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  • 02.27.15

R.I.P. Leonard Nimoy: A Look At The Star Trek Star’s Cultural Legacy

The actor most famous for his role as Spock has passed away from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Here are some of his finest moments.

R.I.P. Leonard Nimoy: A Look At The Star Trek Star’s Cultural Legacy

Leonard Nimoy, best known as Mr. Spock on Star Trek, has passed away from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at the age of 83. Of all the people who are “best known” for something very specific, he was perhaps best known in the best way.

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It’s a curse to be world-famous for one thing, especially when the nature of your career requires you to do and be any number of other things. While the Screeches and Urkels of the universe may have let razor-narrow typecasting sink them into obscurity, Leonard Nimoy’s struggle with being identified solely as Spock from Star Trek became more endearing as the label endured over many decades. (He wrote a book entitled I Am Not Spock and also one called I Am Spock.) Rather than an ongoing ridicule, for him it ultimately seemed like more of an honor. His was a role people loved so much that they couldn’t let go of it. And our love was so overwhelming that Nimoy ultimately embraced it. Let’s take a look at some of the ways Nimoy ran both towards and away from Spock over the years.

As a Vulcan, Spock was a singularly logical thinker, so the last thing he would be doing would be singing songs like “If I Had a Hammer.”

Nimoy was in possession of a Johnny Cash-like baritone, which he once applied to a folksy song about the hero character of The Hobbit, the pinnacle of Science Fiction’s genre-cousin, Fantasy.

Perhaps it was the music bug that got Nimoy to appear in the Bangles video, “Going Down To Liverpool”

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It wasn’t Nimoy’s musical abilities that inspired Pharrell Williams to name his record label “Star Trak,” though. Here the two of them are in conversation.

Nimoy once played a version of himself on The Simpsons who was characteristically in touch with, and touchy about, his Spock-side.

On another episode of The Simpsons, guest-starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson from The X-Files, Nimoy appeared just to lend sci-fi gravitas to the cold open.

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Finally, here he is in a recent Audi ad, facing off against the newer Spock from the JJ Abrams incarnation, Zachary Quinto.

Technologically savvy to the last, Nimoy was also quite active on Twitter for an 83-year old. Here is his final tweet, which referenced Star Trek with the initialism, LLAP, which stands for Spock’s catchphrase, “Live long and prosper.” Rest in peace, Leonard Nimoy. He may have been Spock all along, but more importantly, he was “Leonard Nimoy as Spock” to us. The man behind the character was inextricable from it, and as important and beloved as the character itself.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.

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