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Leonard Nimoy: he lived long and prospered

Leonard Nimoy, the actor known and loved by generations of Star Trek fans as the pointy-eared, purely logical science officer Mr. Spock, has died.

Nimoy died on Friday of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at his Los Angeles home. He was 83.

Although Nimoy followed his 1966-69 Star Trek run with a notable career as both an actor and director, in the public’s mind he would always be Spock.

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His half-human, half-Vulcan character was the calm counterpoint to William Shatner’s often-emotional Captain Kirk on one of TV and film’s most revered cult series.

“He affected the lives of many,” Adam Nimoy, his son, said.

“He was also a great guy and my best friend.”

Asked if his father chafed at his fans’ close identification of him with his character, Adam Nimoy said, “Not in the least. He loved Spock.”

However, Leonard Nimoy displayed ambivalence to the role in the titles of his two autobiographies, I Am Not Spock and I Am Spock.

Nimoy also directed several films, including the hit comedy Three Men and a Baby and appeared in such plays as A Streetcar Named Desire.

He also published books of poems, children’s stories and his own photographs.

But he could never really escape the role that took him overnight from bit-part actor status to TV star, and in a 1995 interview he sought to analyse the popularity of Spock, the green-blooded space traveller who aspired to live a life based on pure logic.

People identified with Spock because they “recognise in themselves this wish that they could be logical and avoid the pain of anger and confrontation,” Nimoy concluded.

“How many times have we come away from an argument wishing we had said and done something different?” he asked.

In the years immediately after Star Trek left television, Nimoy tried to shun the role, but he eventually came to embrace it, lampooning himself on such TV shows as Futurama and The Simpsons and in commercials.

Here’s a selection of classic Leonard Nimoy, and Spock’s, utterances:

– “Without followers, evil cannot spread.” (Spock)

– “My folks came to the US as immigrants, aliens, and became citizens. I was born in Boston, a citizen, went to Hollywood and became an alien.” (Nimoy)

– “Computers make excellent and efficient servants, but I have no wish to serve under them.” (Spock)

– “Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.” (Nimoy)

– “I have never understood the female capacity to avoid a direct answer to any question.” (Spock)

– “Spock is definitely one of my best friends. When I put on those ears, it’s not like just another day. When I become Spock, that day becomes something special.” (Nimoy)

– “Change is the essential process of all existence.” (Spock)

– “I have been, and always shall be, your friend.” (Spock, to Captain Kirk)

– “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.” (Nimoy, in his last Twitter post)

– “Live long and prosper.” (Spock)

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