Caption: Leonard Nimoy at Star Trek Into Darkness Premiere
Caption: Leonard Nimoy
Born and raised in Boston, Leonard Nimoy started acting as a boy, but moved to Los Angeles at age 18 to give it a go on a professional level. He worked his way up from small roles in the likes of Queen for a Day, Zombies of the Stratosphere and Them! to major guest star turns in such shows as Broken Arrow, Dragnet, Sea Hunt, Twilight Zone, Wagon Train and The Outer Limits. At one point, he acted in an episode of The Lieutenant, a show written and created by a rising behind-the-scenes talent named Gene Roddenberry, and he acted in an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. with a young Canadian by the name of William Shatner.
It wouldn't be long before their lives intersected again. Roddenberry created Star Trek: The Original Series, tapping Nimoy to play Spock and Jeffrey Hunter to play Captain Pike. NBC rejected the pilot, but asked Roddenberry to try again. The second pilot once again featured Nimoy as Spock, but after Hunter opted out of his contract, Roddenberry hired Shatner to play Captain Kirk. DeForest Kelley, who'd turned down the role of Spock, came on board to portray Dr. McCoy, and that unforgettable trio -- complemented by Nichelle Nichols, James Doohan, George Takei and, starting with season two, Walter Koenig -- formed the cast that would see Star Trek through three seasons of the original show, 20-plus episodes of an animated series and six feature films, not to mention numerous television commercials and countless convention appearances.
Nimoy at times waged an internal battle when it came to Spock. He titled his first autobiography I Am Not Spock. Twenty years later, though, he wrote I Am Spock. He turned down the proposed Star Trek: Phase II series, but returned for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Spock died in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, only to be resurrected for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, which Nimoy directed. He also directed Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and produced and developed the story for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and, as a tie-in, he guest starred as Ambassador Spock on two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. And in 2009, after 18 long years, Nimoy helped J.J. Abrams reboot the Star Trek franchise by playing Spock Prime in Star Trek (2009), passing the torch to Zachary Quinto, who became a close friend. He also voiced Spock for Star Trek Online andmade a cameo in Star Trek Into Darkness.
Beyond Star Trek, Nimoy's many film, TV and stage credits included Mission: Impossible, A Woman Called Golda, In Search Of..., Equus, Never Forget, Vincent, Standby: Lights! Camera! Action!, The Simpsons, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Fringe. With his friend and TNG's Q, John de Lancie, he created Alien Voices, which staged and recorded radio play-style productions of classic and original sci-fi/fantasy stories.
Nimoy passed away on Friday, February 27, 2015 succumbing to the end stages of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), an illness that resulted from years of smoking and which afflicted him despite having quit smoking three decades earlier.