Mr. Spock made “Live Long and Prosper” and the Vulcan gesture popular on Star Trek.
“Live Long and Prosper” was a phrase made popular by Leonard Nimoy in character as Mr. Spock on Star Trek: The Original Series. It was accompanied by a Vulcan salute which is a “v” formed by parting the middle and ring fingers and an extended thumb. Since it first debuted in the second season episode “Amok Time,” it has become an oft-used phrase and gesture by anyone and everyone connected to Star Trek and astronomy, whether it’s Trekkies, actors, crew members, astronauts, or top-level executives. Even former President Obama used the Vulcan salute when he was photographed alongside Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) in the White House.
Now, thanks to Youtuber John DiMarco, as originally reported by Nerdist, you can see each and every time the phrase and/or the salute were used on all Star Trek shows, including Lower Decks and Prodigy. In an eight-minute long video, there is one series missing, though. The salute and phrase was never used on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
The Vulcan salute proved difficult for some actors in the Star Trek franchise.
In his 1975 autobiography, I Am Not Spock, Nimoy wrote that the salute was based on the Priestly Blessing performed by Jewish Kohanim with both hands, thumb to thumb in this same position, which represents the Hebrew letter Shin which stands for El Shaddai, meaning “Almighty (God)”, as well as for Shekhinah and Shalom. Nimoy saw the blessing performed at an Orthodox synagogue, and he felt that Vulcans were hand-oriented people so this would work for them.
Some of the actors, though, had a difficult time with the salute and had to get creative when having to use it onscreen. The video above shows DeForest Kelley as Dr. McCoy struggling to get his fingers into position, and while it won’t help you to learn how to perform the salute yourself, Youtuber KhAnubis posted a video explaining why some people have difficulty with it.
One actor in particular who needed special assistance was Zachary Quinto, who portrayed Mr. Spock, on the 2009 Star Trek movie and its sequels. Quinto had to have his fingers glued together in order to properly perform the salute. Celia Lovsky, who was T’Pau in “Amok Time” couldn’t get her fingers into position, either, so the film crew taped her fingers together. Her hand was then kept flat on the armrest of her chair so she only had to raise her hand into view at the appropriate time.
Though we haven’t seen the salute in any of the live-action series as of yet, with the upcoming debut of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, which includes Ethan Peck as Spock, it’s sure to make a reappearance.