13 Reasons Leonard Nimoy Was Even More Amazing Than You Knew
By John Boone
Photo: Getty Images
“Loss of life is to be mourned, but only if the life was wasted.”
Spock said that once. The man behind those pointy rubber ears, Leonard Nimoy, passed on Friday at the age of 83, after losing a battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. His life will be celebrated, because it was not wasted. Here are just 13 of many reasons why:
1. Obviously Spock: This one everyone knows. But we would be remiss not to mention it again. He breathed life into one of the most iconic characters in TV and movie history (and earned three Emmy nominations for it). Fun fact you might not know: Nimoy is actually the one who created the Vulcan salute, based on a Jewish blessing he saw when he was a boy.
2. And How He Embraced Spock: Earlier on in his career, Nimoy seemed to have a love-hate relationship with Spock and openly discussed his “identity crisis” over how much the role defined him. His first autobiography was titled I Am Not Spock, though it wasn’t nearly as defensive as the title implies -- it was dialogues between him and Spock -- but even as he strived to be seen as more than just Spock, he embraced the character and the love people had for Star Trek. He came out of retirement to play Spock again in Star Trek Into Darkness and 20 years after his first, released a second book called I Am Spock.
3. His Real-Life Contributions to Space Exploration: As Spock, Nimoy inspired many to embrace their love of the final frontier. The Space Foundation awarded him their 2010 Douglas S. Morrow Public Outreach Award for creating a positive role model. Upon news of his death, NASA tweeted, “RIP Leonard Nimoy. So many of us at NASA were inspired by Star Trek. Boldly go...”
4. All the Wonderful Things He Said as Spock: Inspirational quotes from the most logical alien in the universe that will endure the test of time, like “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.” And “History is replete with turning points. You must have faith that the universe will unfold as it should.”
5. But Also the Great Things He Said in Real Life, Like on Twitter:
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP
6. This Wonderful Bit of Advice He Once Gave a Teenage Girl: In 1968, a young, mixed-race girl wrote into teen magazine Fave to ask for advice about feeling like an outcast. Nimoy was so touched he penned a letter back, writing, “Spock learned he could save himself from letting prejudice get him down. He could do this by really understanding himself and knowing his own value as a person...Not everyone will like me. But there will be those who will accept me just for what I am.”
7. He Fought for Equal Pay for His Female Costars on Star Trek: Costar Walter Koenig, who played Chekov, revealed in an interview, “When it came to the attention of the cast that there was a disparity in pay in that George [Takei] and I were getting the same pay but Nichelle [Nichols] was not getting as much, I took it to Leonard and he took it to the front office and they corrected that.” He continued, “You could count on Leonard for that kind of thing.”
8. And Was Good Friends With All of His Star Trek Costars Off-screen: On the whole, the crew of the Starship Enterprise has only ever had wonderful things to say about their friend Leonard. In 1997, he even served as best man at William Shatner’s third marriage. "I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humor, his talent, and his capacity to love,” Shatner says.
9. He Once Sang a Song About Bilbo Baggins: Nerdy universes, converge! This video is from a 1967 variety show and is an ode to the Lord of the Rings called “The Balled of Bilbo Baggins.” Spock singing about Hobbits? Yeah, we’ll watch that.
10. He’s a Veteran: From 1953 to 1955, he was a sergeant in the U.S. Army.
11. He Overcame His Vices to Help Others With Theirs: Nimoy revealed in 2001 that he was an alcoholic and had ended up in rehab after Star Trek. Afterwards, he remained sober and, years later, in Shatner’s 2008 memoirs Up Till Now: The Autobiography, he said that Nimoy tried to help his wife, Nerine Kidd, with her alcoholism. He was also a former smoker who spent his later life advocating for people to quit:
12. He Directed 3 Men and a Baby: Random, but awesome. When he wasn’t acting, Nimoy was a director, photographer, and poet. He directed Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home too, the latter of which he also wrote the story for along with Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
13. And He Starred in a Bruno Mars Music Video!
If this isn’t someone who lived long and prospered, we don’t know who is.