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Leonard Nimoy –

Leonard Nimoy in an episode from The Classic Star Trek Series.

About Leonard Nimoy (1931 – 2015)

Leonard Simon Nimoy was an American actor, director, poet, singer and photographer. He was known for his role as Spock in the original Star Trek series (1966–69), which spawned innumerable film, television and video game sequels over the next fifty years.

Nimoy was born to Jewish immigrant parents in Boston, Massachusetts. He began his career in his early 20s, teaching acting classes in Hollywood and making small film and TV appearances through the '50s, in addition to playing the title role in Kid Monk Baroni.

In 1965, he made his first appearance in the Star Trek pilot The Cage, which was initially rejected by Paramount. When the studio agreed to an unprecedented second pilot, Nimoy went on to play Mr. Spock for the remainder of the original run of the show. He followed this with eight feature films and guest appearances in many spin-off series. Spock had enormous cultural impact and won Nimoy three Emmy nominations; he was named one of the 50 greatest TV characters by TV Guide.

After the original Star Trek, Nimoy starred in Mission: Impossible for two seasons, hosted the paranormal documentary series In Search of..., narrated Civilization IV, and starred in several critically-admired stage productions. He also had an ongoing role in the science fiction series Fringe.

So great was Nimoy's fame as Mr. Spock that both of his autobiographies, I Am Not Spock (1975) and I Am Spock (1995), revolved around the character.

He was born on March 26, 1931 in the West End of Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Yiddish-speaking Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Iziaslav, Soviet Union (now Ukraine). His father, Max, owned a barbershop in Boston.

Nimoy began acting when he was 8. His parents wanted him to attend college and pursue a conventional career, or even learn to play the accordion — which, his father assured him, Nimoy could always fall back on to make a living. But his grandfather encouraged him to pursue his dream of becoming an actor.

His first major role came when he was 17, when he played Ralphie in an amateur production of Clifford Odets' Awake and Sing! Nimoy attended drama classes at Boston College in 1953 but didn't complete his studies. Later he would study photography at UCLA, earn an MA in Education from Antioch College, be awarded an honorary doctorate from Antioch University in Ohio, and earn distinction in his activism for Holocaust remembrance, the arts, and the environment.

In 1953, Nimoy enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve and served for 18 months. While enlisted, Nimoy was assigned to the Army Special Services that produced theatrical entertainment for Army personnel.

His film and television acting career began in 1951. After winning the title role in the 1952 film Kid Monk Baroni, a story about a street kid turned professional boxer, he moved on to playing more than 50 small parts in B movies, TV shows like Perry Mason and Dragnet, and serials like Zombies of the Stratosphere (1952). He often did other work as well to support his family, such as delivering newspapers.

He played an Army sergeant in the acclaimed 1954 sci-fi thriller Them! and a professor in the 1958 movie The Brain Eaters. He was the producer of a 1966 version of Deathwatch, which was adapted and directed by Vic Morrow and starred Nimoy.

On television, Nimoy appeared as "Sonarman" in two episodes of the military drama The Silent Service. He had guest appearances in the Sea Hunt series and a minor role in the Twilight Zone episode "A Quality of Mercy". He also appeared in the syndicated Highway Patrol.

In 1959, Nimoy was cast as Luke Reid in the "Night of Decision" episode of the western series Colt .45.

Nimoy had four guest shots in ethnic roles on Wagon Train. He portrayed Bernabe Zamora in "The Estaban Zamora Story" in 1959, "Cherokee Ned" in "The Maggie Hamilton Story" in 1960, Joaquin Delgado in "The Tiburcio Mendez Story" in 1961 and Emeterio Vasquez in "The Baylor Crowfoot Story" in 1962.

Nimoy's prolific television output in the early '60s included appearances in such shows as Bonanza (1960), The Rebel (1960), Two Faces West (1961), Rawhide (1961), The Untouchables (1962), The Eleventh Hour (1962), Perry Mason (1963; in which he played a murderer in "The Case of the Shoplifter's Shoe"), Combat! (1963, 1965), Daniel Boone, The Outer Limits (1964), The Virginian (1963–1965; where he first worked with Star Trek co-star DeForest Kelley in "Man of Violence"), Get Smart (1966) and Mission: Impossible (1969–1971). He would return again in to the Outer Limits series in 1995. He worked in Gunsmoke in 1962 as Arnie and in 1966 as John Walking Fox.

Nimoy and his future Star Trek co-star William Shatner first appeared together on an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., "The Project Strigas Affair" (1964). They played characters from opposite sides of the Iron Curtain, with the saturnine Nimoy as the villain, and Shatner a reluctant U.N.C.L.E. recruit.

On the stage, Nimoy played the lead role in a short run of Gore Vidal's Visit to a Small Planet in 1968.

