Charlie Greenwald ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
There are many celebrities who have had trouble escaping their on-screen alter ego. One only needs to look at Jaleel White (Steve Urkel) or Jason Alexander (George Costanza) to know that one character can completely define your career. Such is the case with Leonard Nimoy, beloved for his role as the stalwart logician Spock in the Star Trek universe.
Nimoy passed away on Friday, at the age of 83.
Born in Boston to Ukrainian immigrants, Nimoy grew up acting since the age of eight. He took a few classes at Boston College and served in the U.S. Army for two years before he began his acting career. Nimoy’s first roles consisted mainly of foreign characters in B-movies and TV pilots. His Eurasian, gaunt-looking face, rich speaking voice, and cocksure physical presence brought him small success before “Star Trek” came along, which launched him into superstardom.
Along with William Shatner, Nimoy became a household name during the three seasons of Star Trek as master of reason Spock. The series became a runaway hit, and inspired several films and spin-off series. Hysterical fans swallowed the Star Trek culture, and the legion of followers-now known as Trekkies-considered Nimoy to be an exceptional hero in the world of television for his portrayal.
Nimoy dabbled in theatre, video games, and 21st Century television after his rise to fame in the 60s and 70s. He starred on Broadway in several shows, worked on the “Mission: Impossible” TV series, did voice over work in Civilization IV, and made several high-profile guest appearances on recent cable shows, including “Fringe.”
Despite the success of Star Trek, Nimoy grappled with stardom, especially his fame as the face of Spock. He wrote two autobiographies that dealt primarily with his struggle to break away from the typecasting that followed him around Hollywood. Eventually, Nimoy came to embrace his character and was often seen giving the Vulcan salute on red carpet events later in his life.
Nimoy was also known for being a good guy off-screen. Al Jean, executive producer on The Simpsons, said he was one of his favorite guests to work with; William Shatner has spoken on multiple occasions about Nimoy’s good character. Shatner has been quoted in interviews as saying that Nimoy, who overcame alcoholism, relentlessly helped Shatner’s wife, Nerine, many times with her addiction. Nimoy was also extremely active in the Jewish community, often speaking up for equal rights and voicing his opinions on worldwide social issues.
He will be missed dearly.