The New York Times and numerous other media outlets are reporting that Leonard Nimoy died earlier this morning at the age of 83. Our thoughts today are with his family and friends.
NYTimes.com: Leonard Nimoy, Spock of ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 83
StarTrek.com also has a very nice tribute to Mr. Nimoy, chronicling his extensive career on the stage, television, and the silver screen as well as his writing, poetry, and other pursuits:
StarTrek.com: Remembering Leonard Nimoy, 1931-2015
Last year, after he had become a regular, active presence on Twitter, he announced that he was suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and he attributed this to his years of smoking. Mr. Nimoy gave up the habit decades ago and even allowed his image to be used by the American Cancer Society to promote smoking cessation programs. I still have one of the posters from back in the late 80s in which Spock advocated, “Don’t Smoke. Live Long and Prosper. Leave the Pack Behind.”
Upon making his announcement last year, he continued urging people to give up smoking, using himself as the picture for what happens when you wait too long. He became a “Grandpa” to anyone who would listen to him on the subject:
There really can be no understating Mr. Nimoy’s impact on Star Trek. His is the one character who is the throughline for everything that has come since the first pilot was developed in 1964, including linking the original continuity to that of the newer films. If there is a “Six Degrees of Spock” exercise to be conducted, I’m sure the results would be, to borrow one of his expressions, “Fascinating.”
There really can be no understating Mr. Nimoy’s impact on my own life. My earliest memories involve watching reruns of the original Star Trek series, and Spock–along with a healthy dose of Captain Kirk, of course–was the key component; the connective tissue holding everything together. Through the cartoons on Saturday mornings (Yes, I watched them first-run) to books and comics and toys t0 Star Trek‘s cinematic rebirth and eventual evolution into what we now call “the Star Trek franchise,” Spock is right there at the heart of it. Leonard Nimoy is right there at the heart of it. The show and its characters, including Spock, continued to pull me back and allow me to find something new to appreciate with each subsequent viewing.
Now here I sit, decades later and a writer of stories featuring the very characters I grew up watching, and it all tracks back to that TV show I’d run home to see every day after school on that little black and white television in my room. The influence of the show, including the character of Spock as portrayed by Mr. Nimoy, is undeniable.
As Doctor McCoy said at the end of Star Trek II: “He’s really not dead, as long as we remember him.” I think it’s safe to say that Spock, and the man who breathed so much life into him for more than fifty years, will not soon be forgotten.
Rest in peace, Mr. Nimoy, and thank you for so very many wonderful moments and memories.
A slightly edited version of this piece was published on StarTrek.com on February 27th, 2015.