It’s been all over Facebook and Twitter that we lost Leonard Nimoy on February 27, 2015. He’s known to just about everybody who has ever watched a Star Trek episode as Spock, the Vulcan who showed us that being the smartest person in the room can be cool, maybe even sexy, a couple of generations before such a concept really took off.
Spock’s Best Moments
It was fun to watch the other characters play off Spock. McCoy never missed an opportunity to needle him for his lack of an emotional reaction. Kirk got some light teasing in, too, but could also give Spock a graceful way out of an awkward moment and may have been the only person who could smack him out of a virus-induced emotional moment without getting his hand broken. Making Spock a foil for the other characters was easy because his only outward reaction to their emotional behavior was usually a raise of his eyebrows and sometimes a short comment that could sum up his feelings about being surrounded by irrational humans.
Chekov: “Just a little joke.”
Spock: “Very small.”
Leonard Nimoy himself was a fan favorite for his frequent appearances at conventions. If you were at the 2003 Las Vegas convention and you remember some chick who yelled, “Ignore them!” when he said the convention staffers were telling him to wrap it up, that was me having a little fun. It was also fun to watch videos where he’d laugh at something because his eyebrow would bob up and down. Seriously. Next time you see a video of him, watch his right eyebrow.
The two books of his that I actually read were I Am Not Spock and I Am Spock. I recommend reading both if you want to see how his opinion of having a cool, rational character in the back of his head has evolved over the course of a couple of decades. As the first title shows, he had been somewhat ambivalent about being typecast as a Vulcan. By the second, he was more accepting – though maybe having a few successful turns in the director’s seat with two Star Trek movies and the classic comedy Three Men And A Baby, along with an Emmy nomination for his role in A Woman Called Golda, helped him prove to the world that he could be more than just an alien with pointed ears. He still claimed to have carried around that cool, logical voice in his head.
(One should note here that he is a terrible singer. Almost as bad as William Shatner. They should have done a sing-off.)
When I first heard that he had a respiratory illness from his former smoking habit, I was surprised that the anti-smoking movement didn’t promptly make him their spokesperson. Maybe he did some very firm stamping to make sure they didn’t simply co-opt his image without asking. That was a missed opportunity and it was very unfortunate that he contracted chronic obstructive pulmonary disease so many years after he had quit.
I tried to not be very emotional about it, but I will admit I teared up a little when I heard that he had died. He was 83, a respectable age though maybe he would have had a few more years if the effects of smoking hadn’t caught up with him. Maybe it is illogical to believe in an afterlife, but maybe it didn’t take long for Spock to start trading barbs with McCoy again.