Happy Birthday Mr. Spock: Leonard Nimoy turned 87


The late Leonard Nimoy, the actor who portrayed Spock on the original Star Trek series, would’ve celebrated his 87th birthday yesterday.

Leonard Nimoy, who succumbed to lung disease, would’ve celebrated his 87th birthday yesterday. Ironically, his co-star and friend, William Shatner recently turned 87 and continues his prolific Hollywood work ethic. Nimoy’s son, Adam, celebrated his father by getting marrried to former Star Trek DS9 actress Terry Farrell yesterday.

Nimoy once said in an interview: “The problem is that I never had a job that lasted more than two weeks before Star Trek.”

It’s easy to look back with hindsight and describe Nimoy as the perfect actor to play Spock. But what if Martin Landau had landed the role instead?

Landau was originally offered the role before Nimoy. However, as Landau mentioned in a 2001 interview, he said he couldn’t perform in the role of a character lacking in emotions as it “would drive me crazy.” Nimoy was offered the job and, on the same Desilu lot, Landau took a role on Mission: Impossible. Ironically, after Star Trek’s cancellation, Nimoy replaced Landau on Mission.

Nimoy and Shatner continue to be intertwined as co-stars, their friendship and the popularity of their roles. If you think of 1960’s actors who were forever defined by their characters, we can consider Shatner as Kirk, Nimoy as Spock and Adam West as Batman. For these men, their characters overshadowed their own human lives.

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In his autobiography “I Am Spock,” Nimoy detailed the difficulties of un-linking his mind from the character. And like Shatner and West, he struggled with the off-set de-coupling of his personality from the character.

Nimoy made Spock work because his wiry-strong build, deep voice and high cheek bones. The actor, in conjunction with Star Trek production staff, helped shaped the character through his own vision, observations and contributions. TOS fans revel in watching Spock evolve from a loud, boisterous alien in “The Cage” to the vulnerable half-breed logician.

Once Nimoy reconciled his fate and accepted his life-long identification as Spock, we moved on to become a force in Hollywood with a number of science and sci-fi shows.

For young Star Trek fans in the 1970’s it was always a treat to catch “In Search Of” narrated by Nimoy with a scientific, Spock-like tone.

We miss Leonard Nimoy and with him, wherever he is, a happy birthday. Thank you for delivering performances we will never forget.