By Jason Snell
February 27, 2015 9:24 AM PT
Leonard Nimoy dies at 83
Note: This story has not been updated for several years.
Leonard Nimoy died today. There is no single creative work that more influenced me as a child than “Star Trek.” Not only can I not remember life before “Star Trek,” I can’t remember life before knowing every episode of “Star Trek” by heart.
I really do believe that Spock, and Leonard Nimoy, was the biggest single reason for the show’s success—in the ’60s and through all the reruns that I saw in the ’70s. As Marc Cushman and Susan Osborn’s remarkable “Star Trek” history “These Are The Voyages” makes clear, Spock was a huge hit with audiences—despite the fact that NBC was initially cold on the character.
The famous Spock neck pinch—actually referred to in “Star Trek” scripts as the FSNP—was invented by Nimoy on the spot as a way to quickly resolve a scene when filming was running over time. The Vulcan “live long and prosper” hand sign was another Nimoy invention, adapted from hand gestures from his Orthodox Jewish upbringing.
The episode “This Side of Paradise,” written by Dorothy Fontana and featuring a blissed-out Spock under the influence of some wacky space spores, sealed the deal for many fans.
Spock’s death in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” reduced me to uncontrollable crying in a movie theater. Nimoy directed two Trek movies, guested on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” appeared in the two new J.J. Abrams features, and even guested (in retirement!) on “Fringe.”
Leonard Nimoy and my father were born the same year, 1931. Both were smokers and, as a result, struggled with COPD late in life. It contributed to their deaths. I took some solace knowing that Nimoy (and William Shatner, another 1931 birth) were still walking around out there, even though my dad was not. But… so it goes.
I leave you with some Vulcan philosophy.
Peace, and long life.
I have been, and always shall be, your friend.
Infinite diversity in infinite combinations.
The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.
Live long and prosper.
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