Not Spock, but in time that world view changed, and he seemed to have accepted the fame that came with the character. He would say years later, “I admire him, I like him, and I respect him. I would rather be identified with Spock than any other character on television.” As time moved on, perhaps, it had become more obvious that Star Trek in general and Spock in particular had transcended popular culture and became a classic. To be remembered for such a role and such a character is, after all, a good thing.

I am struck by some of the reactions that I’ve seen on social media. Astronaut Chris Hadfield tweeted yesterday “Leonard, you lived long and prospered, and were an inspiration to me and to millions.” Jonathan Frakes, another Star Trek alumni who featured in The Next Generation as Commander Riker, and directed films in the franchise as well, tweeted: “RIP to the best First Officer.” George Takei noted, “Today the world lost a great man and I lost a great friend. We return you now to the stars, Leonard. You taught us to live long and prosper.” William Shatner had this to say: “I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humor, his talent, and his capacity to love.”

It’s perhaps fitting to leave off with Leonard’s final tweet, dated some days ago. He would have known time was short, and the words strike me as someone who was at peace with that. They’re very wise. “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.”

Rest in peace, Leonard. Thank you. You’ve touched more lives than you know. 


  1. He will be sadly missed. Great post, William, thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Super tribute William.. I hope he finds time up there to have a culpa with my Mum, she was a big time fan of Star Trek!

  3. William, thank you for this wonderful tribute to Leonard Nimoy.

  4. This is so sad! I had a crush on him when I was 4. lol

  5. What a lovely tribute. His Spock has certainly transcended genre and time itself.

  6. Such a deep soul and yet I never found I could relate to any of his characters. Maybe the pointy ear thing bothered me.

  7. @Linda: you're welcome.

    @Grace: my mother liked the movies.

    @Lynn: you're most welcome.

    @Diane: he will be greatly missed.

    @Cheryl: what a great legacy for an actor to have, such a signature character.

    @Eve: I suppose it's the same for some people with Doctor Who- I can't grasp the reason why people find that franchise appealing, but many do.

  8. He was and always will be, my favorite. Just the best.

  9. This is a fitting tribute! Well done!

  10. I have a soft spot for Star Trek and of course Spock and the crazy Russian Chekov.
    They were my favorites. I thought Leonard Nimoy was terrific.
    I was working and in school full time so I really never saw the whole 3 years.
    A blogger friend, Armchair Squid just finish his weekly posting on Star Trek the original. He watched every one and then blogged about it.
    Pretty interesting.
    I think you might like his blog. He has a monthly book group and film society.
    But like you, Norma and your writer friends blogs, I am the fish out of water

    cheers, parsnip

  11. When Star Trek had its first run on TV, I couldn't get my parents to watch it. They didn't like "that space stuff." Only years later, when it was in syndication, did my mom become a huge fan. I bought Trek collectibles for her--a snow globe featuring the Enterprise, a framed cast photo, an Enterprise phone. The three of us--Mom, Collin and me--went to see the Trek movies. We were all fans.

    Spock had more heart, more humanity than he was willing to admit. That was his portrayer coming through. He will indeed be missed.

  12. Always sad to say goodbye to a legend.

  13. Thanks for this post, William. I was never a Star Trek fan; I'm not sure why, but it never caught my interest. This essay of yours helped me understand who Spock was and what Nimoy was all about. Very much appreciated!

  14. @Whisk: he was quite a guy.

    @Jennifer: thanks!

    @Parsnip: I'll check for that blog.

    @Norma: I got into the later series, and the movies. I've only seen a handful of the original series.

    @Kelly: it is.

    @Lowell: thank you.

  15. I enjoyed his acting, but I guess I was far too old already to be inspired. I had already realized that I wouldn't be colonizing outer space because mankind couldn't go there---yet.

  16. I'll admit that I got a little choked up at seeing that he'd passed. I always enjoyed his roles and Spock was definitely a favorite.

  17. RIP Spock. Excellent post and tribute.

  18. Truly a life well lived and his memory will endure.

  19. I always find it harder when actors I grew up with pass. I feel like I've known them my whole life.

  20. This was a nice tribute, Sir Wills. For some reason I think certain people should stay alive forever.


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