The actor best known for his portrayal of Mr. Spock on Star Trek died February 27 at age 83 in his California home of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). He announced he had the disease last year. He had been a smoker for years, Nimoy said then, but had been tobacco-free for 30 years when he was diagnosed. He used his condition to urge others to quit smoking.
Nimoy's role as the ever-logical first mate on the Starship Enterprise won him legions of global fans, and the Star Trek voyage lasted well beyond the initial 1960's TV series, becoming a popular movie franchise, spawning sequels and garnering fans across generations.
During his career, Nimoy also starred in the Mission Impossible TV series and was a writer, photographer and singer. But nothing brought him as much acclaim as playing the pointy-eared Vulcan who created the "live long and prosper" catchphrase. For a time after the TV series ended, Nimoy railed against being so locked into Spock. His first autobiography, in fact, was titled I Am Not Spock.
In later years, however, he came to terms with his fame for the role, making frequent appearances at Trekkie conventions that attracted a whole new generation of self-proclaimed geeks and nerds.
Looking back, the show's social influence was profound. Its multi-ethnic cast and the way it tackled issues of difference across gender, race and culture was revolutionary. Those of us watching as kids and teens may have been more intrigued by the futuristic setting, the "beam me up" technology and the possibility of life on other planets than we were by considering our own changing national landscape.
But re-watching the show, it's easy to see how much Star Trek was inspired by and reflective of our formative years.
Nimoy is survived by his wife Susan Bay Nimoy, two children from his first marriage to actress Sandra Zober, his stepson and grandchildren.
Please share your thoughts and memories of Nimoy in our comments section below. He was an extraordinary man and actor who lived long and prospered. His last, poignant tweet reflects the man of deep feeling he was: "A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP" He will be missed.
Next Avenue brings you stories that are inspiring and change lives. We know that because we hear it from our readers every single day. One reader says,
"Every time I read a post, I feel like I'm able to take a single, clear lesson away from it, which is why I think it's so great."
Your generous donation will help us continue to bring you the information you care about. What story will you help make possible?