On February 27th, the world was shocked by the passing of Leonard Nimoy, famous for the roll of “Mr. Spock” on Star Trek. Growing up watching and being inspired by the antics of Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and the crew of the Enterprise, Houndstooth & Hardhats tossed out our plan for the show and spent around an hour remembering Mr. Nimoy. During this show and in the time since, and seeing the outpouring of tributes from the space community and world, I’ve realized just how important Leonard Nimoy really was.
Before Star Trek
Born in 1931 to refugees from the Soviet Union, Nimoy began his acting career at the age of 8, winning several awards throughout his childhood and graduating from UCLA with a BA in photography. From here, Nimoy found himself in the US Army’s Special Services division as an actor, featuring in various training films. After leaving the Army, he had a brief stint in the Western film world, as well as various other TV appearances, before landing the role of a half-alien science officer for the pilot of a certain Sci-Fi television series…
These are the voyages…
Star Trek sent Nimoy’s career skyrocketing, and for good reason. Though the show was cancelled due to lack of interest after an 80 episode run, it became one of the most influential works of fiction ever produced. Star Trek’s utopian, futuristic view of humanity was radical for its time, prominently featuring and African-American woman, a Russian, a Chinese, and a half-alien Jew in leading roles. This caused the show to receive much controversy throughout its run, with a turbulent civil rights movement rippling across America and the major powers of the world grappled in the Cold War.
Beyond this, Star Trek represented what humanity had always been, explorers. As the intrepid Enterprise crew streaked across the galaxy, tens of thousands of children watched in awe of this spirit of exploration. Foremost in the mind of many of these children was the pointy-eared, green-blooded science officer that was, on many occasions, more “fascinating” than the anomaly that the Enterprise was currently studying.
Perhaps one of the most memorable characters in the history of acting, Mr. Spock’s logical, unemotional approach to the situation at hand often served to point out the flaws in human thinking, but also ironically created a character that merited the line, delivered by Captain Kirk, “Of all the souls I have encountered on my travels, his was the most…human.”
Somehow, Nimoy’s performance of the emotionless Vulcan reminded all of us of the human nature, perhaps due to Spock’s naturally curious, inquisitive nature, or perhaps reminding us that below the emotions, there’s a Vulcan in all of us. Whatever the cause may be, Leonard Nimoy’s portrayal of Mr. Spock will forever be one of the industry’s greatest.
One To Beam Up
Following Nimoy’s death, the world seemed to stop. Twitter was covered in tribute messages, from fellow cast members, astronauts both on the ground and in orbit, the Director of NASA, and even President Obama.
Seeing the outpouring of tributes brings into realization, that we have a rare ability to say that, instead of the nation, the world mourns the lost of one of the great pioneers. Though he had never been to space, Leonard Nimoy’s work inspired thousands, including myself, to pursue the dream of spaceflight so someday we may embark on our own Star Trek.
Farewell Mr. Nimoy, and to the readers, Live Long and Prosper.
Article by Matthew Culver, host of Houndstooth & Hardhats on WVUAFM, Fridays 3-5pm