Friday, March 6, 2015

Live Long and Prosper: A Tribute to Leonard Nimoy

On February 27th, 2015, Leonard Nimoy passed away at the age of 83. He will be greatly missed.

Andrea Wiesner

The world lost a great person this past week. I never got to meet or know him personally, but I know he had a lasting impact... on my dad, me, and millions of others. Prayers for those that did know him!

"Live long and prosper. Peace and long life." It seems it could be said that that was true for the man who made those words famous... 83 years, wow! Leonard Nimoy, you will be missed. Thanks for the memories!

Jaime Heller

Despite the numerous roles he’s played over the last sixty years, Leonard Nimoy has been and always shall be my Spock. I don’t want to diminish his talent in any way by saying this, but Spock was the first role I saw him in and the last role I saw him in. And I’ve loved every moment of his character. From the Live Long and Prosper hand signal to the stoic dialogue, he was truly amazing at playing the “pointy-eared hobgoblin” (Bones’ words, not mine).

Star Trek has been something that kind of changed my life in a way only a handful of over fandoms have. For me, it was the “next step” beyond Star Wars to introduce me to my love for science fiction and fantasy. I used to “watch” the show with my dad, which became something much more special than “just another TV show” (we have all three seasons of the original series on DVD). But I’ll admit I didn’t really care much until the 2009 reboot movie came out.

And then I was in love and still am.

Leonard Nimoy starred in that as well—as the pivotal point of the story. And I loved J.J. Abrams and the rest of the crew for including him. Because it wasn’t just a reboot now. It was Star Trek in an alternate timeline. How cool was that?

In addition, Leonard Nimoy had that unique voice that could be recognized anywhere. From Atlantis to Transformers and various other voice acting roles in between I enjoyed watching movies that included his talent beyond just acting. I hadn’t even remembered how influential he had been in other things over the years.

But my favorite thing he has done besides Spock is the famous, hilarious, and downright perfect rendition of “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.” It’s definitely worth watching (and learning). And it appeared in the 2013 STID car commercial, “The Challenge,” that featured both Leonard Nimoy and Zachary Quinto (aka both Spocks) in a race to get to the golf country club. Also a hilarious moment that I will forever love.

Following Leonard Nimoy on twitter was also one of the best social media decisions of my life. Because not only was I following an 80+ year old man on twitter, but the advice and encouragement he spread across the web with a few typed tweets was wonderful. He “adopted” anybody who needed a grandpa as his grandchildren (“honoraries”), he encouraged people to stop smoking or not start at all, and he always ended his tweets with the #LLAP (Live Long and Prosper). He was truly an inspiration.

It was a sad day to hear he had died—especially since for me, it came quite unexpected. I immediately messaged my sister about it and we talked about how sad it was (we're both trekkies and she wrote a song for me about Star Trek once). It saddened me further when I realized next year would have been the 50th anniversary of Star Trek and he didn’t make it to that. The world has lost a bright star and it will be long and hard for Leonard Nimoy to be forgotten. He will always be Spock to me and he will always live long and prosper in the hearts of Trekkies everywhere.

Mirriam Neal

Looking back through my life, there are many threads that wind themselves back through every year as far as I can remember. Leonard Nimoy is one of these threads; or, more specifically, Mr. Spock and Star Trek. I grew up with my parents telling tales of Star Trek, tossing around quotes like ‘He’s dead, Jim’ or ‘There be whales here!’ or ‘I feel…fine.’ When I was old enough to watch them, I drank them in and immediately fell in love with Spock; throughout the whole Original Series, he was my favorite. His struggle to maintain his Vulcan dignity while grappling with his human half was something of constant interest.

Several years ago, a friend gave me a dozen vintage Star Trek books. One of them was full of behind-the-scenes stories, anecdotes and tales from the cast and crew. Leonard and William had an ongoing rivalry of the best kind – who could make the other laugh, who could shock the other most. Leonard would put William’s makeup in the fridge so it was freezing the next day, William would crack a joke on set in an attempt to break Leonard up during filming. You can find bloopers from the Original series on Youtube, and watching Leonard is always the best part. 

While he played a stoic Vulcan, Leonard was always the first to smile or laugh, the first to see the joke in any situation. He was a rare person, someone who took his craft seriously, who showed a sense of humor and a sense of solemnity. When I read the news of his death, I could only sit in shock while the reality of it seeped into my bones, and then I cried. It was surreal, a part of my life that would not stretch into my future. 

