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  Leonard Nimoy
(1931–2015). American actor and director.

Acted in: Zombies of the Stratosphere (serial) (Fred C. Brannon 1952); Francis Goes to West Point (uncredited) Arthur LUBIN 1952); Them! (uncredited) (Gordon Douglas 1954); The Brain Eaters (Bruno Ve Sota 1958); "A Quality of Mercy" (1961), episode of The Twilight Zone; "The Production and Decay of Strange Particles," "I, Robot" (1964), episodes of The Outer Limits; Seven Days in May (uncredited) (John FRANKENHEIMER 1964); "The Project Strigas Affair" (1964), episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.; "The Dead Spy Scrawls" (1966), episode of Get Smart; Star Trek (tv series) (1966-1969); Mission Impossible (tv series) (1969-1971); "She'll Be Company for You," episode of Night Gallery (1972); Baffled (tv movie) (Philip Leacock 1973); The Missing Are Deadly (tv movie) (Don McDougall 1975); In Search Of ... (documentary tv series; host) (1976-1982); Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Phil KAUFMAN 1978); Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Robert WISE 1979); Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Nicolas MEYER 1982); Leonard Nimoy: Star Trek Memories (documentary) (Kevin Curtis 1983); "Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp," episode of Faerie Tale Theatre (1984); Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (William SHATNER 1989); "Unification" (1991), two-part episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (and produced) (Meyer 1992); "I, Robot" (1995), episode of The Outer Limits; Trekkies (documentary) (Roger Nygard 1997); David (tv movie) (Robert Markowitz 1997); The First Men on the Moon (video) (Jack Fletcher 1997); Brave New World (tv movie) (Leslie Libman and Larry Williams 1998); To Boldly Go ... Season One (documentary short) (2004); Sci Fi Visionaries (documentary short) (2004); Reflections on Spock (documentary short 2004); Birth of a Timeless Legacy (documentary short) (2004); Star Trek (J. J. ABRAMS 2009); Spacelift: Transporting Trek into the 21st Century (documentary short) (2011); Fringe (tv series) (2009-2012); Star Trek into Darkness (Abrams 2013).

Provided voice for: Star Trek (animated tv series) (1973-1975); Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator (video game) (1983); Transformers: The Movie (Nelson Shin 1986); Star Trek: 25th Anniversary Enhanced (video game) (1992); The Halloween Tree (Mario Piluso 1993); Lights: The Miracle of Chanukah (animated short) (1993); "Marge vs. the Monorail" (1993), "The Springfield Files" (1997, episodes of The Simpsons; The Pagemaster (Pixote Hunt, Maurice Hunt, and Joe Johnston 1994); Star Trek: Judgment Rites (video game) (1994); "Where No Duckman Has Gone Before" (1997), episode of Duckman; Armageddon: Target Earth (documentary; narrator) (1998); Invasion: America (Dan Faucett 1998); "Space Pilot 3000" (1999), "Where No Fan Has Gone Before" (2002), episodes of Futurama; Seaman (video game) (1999); Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists (Gordon Hunt and Evan Ricks 2000); Atlantis: The Los Empire (Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise 2001); Atlantis: The Lost Empire (video game) (2001); "Where No Fan Has Gone Before" (2002), episode of Futurama; Civilization IV (video game) (2005); Land of the Lost (Brad Silberling 2009); Star Trek Online (video game) (2009);  Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (video game) (Tetsuya Nomura 2010); Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Michael BAY 2011); "The Transformer Malfunction" (2012) (uncredited), episode of The Big Bang Theory; Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (video game) (Tetsuya Nomura 2012); Zambezia (animated film) (Wayne Thornley 2012).

Acted in and directed: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984); Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986).

Directed: "Death on a Barge," episode of Night Gallery (1972); "The Triangle" (1982), episode of The Powers of Matthew Star.

Produced: Deadly Games (tv series) (1995-1996).

The power and pathos of Leonard Nimoy's most noteworthy performances have resonated deeply with many science fiction fans, so that he remains the most important and evocative of all of the actors who have appeared in various incarnations of Star Trek. For Mr. Spock is a man whose intelligence and abilities clearly distinguish him as a person who should be a leader; yet because the world cannot accept his odd demeanor, and perhaps because of his own retiring temperament, he is destined to forever be a follower. Other commentators have related this situation to Nimoy's Jewish heritage; but this is also the plight of the nerd, the geek, the loner, the person who will never be elected president of anything but the chess club. More so than the more conventional William SHATNER then, Nimoy seems the quintessential science fiction hero, and his Spock stands with Michael RENNIE's Klaatu and David BOWIE's Thomas Jerome Newton as one of the great performances of science fiction film.

Prior to Star Trek, Nimoy had worked steadily but unobtrusively for fifteen years, including some performances in science fiction film and television that have been noticed only because of his later celebrity. Perhaps the most interesting of these is his wise-cracking reporter in an episode of The Outer Limits, "I, Robot," demonstrating a versatility he would rarely be asked to display during his later career.  (He would also take on the better, and more characteristic, role of the compassionate lawyer defending the maligned robot in the 1995 remake of the episode.) Having encountered Gene RODDENBERRY while filming an episode of The Lieutenant (1963-1964), he was recruited to appear in his next series, Star Trek. However, in the original pilot, Spock was only a minor supporting role, an odd-looking alien with funny ears designed to add an air of the exotic to the Enterprise crew; but NBC's displeasure with Majel Barrett RODDENBERRY's female second-in-command elevated Nimoy to that position in the second pilot and also foregrounded his half-Vulcan heritage of suppressed emotions. Thoughtfully and passionately, Nimoy seized upon the role, developing distinctive elements of Vulcan culture like the nerve-pinch (reportedly as a device to keep him away from fisticuffs) and the Vulcan hand salute (originally a Jewish gesture) and insisting upon the integrity of the character even during the reign of insensitive third-season producer Fred FREIBERGER.

