Leonard Nimoy turns 84 years old today, an impressive feat for anyone. As Star Trek‘s original (and for some, only) Spock begins yet another chapter, we’re looking back at how one of the biggest celebrities in science fiction history literally lived long and prospered.
Everybody knows that the actor whom Star Trek fans around the world would simply call “the man” got his big break playing the “green blooded Vulcan” in the original series alongside William Shatner, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, James Doohan, and Walter Koenig. The group was so successful together that they all reprised their roles in every movie featuring their characters before the J.J. Abrams reboot, which still featured the original Spock as an adviser. Several of them have even done cameos as themselves and similar characters in other shows and films such as Futurama and National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1.
“The Cage” Star Trek pilot started filming 11/27/64. Only 248 days till 50th anniversary of start.
— Leonard Nimoy (@TheRealNimoy) March 24, 2014
Before Leonard Nimoy began to “live long and prosper,” he had rather humble beginnings. His first acting role ever was at the age of 20 in a bit part from Queen for a Day in 1951. The Boston, Massachusetts native continued to contribute to relatively unknown roles until he landed a closing scene in Zombies of the Stratosphere. In that movie, Nimoy played a Martian who had made peace with the people of Earth, foreshadowing the role we all know him for. He was also one of the cast of the original Mission: Impossible.
It was the chemistry between the characters that made Star Trek, the original series, such a hit. William Shatner played his character’s ego off the detached logic of Leonard Nimoy’s Spock and the temperamental doctor Leonard “Bones” McCoy, a relationship mirrored somewhat by today’s hit sitcom The Big Bang Theory (to which Nimoy even lent his voice acting talent for “The Transporter Malfunction”).
The TV series almost didn’t happen without Lucille Ball‘s production studio giving Gene Roddenberry a second chance, as George Takei has pointed out with the utmost respect. The original pilot “The Cage” had been a failure, but Lucille Ball’s production studio decided to try again with “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” The short-lived series became such a massive success that it spawned three TV spinoffs and a long-running series of movies.
It’s no secret that the single most enduring character in Star Trek history was the one Leonard Nimoy brought to life from the director’s simple advice, “Be different.”
The man who played Spock has also done his share of singing, including the cult classic “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” decades before Peter Jackson brought the character to life on the big screen. Nimoy has lent his voice acting talents to a few movies and cartoons such as the original Transformers: The Movie (the animated one that existed decades before Michael Bay came along), as well as the live action sequel Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Leonard Nimoy voiced a villain in both films, the latter of which even inherited one of his classic Star Trek lines, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
Something you might not know about Leonard Nimoy is that he owns an online shop where he sells merchandise he signs, and uses the acronym of his famous phrase “live long and prosper” to thank his customers. He also has done quite a lot of professional photography.
Thank you, Leonard Nimoy, for entertaining us for so long. You have given us one of the most enduring characters in science fiction history with Star Trek‘s Spock. Continue to live long and prosper.
[image via Star Trek]