Thursday, October 18, 2012

N is for Nimoy, Not Spock


Nimoy 10-18-12


  Since I’m someone who has never been shy about mentioning a love of Star Trek (most recently, here), I suppose it can’t much of a surprise that eventually I’d get around to some of the actors.  And while my heart will always belong to Captain Kirk—and, by extension, William Shatner—I think there’s little doubt that the most iconic character in all of Trekdom was portrayed by someone else.  (Sorry, Shat.)

  The pointy-eared, half-Vulcan, half-Human that represents Star Trek far and wide was brought to life by none other than Mr. Leonard Nimoy.  He is a talented and gentle man, so I thought we’d spend just a few minutes chatting about him today.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Image credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia Commons

Born in Boston in 1931 (can you believe the man is 81?), Nimoy was acting long before Trek came along in 1966, and he continued to act for decades following.  But there can be no argument that Spock is the one character he is most identified with, the one that will never leave his side.  Having seen many interviews through the years, and been in attendance at many Q&A sessions at conventions, the one thing that always strikes me is simply how jovial the man is.  Not that I mistake him for his stoic alter-ego, of course, but I do always contemplate how different the performer is from the character, and always ultimately decide that acting must be really hard work.

Making this distinction between himself and his famous other self is what led him to write an autobiography, I Am Not Spock.  It wasn’t as acrimonious as the title implied, and there really was no Trek bashing going on, but I can remember people being offended by the very idea that he would even hint at denigrating Spock.  I have been a Star Trek fan my entire life, but you will never hear me say that some of the fans aren’t a little crazy.

As I mentioned, after Star Trek left the air, Nimoy continued to act, both on television and in film.  On TV, he moved almost immediately into another co-starring role, this time on Mission: Impossible.   After MI, he had guest-starring roles on a variety of television programs, joined with his fellow Trek actors in voicing Star Trek: The Animated Series, and became the host of In Search Of . . . .  Even after the Trek films began, he would continue working on TV, including a guest appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation, where he brought Spock to life once again.

Through all of this, Nimoy also worked on other passions in his life.  There was writing, including a second autobiography (I Am Spock), and several collections of poetry.  I still remember 8th grade me choosing his book, You and I for my poetry presentation.  I think it wasn’t what my teacher had anticipated, but I also think she was impressed that anyone in the class actually had some poetry in their own collections.  And there was photography, though it was later that he really began to pursue that long-time interest, and began showing his work, and even publishing collections of his work.  There was also music, though I’d offer the thought that this is not where the man’s truest talents lie.  But I do believe that everyone should hear him sing at Bilbo Baggins at least once.  And, he also had a career as a director, directing episodes of various television series, as well as several feature films, including the Trek film widely acclaimed as the best of them all, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

At this point, Nimoy has officially retired from acting, though this doesn’t seem to include voice work, as he voiced an episode of Big Bang Theory just earlier this year, and I believe he can still occasionally be heard on Fringe (I don’t watch it, so can’t say for sure), along with other animated series and video games. 

For myself—and many other fans, I’m sure—I’m glad he hasn’t decided to hang it up entirely, and I hope to be lucky enough to see him at another convention or two before he decides on a real and true retirement.  In either case, though, I’m grateful for the entertainment he’s provided to us for so many years, and I wish for him the same good fortune he’s been directing toward others for decades:  live long and prosper. 

ABCW11   Be sure to check out all the N listings over at ABC Wednesday.

31 Days of TV