27 Feb 2015

Star Trek’s ‘Spock’ Leonard Nimoy dies aged 83

The Star Trek star Leonard Nimoy, who earned global fame as “Spock”, has died at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 83.

Nimoy, most famed for his role as Mr Spock on the original Star Trek series from 1966 to 1969, was hospitalised last week following complaints of severe chest pains. His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, confirmed his death on Friday, saying the cause was chronic obstructive pulmonary (Cop) disease.

During his life Nimoy was a poet, singer and photographer. But it was his role as Mr Spock was catapulted him to fame. He became a household name for Star Trek fans across the world – even playing cameo roles in the Star Trek franchise at late as 2009 and 2013 in a follow-up movie.

But his ambivalence towards the role was clear: his two autobiographies were titled I Am Not Spock (1975) and I Am Spock (1995).

Nimoy announced last year that he suffered from Cop disease, which he attributed to years of smoking, a habit he had given up 30 years earlier. He was recently pictured looking frail and using an oxygen cylinder as he was wheeled through New York’s JFK airport.

In latter years he was a frequent user of Twitter. His final tweet on 23 February read: “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.”

‘Perfect moments’

The son of a barber, Nimoy was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on 26 March 1931 to Ukrainian immigrants who were Orthodox Jews. He is survived by his wife, their children Adam and Julie Nimoy, six grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

In 1954 Nimoy married Sandra Zober, a fellow student at the Pasadena Playhouse, with whom he had two children, Julie and Adam. But the couple divorced, and in 1988 he married Susan Bay, a film production executive.

From 1976 to 1982, he hosted the syndicated TV series In Search of…, which attempted to probe such mysteries as the legend of the Loch Ness Monster and the disappearance of aviator Amelia Earhart.

He played Israeli leader Golda Meir’s husband opposite Ingrid Bergman in the TV drama A Woman Called Golda and Vincent van Gogh in Vincent, a one-man stage show on the life of the troubled painter. He continued to work well into his 70s, playing gazillionaire genius William Bell in the Fox series Fringe.

He also directed several films, including the hit comedy Three Men and a Baby and appeared in such plays as A Streetcar Named Desire, ‘Cat on a Hot Tim Roof, ‘Fiddler on the Roof, The King and I, ‘My Fair Lady and Equus.

‘Logic versus pain’

However glittering his other projects, Nimoy could never really escape the role that took him overnight from bit-part actor status to TV star. In a 1995 interview he sought to analyse the popularity of Spock, the green-blooded space traveler who aspired to live a life based on pure logic.

People identified with Spock, he said, because they “recognise in themselves this wish that they could be logical and avoid the pain of anger and confrontation”.

As news of his death broke on Friday just before 5.30pm in London, tributes poured in.