Leonard Nimoy, the talented actor, director and artist who gave life to Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, died Friday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 83.
Fans around the world expressed sorrow at the death of Nimoy, whose character more than any other personified the appeal of not just Star Trek, but science-fiction storytelling on TV and in movies.
In animation, Nimoy has extensive credits, starting with voicing Mr. Spock in the 1970s Star Trek animated series. He also voiced Galvetron in 1986’s The Transformers: The Movie, and had roles in the animated features Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Zambezia and voiced himself on The Simpsons,
But it was Spock and Star Trek he was best known for. Nimoy originated the character for Gene Roddenberry’s original 1964 pilot for Star Trek, which NBC liked but asked for changes. A second pilot led to a series order and three-year run for Star Trek. Nimoy returned to the role for the animated TV series and for 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Nimoy appeared to bid adieu to the character, who sacrifices himself to save the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. But he returned two years later to direct Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, appearing again on screen as the character in that film.
In a 2002 interview for Variety, Nimoy said he was most proud of directing Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home because he felt it was a unique film in that it had action, humor and was entertaining without a villain.
Nimoy played Spock in two more original-crew features and on a two-part episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. His last appearances in the role were in the two J.J. Abrams reboot features as Spock Prime.
Nimoy appeared in dozens of TV shows and TV movies, and found his deep-timbred voice put him in demand as host of such series as In Search Of … . He also wrote several books and became an acclaimed photographer.
Nimoy’s death, resulting from complications related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Nimoy made public last year that he had the disease, linking it to years of smoking — a habit he quit in the 1980s.
Nimoy’s death was mourned by friends, colleagues and admirers alike.
“I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humor, his talent, and his capacity to love,” wrote Nimoy’s Star Trek co-star William Shatner on Twitter.
George Takei, who played Sulu on Star Trek, told MSNBC: “The word extraordinary is often overused, but I think it’s really appropriate for Leonard. He was an extraordinarily talented man, but he was also a very decent human being. His talent embraced directing as well as acting and photography. He was a very sensitive man. And we feel his passing very much. He had been ill for a long, long time, and we miss him very much.”
President Obama issued a statement that read in part “I loved Spock.” The statement continued with an account of Obama meeting Nimoy in 2007: “It was only logical to greet him with the Vulcan salute, the universal sign for ‘Live long and prosper.’ And after 83 years on this planet – and on his visits to many others – it’s clear Leonard Nimoy did just that. Michelle and I join his family, friends, and countless fans who miss him so dearly today.”