Nimoy's rose to great fame in the original Star Trek series as the half-Vulcan, half-human Spock. In the process he forged a durable, decades-long friendship with Shatner, who portrayed his commanding officer, Captain Kirk. Star Trek in its original incarnation ran for only three seasons, from 1966 to 1969. In that time, Nimoy earned three Emmy Award nominations for his performances as Spock.

He would go on to reprise the Spock character in Star Trek: The Animated Series and two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. When a new Star Trek series was slated to return to network television in the late '70s, Nimoy was originally set to appear in just two of the new show's eleven episodes, but when the series was transformed to a feature film, he agreed to assume his full role. The first six Star Trek movies featured the original TOS cast, including Nimoy, who also directed two of the movies. He played the elder Spock in the 2009 Star Trek movie and briefly reprised the role in the 2013 sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness.

After 1969's Star Trek, Nimoy promptly joined the cast of the popular spy series Mission: Impossible, as a replacement for the departing Martin Landau. Nimoy played Paris, an IMF agent who was an ex-magician and a make-up expert known as "The Great Paris". He played the role for two years, from 1969–71.

In 1971 he co-starred with Yul Brynner and Richard Crenna in the movie western Catlow. He also had featured roles in two episodes of Rod Serling's Night Gallery (1972 and 1973) and Columbo (1973) where he played a murderous doctor who had the distinction of being one of the few criminals with whom Columbo grew angry. Nimoy appeared in various made-for-TV films such as Assault on the Wayne (1970), Baffled! (1972), The Alpha Caper (1973), The Missing Are Deadly (1974), Seizure: The Story Of Kathy Morris (1980) and Marco Polo (1982). Also in 1982, Nimoy earned an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor for the TV film A Woman Called Golda (1982), playing Morris Meyerson, Golda Meir's husband alongside Ingrid Bergman as Golda in her final role.

In 1975, Leonard Nimoy filmed an opening segment to Ripley's World of the Unexplained museum located at Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. In the late 1970s, he hosted and narrated the television series In Search of..., which delved into paranormal or unexplained events and topics. He was also a memorable supporting character in Philip Kaufman's brilliant remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

After directing a few TV show episodes, Nimoy started film directing in earnest in 1984 with the third installment of the Star Trek film franchise. Nimoy went on to direct the second most successful film in the series after the 2009 Star Trek film, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), and Three Men and a Baby, which was the highest-grossing film of 1987. These triumphs made him a star director.

Nimoy was a lifelong activist in the Jewish community. He spoke and read Yiddish, his native language. In 1997, he narrated the documentary A Life Apart: Hasidism in America, which examined various sects and aspects of Hasidic Orthodox Jewish life. In 2002, Nimoy published The Shekhina Project, a photographic study which explored feminine elements of God's presence as inspired by Kabbalah.

Nimoy died on February 27, 2015 at the age of 83 in his Bel Air home from complications of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Only days before his death, he shared excerpts of his poetry on Twitter. His final tweet read: "A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory."

Leonard Nimoy's movie credits include...

Year Movie Role
1951 Queen for a Day Chief
1951 Rhubarb Young Ball Player
1952 Kid Monk Baroni Paul 'Monk' Baroni
1952 Zombies of the Stratosphere Narab
1952 Francis Goes to West Point Football player
1953 Old Overland Trail Chief Black Hawk
1954 Them! Army Staff Sergeant
1958 The Brain Eaters Professor Cole
1963 The Balcony Roger
1966 Deathwatch Jules Lefranc
1971 Assault on the Wayne Commander Phil Kettenring
1971 Catlow Miller
1973 Baffled! Tom Kovack
1974 Rex Harrison Presents Stories of Love Mick
1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers Dr. David Kibner
1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture Mr. Spock
1981 Vincent Theo van Gogh
1982 A Woman Called Golda Morris Meyerson
1982 Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Captain Spock
1984 Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Captain Spock
1984 The Sun Also Rises Count Mippipopolous
1986 The Transformers: The Movie Galvatron
1986 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home Captain Spock
1989 Star Trek V: The Final Frontier Captain Spock
1991 Never Forget Mel Mermelstein
1991 Haunted Lives: True Ghost Stories Narrator
1991 Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country Captain Spock
1994 The Pagemaster Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Edward Hyde
1995 Titanica Narrator
1997 A Life Apart: Hasidism in America Narrator
1997 David Samuel
1998 The Harryhausen Chronicles Narrator
1998 Brave New World Mustapha Mond
2000 Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists Akron / Baraka / King Chandra
2001 Atlantis: The Lost Empire King Kashekim Nedakh
2009 Star Trek Spock Prime
2009 Land of the Lost The Zarn
2011 Transformers: Dark of the Moon Sentinel Prime
2012 Zambezia Sekhuru
2013 Star Trek Into Darkness Spock Prime

Leonard Nimoy's television credits include...

