Leonard Nimoy: More than Spock - Los Angeles Post-ExaminerLos Angeles Post-Examiner

Leonard Nimoy: More than Spock

Photo above: “Are you sure it isn’t time for a colorful metaphor?”
Mr. Spock, from the film,
Star Trek: The Voyage Home. (YouTube)

“I have a human half … as well as an alien half, submerged, constantly at war with each  other … I survive it because my intelligence wins out over both, makes them live together.”
~Spock, from “The Enemy Within”

Live long and prosper. Nimoy’s tagline for his tweets was “LLOP” (Wikipedia)

Live long and prosper.
Nimoy’s tagline for his tweets was “LLOP”

One would be hard pressed to find more compelling qualities than passion, kindness, intelligence, depth and humor. To find all these traits in one human being marks quite an extraordinary discovery indeed. At this point, there’s nothing I can write about Leonard Nimoy that hasn’t been published in one of the many tributes but that Nimoy appeared to possess all of those traits.

Leonard Nimoy, undoubtedly best known for his role as Spock in Star Trek, died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at the age of 83 on Thursday, February 27, 2015, leaving behind his son, Adam and daughter, Julie, as well as Susan, his wife of 26 years.

Nimoy grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and moved to California to pursue acting in his late teens. Describing his origins, he said: “My folks came to U.S. as immigrants, aliens, and became citizens. I was born in Boston, a citizen, went to Hollywood and became an alien.”

He began acting when he was only eight, although his announcement to his father that he wanted to be an actor was met with bafflement. In an interview with rap artist Pharrell Williams, in 2013, he said his dad “was a sweet guy,” but “just didn’t understand how a person could make a living being an actor.”

Despite these family reservations about his career choice, Nimoy would end up not only working as an actor, but as a poet, photographer, singer and songwriter.

With his MA in Education from Antioch, and later an honorary doctorate, he entered the acting world armed with real world experience, a formal education, and many diverse interests. Leonard Nimoy studied photography at UCLA, and admitted on several occasions that there were times in his life when he was rarely without a camera in his hand. He published books of his photos, such as The Full Body Project, which garnered attention for its daring and gracious attention to the unconventional nude female model with a full figure.

“Fascinating.” (YouTube)


Discussing his interest in the nude female figure from an artistic standpoint with the outspoken and hilariously crass and ruthlessly direct Craig Ferguson in 2008, Nimoy remarked that “there’s a gigantic industry built around telling women they look wrong.” When Ferguson attempted to lighten or sexualize the issue by asking if Nimoy had always “been attracted to fat women,” he simply gave a knowing smile and a laugh as he replied, “I knew you were going to ask me that.”

In this age of celebrity obsession, it’s rare to see a star that doesn’t seem to match or surpass the public’s obsession with them. In contrast, if Mr. Nimoy had an obsession, it seemed to be his work. On top of acting and photography, he produced music and wrote insightful poems. Everybody’s favorite half-Vulcan was more interested in learning, engaging and giving back than sitting back and taking in all the perks of fame.

Leonard Nimoy also had a strong connection with his Jewish heritage and community. (The famous Vulcan salute actually originated from his observation of the way Jewish priests held their hands while giving blessings.) His first language was Yiddish, and he was a well-known for advocate for Jewish rights. He was even involved in a Pro Bono lawsuit against Holocaust deniers and was outspoken on the issues of religious and philosophical freedom.

That’s not to say he was some sort of saint, immune to his own internal struggles. His first marriage ended in divorce, and he battled alcoholism in drug rehab following his long-running performances on Star Trek. Of that iconic role, Nimoy said that he was initially challenged by Spock’s stoic and overtly rational mentality, and expressed feeling pressure to go against his “training as an actor to use [his] emotions” because he was playing a character “whose emotions were locked up.”

Excerpts of his poetry demonstrate a high level of sensitivity to the strength and fragility of human emotion, showing the reader exactly why playing such an emotionally-controlled character would have been difficult:

         You and I have Learned

         You and I
have learned
The song of love,

         and we sing it well

         The song is ageless
Passed on

“I have been — and always shall be — your friend.”  — Mr. Spock from the film, “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” (YouTube)

“I have been — and always shall be — your friend.”
— Mr. Spock from the film, “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” (YouTube)

         Heart to heart
By those
Who have seen
What we see
And known
What we know
And lovers who have
Sung before
Our love is ours
To have
To share

         The miracle is this
The more we share …
The more
We have

By sharing his many talents, Leonard Nimoy’s katra (soul) lives on, through his work, legacy and words.


About the author

Megan Wallin

Megan Wallin is a young writer with a background in the social sciences and an interest in seeking the extraordinary in the mundane. A Seattle native, she finds complaining about the constant drizzle and overabundance of Starbucks coffee therapeutic. With varied work experiences as a residential counselor, preprimary educator, musician, writing tutor and college newspaper reporter/editor, Megan is thrilled to offer a unique perspective through writing, research and open dialogue. Contact the author.

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