Leonard Nimoy meant a lot to me. He will always be part of my past, and when I tell my own children tales of Star Trek, I’ll tell them of Spock most of all; of the most human Vulcan in the universe. Thank you for everything, Leonard Nimoy. Live long and prosper.

Sky Destrian

Star Trek in my family is practically genetic. Just like your hair and eye color, Star Trek gets passed down throughout the generations. While the concept of traveling through space is certainly interesting, it's the heart of the show that I'm after: the people in it. The various Star Trek characters have meant so much to me over the years. So when I found out about the death of Leonard Nimoy, I cried.
I had already heard about the deaths of DeForest Kelley and James Doohan, but those were before I was born. This was real and happening right in front of me. It was my first experience parting with someone from the Star Trek universe, and someone who was extremely important to me at that.

I never met Mr. Nimoy, obviously. And even when it comes to Star Trek, I know the most about Star Trek: The Next Generation, not The Original Series. But, like many of my generation, one of my first exposures to the Original Series was through the 2009 reboot. As Jaime said, Leonard Nimoy starred in that, and he was fantastic. That was only the beginning.

My dad took me through the original Star Trek movies after that. We started with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, in which there's a moment that has every Star Trek fan crying at the end. That scene, and The Wrath of Khan, are both incredibly close to my heart. We then watched Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, which brought Spock to life in the most glorious of ways. 

But, I have to say, my favorite portrayal of Spock is in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Spock tries to fit into the hip and trendy world of Los Angeles, and due to this, he interjects swear words into his speech like everyone else. Hearing a Vulcan use profanity is one of the funniest things I've seen. It's so endearing, in a way, and quite frankly, hilarious. My favorite line is, "They are not the hell your whales!"

Though Spock was a logical being, set on the pursuit of the mind, I would argue that Spock has taught me--and all of us--how to feel. He is arguably one of the most sensible, real characters in Star Trek. While he claimed to be logical, underneath it all Spock was one of the most human characters of all.

As James Kirk said in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, "Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most... human." 

But I'd be amiss not to mention that Leonard Nimoy's life went far beyond his role as Spock. Nimoy was a writer, a director, a photographer, and a musician. He wrote two autobiographies, titled I Am Not Spock and I Am Spock, respectively. The titles (and content) of these autobiographies reflect the nuanced relationship Nimoy had with Spock. While it appears Nimoy grew to appreciate Spock later in life, he certainly felt the difficulties of being so closely associated with the character.

That's why I feel it's important to note Nimoy's other achievements. He had a great love for photography. He did several photo series focused  In 2007, he did a particularly meaningful photo series called "The Full Body Project," centered around celebrating fuller body-types. (There's a really awesome article about it, here.) His photography is also in several museums. 

Nimoy also went behind the camera; he directed several Star Trek movies, starting with Star Trek III. He was also a poet, and shared one last poem with us before he died.

While Leonard Nimoy is not Spock, through his roles in Star Trek over the years, he has impacted many people, the nerd community in particular. As Jaime mentioned before, Nimoy offered himself as an adoptive grandfather to anyone who wanted it. That's the kind of person he was to us: a fatherly figure, always there for us to trailblaze the way to our next adventure. He was the helmsman of what now has become a flourishing community of nerds. In many ways, he has changed the world of story and fandom forever. We are better people because of his existence, and I am thankful that he chose to share so much with us. 

The world lost someone incredible last Friday. However, I firmly believe his legacy will live on in many ways. It will live on every time we continue to look at the world with wonder and excitement, and metaphorically explore the stars (whatever that looks like for us). Most importantly, it will live on every time we improve our world.

"It's all about trying to make the world and the universe a better place. I'm proud to be connected with it. I think we need that in our lives. We need ethical, heroic people trying to do the right thing to help others and to improve life on this planet and in the universe." -- Leonard Nimoy

I can say that without a doubt, Leonard Nimoy has made the universe a better place. Because of him, I am inspired to do the same.

Thank you for your impact on the world and us, Mr. Nimoy. We have been, and always shall be, your fans. LLAP.
Artwork by Andy Marlette.

Please feel free to post your tribute to Leonard Nimoy in the comments.


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