“The miracle is this: the more we share the more we have”–Leonard Nimoy
“Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end” — Nimoy as SpockLeonard Simon Nimoy was born on this day in Boston, Massachusetts, USA in 1931. He is 82 years old.
He is the youngest son of Max and Dora Nimoy. His parents and grandparents were Yiddish speaking Orthodox Jews who fled from the Ukrainian region of Stalinist Russia and settled in the West End neighborhood of Boston. Max owned a barbershop and was a neighborhood fixture. Leonard and his older brother Melvin sold newspapers in Boston Commons. His parents wanted him to go to college or at least take up the accordion so he’d have a reliable means to make a living, but Leonard was set on being an actor. It was his Grandfather who stood up for him and encouraged him to pursue his dream.
Nimoy started to act in neighborhood theater when he was eight. He continued to act while at Boston’s English High School.
…After his graduation in 1949, he attended Boston College. While playing the role of Ralphie in a collegiate production of Clifford Odets‘ Awake and Sing, Nimoy noticed that another Odets play was making a professional, pre-Broadway debut in Boston. After seeking career advice from one of the play’s established cast members, Nimoy submitted an application to California’s Pasadena Playhouse. He made his way out to the West Coast using money he earned by selling vacuum cleaners. [Biography.com]
He landed a few guest spots on tv before getting his first starring role as a boxer in Kid Monk Baroni.
He served in the United States Army and reached the rank of Sergeant before being honorably discharged in November of 1955. He went back to acting, taking small parts in film and television and larger roles on stage.
After carving out a niche with day-player roles on the likes of Dragnet, The Rough Riders, Sea Hunt, Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, Dr. Kildaire and Perry Mason, Nimoy’s featured role on a 1965 episode of The Lieutenant earned the attention of producer and writer Gene Roddenberry. [Biography.com]
Roddenberry was developing a science fiction series, Star Trek, and he needed a tall, thin, logical, intelligent science officer. Nimoy got the role of Mr. Spock.
Half-Vulcan and half-human, Spock is largely emotionless and operates on a level of pure logic, serving as a counterpart to Shatner’s more combustible Captain James T. Kirk. It was Nimoy himself who came up with the concept of the Vulcan Nerve Pinch, since he believed it would be out of character for Spock to punch or chop an enemy combatant. [Daily Press.com]
He also introduced the Vulcan hand salute in the episode “Amok Time.” It is a derivation of a Jewish blessing. The show ran from 1966 to 1969. Nimoy earned three Emmy nominations for the iconic role of Mr. Spock.
Nimoy was almost immediately picked up by Mission: Impossible where he played master of disguise The Great Paris.
After Star Trek and Mission Impossible he went back to the stage, notably as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, as Vincent Van Gogh in his one man show Vincent, and in Sherlock Homes and Equus.
…He was one of the world’s greatest magicians (billed as ‘The Great Paris’)…after Rollin Hand quit his position with the Impossible Missions Force …Paris was recruited … as the team’s master of disguise. … Paris has played everything from a Japanese kabuki actor to a mobster … [IMDb]
Back on TV he was the narrator for paranormal series In Search Of... and he picked up another Emmy nomination for his role as Golda Meir’s husband in 1982’s A Woman Called Golda.
His post Star Trek time also included directing, photography and writing (poetry and autobiography.)Back on the big screen he starred alongside Donal Sutherland in the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers in 1978 before putting the pointy ears on once again.
Buoyed by the success of George Lucas’ 1977 Star Wars, Roddenberry and crew brought the Star Trek franchise back to life with a big budget for the big screen.
The film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, was released in 1979. It was a box-office smash, and was nominated for three Oscars. Nimoy returned for 1982’s sequel, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, and even directed the third and fourth installments in the series — 1984’s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. [IMDb]
The movie series limped on with two more releases (Final Frontier and Undiscovered Country) and Nimoy played Spock in guest spots on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and voiced the character for video games and on-line. He was Spock “Prime” for the J.J. Abrams reboot of the series in 2009 and got to meet his Spock doppelgänger (actor Zachary Quinto) in the final scenes of the movie.
In between he’s done lots of made-for-television movies, while “honing his directing chops, voicing animated projects, and appearing in the occasional acting role.” [Ibid]