Though he was widely known for playing a very popular character in several TV series and a film franchise, there was more to actor Leonard Nimoy than portraying Mr. Spock. Nimoy, who died Friday February 27 at his home in Bel Air, California, was also a poet, photographer, singer, TV host, and film director. Still, through all of his other interests and roles, he still embraced the Spock character.
For a short time though, he didn’t, penning a book in 1975, at the height of the show’s revival in syndication, titled I Am Not Spock. The book upset some Trekkers, but Nimoy later explained he was simply trying to say he had more to offer as a person than playing the part of an alien in a popular TV series. In 1995, he wrote a second book, I Am Spock, in which he professed to have embraced what had become an alter-ego of sorts. Nimoy went on to great success in other pursuits while making cameos in various Star Trek projects. He also made brief appearances in shows like The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory, getting a few laughs based on his most popular role.
Of the show’s original cast, Nimoy is tied with Majel Barrett (Nurse Chapel) for having the longest history with the franchise. Both appear in the 1965 pilot “The Cage,” though only Nimoy’s character made it to the second pilot. Many of the traits of her character, Number One, were folded into Nimoy’s Spock. Taking on her emotionless veneer, and post as second in command, Spock went on to become the show’s most popular character, rivaling William Shatner’s Captain Kirk. Nimoy remained friendly with the entire cast throughout the TV series and the films while Shatner’s was somewhat strained.
Prior to Star Trek, Nimoy did guest appearances on several TV shows including The Virginian, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, and Combat! Post-Trek he was on Mission: Impossible in the role of Paris. In the 1970s, he hosted the highly popular syndicated program In Search of… which looked at unexplained mysteries and paranormal phenomena.
With the success of the Star Trek movies, Nimoy was able to move into the director’s chair, where he first sat in 1973 for the Night Gallery episode “Death on a Barge.” His first foray into directing a feature film was Star Trek III: The Search for Spock followed by Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. He also directed the hit 1987 comedy 3 Men and a Baby. He continued to pursue his various artistic interests until his death.
PF Wilson has been writing about music, TV, radio, and movies for over 20 years. He has also written about sports, business, and politics with his work appearing in Cincinnati CityBeat, The Houston Press, Cleveland Scene, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine, Atomic Ranch, and many more. Check out his podcast PF’s Tape Recorder available from Podbean or in iTunes.