I imagine everyone who loves SF, and many more besides, will be saddened today at the news that Leonard Nimoy has died.
For most people I guess Nimoy will always be Commander Spock and I remember that when I watched the original Star Trek as a kid Spock was my favorite for reasons I could not then articulate. Looking back now it seems appropriate that I latched on to the character who was intelligent, but didn’t quite fit in with the people around him and didn’t always know how to relate to them, nor they to him. Perhaps that was a role model that I needed at the time. Maybe that’s reading too much into it. Maybe I just thought the nerve pinch was cool.
Either way, I remember my Mum and my Aunt being afraid to tell me how things went at the end of Wrath of Khan. Even then I knew Spock wasn’t really gone. Characters like that are hard to walk away from. One of those Immortals, I doubt not. I don’t want to write too much about Spock though, because Leonard Nimoy was not the character he played.
I never met Leonard Nimoy so I won’t pretend to know what he was like as a person. I think that’s a trap we often fall into with actors and celebrities in general – as fans we never really know them. That’s ok. We know their characters and their performances and it is ok to love those and to love the person who brought them to life. I wish, maybe especially today, that I had seen Mr. Nimoy bring more people to life after Spock.
I am not a great reader of biographies or autobiographies (and why not, I’m not sure) but I should probably read I am not Spock and I am Spock. It cannot be easy to have one’s own identity as completely conflated with a fictional character in the way his was, but by all accounts he handled it with grace.
I remember Mr. Nimoy as well from ‘In Search Of’, a program on various spooky mysteries that he narrated. I remember the Shroud of Turin and I think the Abominable Snowman and something called the Honey Island Monster that scared the willies out of me for some reason. ‘In Search Of’ (and some similarly-themed stuff that I read around the same time) probably has a lot to do with my love of spooky fiction ever since, and some of the stuff that I write as a result.
I guess the next thing I saw Leonard Nimoy in was Fringe. If you haven’t seen it he played the enigmatic parallel-universe traversing billionaire William Bell. The character was not the least bit like Spock. Nimoy’s performance was (to my untutored eye) superb – he was charming and likeable in one scene and then an absolutely terrifying bastard in the next one. The man could act, is what I am saying. It’s a shame that I didn’t really recognize that earlier.
Thanks for a lot, Mr. Nimoy, is I guess what I am trying to clumsily say. Thanks for bringing us an Immortal, and for being generous with your fans ever since. Thanks for sparking my imagination in a variety of different ways. Thanks for sharing your talent with us in all the ways that you did. It was a gift.
Yours was a long life, and very well lived. Rest well.