The highlight of his Star Trek career came in the 1968 episode "The Tholian Web," which lacks in reruns the power of its initial airing because, now, viewers know immediately that the death of Shatner's Kirk, and the elevation of Spock to the captaincy, are only temporary, and not a prelude to a permanent casting change. But unlike an earlier episode, "The Galileo Seven" (1967), which had disingenuously endeavored to argue that Spock was unfit for command, he did perfectly fine in that role in "The Tholian Web," capably dealing with the alien menace at hand. But even Nimoy's greatest fans would probably concede the appropriateness of ultimately finding Kirk alive and returning him to commanding the Enterprise; for clearly, while he was not as talented as Spock, he had always looked comfortable in the captain's chair, and Spock never really did.

After the cancellation of Star Trek, Nimoy smoothly transitioned into a regular role in Mission: Impossible, replacing Martin LANDAU (another talented but reticent Jewish actor) as the team's specialist in disguises. In a few episodes, one can observe him attempting to bring some depth and complexity to the character of Paris, but the character was written as a cipher, and Nimoy grew bored with the show and left after two seasons. (Possibly, as a perpetual outsider, he also did not much appreciate the show's neocolonialist approach to dealing with world problems.) During the 1970s, along with appearances in television movies, he became the host of the paranormal documentary series In Search Of .... Now, many science fiction performers have earned extra paychecks by narrating or hosting documentaries about UFOs, Bigfoot, asteroid impacts, and so on, but Nimoy uniquely cared about what he was doing; he actively participated in research and preparation for series episodes, as if he actually believed that the show might uncover valuable new data and contribute to the world's understanding of unusual phenomena, and he may have also enjoyed the unusual experience of being in charge of a project. Later, however, as the series began to run out of subjects and its inefficacy became more apparent, Nimoy visibly lost interest in the series and was probably relieved when it was finally cancelled.

Nimoy originally resisted the notion of reprising the character of Spock, declining to participate in the planned television revival of Star Trek and, initially, the feature film that replaced it. He was finally lured back on board the Enterprise, I suspect, not so much by a larger paycheck but by script revisions that actually gave him something to do with the part. Thus, while other series actors were striving to duplicate their old mannerisms, Nimoy was actively endeavoring to act in the resulting film, so that buried within the somnabulatory pomposity of Star Trek: The Motion Picture is an interesting 20-minute movie about Spock, his failure to achieve a complete Vulcan suppresion of his emotions, and his ultimate acceptance of his human heritage. Nimoy also figures in the film's most impressive scene, as a spacesuited Spock flies out on a lonely mission to investigate the immense and mysterious alien spacecraft. With nothing more to do with the character, Nimoy arranged for Spock to be killed off in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but the unexpected success of that second film inspired great pressure to bring Spock back—pressure that Nimoy eventually succumbed to in exchange for the opportunity to direct the third Star Trek film. His work on Star Trek III: The Search for Spock was merely competent, given the necessity of wrestling with a complicated and contrived story line in order to undo everything that had occurred in the second film and restore the Star Trek universe to its previous condition, but Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was another story—a brilliant film that finally recaptured the humor and charm of the original series while unfolding an evocative ecological drama about the future revival of the extinct humpback whale. The unassuming Nimoy suddenly seemed poised to become a great science fiction film director, but he unwisely steered clear of the genre in the directing assignments he chose, and after one great success (Three Men and a Baby [1987]) and one egregious failure (The Good Mother [1988]) his directing career essentially came to an end, though he did garner a few more unheralded assignments in film and television.

After portraying Spock in two more films and a two-part episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Nimoy spent the rest of his career working sporadically as an actor, frequently focusing on undemanding voiceover assignments. But he was an inspired addition to the Fringe television series, and he lent his voice to other geek favorites like Futurama (1999- ) and The Big Bang Theory (2007- ). More conspicuously, when J. J. ABRAMS undertook to launch a new version of Star Trek, he wisely recruited Nimoy to serve as the film's elder statesman, harkening back to the original series and effectively giving his blessing to a new generation of Star Trek actors taking on his and other classic roles. If the next film, Star Trek into Darkness, was less successful, that was due in part to Nimoy's absence, except for a fleeting cameo; perhaps his declining health necessarily limited his role. but he also may have deliberately chosen to withdraw from active participation in the film series in order to allow Zachary QUINTO to grow into the part.

Nimoy's death in early 2015 spoke volumes about his significance to the Star Trek franchise: after he died with grace and dignity, Shatner, citing other commitments, insensitively declined to attend his funeral. As noted elsewhere, William Shatner must be credited with bringing emotion and excitement to Star Trek, but it was always Leonard Nimoy who provided the series with class.

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