Year Show/Series Role
1954 Dragnet Julius Carver
1956 The West Point Story Tom Kennedy
1957–1958 Highway Patrol Harry Wells / Ray
1957–1958 Broken Arrow Apache / Nahilzay / Winnoa
1958 Mackenzie's Raiders Kansas
1958–1960 Sea Hunt Indio
1959 Dragnet Karlo Rozwadowski
1959–1962 Wagon Train Bernabe Zamora, et al.
1960 Bonanza Freddy
1960 M Squad Bob Nash
1960 The Rebel Jim Colburn
1961 Gunsmoke John Walking Fox / Holt / Arnie / Elias Grice
1960–1961 The Tall Man Deputy Sheriff Johnny Swift
1961 The Twilight Zone Hansen
1961 87th Precinct Barrow
1961 Rawhide Anko
1963 Perry Mason Pete Chennery
1963 Combat! Neumann
1963 The Virginian Lt. Beldon M.D.
1964 The Outer Limits Konig / Judson Ellis
1964 The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Vladeck
1966 Get Smart Stryker
1966 Daniel Boone Oontah
1966–1969 Star Trek Spock
1969–1971 Mission: Impossible The Great Paris
1973 Columbo Dr. Barry Mayfield
1973–1974 Star Trek: The Animated Series Spock (voice)
1976–1982 In Search of... Narrator / host
1982 Marco Polo Ahmad Fanakati
1983 T. J. Hooker Paul McGuire
1986 Faerie Tale Theatre The Evil Moroccan Magician
1991 Star Trek: The Next Generation Ambassador Spock
1993 The Simpsons Himself (voice)
1993 The Halloween Tree Mr. Moundshroud (voice)
1994–1998 Ancient Mysteries Narrator
1995 Bonanza: Under Attack Frank James
1995 The Outer Limits Thomas Cutler
1997 The Simpsons Himself (voice)
1999 Futurama Himself (voice)
2001 Becker Professor Emmett Fowler
2002 Futurama Himself (voice)
2009–2012 Fringe Dr. William Bell
2012 The Big Bang Theory Action Figure Spock (voice)

Memorable Quotes

“I think it's my adventure, my trip, my journey, and I guess my attitude is, let the chips fall where they may.”

“My folks came to U.S. as immigrants, aliens, and became citizens. I was born in Boston, a citizen, went to Hollywood and became an alien.”

“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.”

“My wife and I are affiliated with a temple here in Los Angeles. We feel very close to the congregation and to the rabbi, who happens to be my wife's cousin and who I admire greatly. I talk to him regularly but I consider myself more spiritual than religious.”

“Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.”

“I think about myself as like an ocean liner that's been going full speed for a long distance, and the captain pulls the throttle back all the way to 'stop,' but the ship doesn't stop immediately, does it? It has its own momentum and it keeps on going, and I'm very flattered that people are still finding me useful.”

Did You Know

Leonard Nimoy owned a pet store in Canoga Park, California, during the 1960s

Nimoy's father had a barber shop in Boston, where one of the more popular haircuts he gave was the "Spock cut".

Nimoy himself invented the "Vulcan nerve pinch" concept on the original Star Trek series, when he and the series' writers had to figure out how an unarmed Spock could overpower an opponent nonviolently.

Leonard Nimoy served in the U.S. Army, under service number ER-11-229-770, from December 3, 1953 to November 23, 1955. He received an honorable discharge with the rank of Sergeant.

Nimoy was an accomplished photographer who specialized in black and white images, and gave public exhibitions of his works.

The "Live Long, and Prosper" sign that Spock makes with his hand is derived from a gesture traditionally given by the Cohanim, the Jewish Priests, when they bless their congregations.

Nimoy won the role of Spock in part after discussions among series writers and producers about the character of Spock led them to put out the word that they were looking for "a tall, thin guy" in the role of an alien crew member. The Star Trek casting director, Joseph D'Agosta, remembered Nimoy from his work in an earlier World War II series, The Lieutenant (1963) and gave Nimoy a call.


Nimoy in Star Trek II:
The Wrath Of Khan.


Leonard Nimoy in
Charlie X (Star Trek TOS).


Leonard Nimoy in
Errand Of Mercy
(Star Trek TOS).


Leonard Nimoy in
(Star Trek TOS).


Leonard Nimoy in
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.


Nimoy with George Takei, in The
Doomsday Machine
(Star Trek TOS).

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Leonard Nimoy in Mirror-mirror (Star Trek TOS).

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Leonard Nimoy guest-starring
in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1964 TV).


Leonard Nimoy and Donald Sutherland
in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978).


Nimoy as Dr. William Bell in the final episode of Fringe (2012).


Leonard Nimoy in I Robot (The Outer Limits).


Leonard Nimoy in The Deadly Years (Star Trek TOS).


Leonard Nimoy in The Menagerie (Star Trek TOS).


Nimoy in The Corbomite
(Star Trek TOS).


Leonard Nimoy in
Space Seed (Star Trek TOS).

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Nimoy in various Star Trek TOS episodes (circa 1966 TV).


Leonard Nimoy in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.