The Star Trek world lost one of it’s founding fathers this past Friday when Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock) passed away at the age of 83. I know when I read the news that I immediately felt a sense of emptiness as my heart just sank. I never knew the guy personally or even met him at a Star Trek Convention, but I was a devoted fan of the man for just about as long as I can remember.
This will be the first time I’ve “Trekked Out” on here as all of my other posts have been about wrestling, sports or of a personal category, so please just bear with me here as I venture into my geekdom and give my thoughts on this man’s contribution to my love of his work
I have been, and forever shall be….your friend. – Mr. Spock
Growing up, I can remember watching reruns of Star Trek on Saturday afternoons with my dad. He introduced me to this world of interplanetary exploration and the positive outlook that Gene Roddenberry had for the future of the human race. In Gene Roddenberry’s future, there is no money, the bad people aren’t human, rather they’re alien species who don’t agree with the peaceful mindset of the United Federation of Planets. On the starship that this television universe is based on, the Starship Enterprise, humans live and explore the galaxy alongside aliens we have aligned ourselves with who we deem to be good people (for lack of a better term).
At the helm of the ship is the Captain, James T. Kirk…a cunning, courageous, womanizing and quite often emotional hero who pushes his crew to perform at a level that no other crew in Starfleet history could. It’s because of these qualities that his crew is at the center of so many disputes and is always counted on to save the day. His first officer however, is an emotionless pointy-eared Vulcan named Mr. Spock whose logical, calculating mind is the reason so much of what they accomplish is possible.
In reality, when you look back on it, it’s quite amazing to think that this actor who portrayed an alien on a tv show which aired almost 50 years ago now for only 3 years is so revered for this singular character. Hell, his first autobiography was named “I Am Not Spock” — which was published in 1975, a full 6 years after the series was off the air. Which goes to show how so many fans of this show latched onto that character and loved everything about what Gene Roddenberry and these actors had created for such a short time.
1972 saw the first Star Trek Convention take place where the actors from that show came together to meet with fans, tell stories, answer questions, take pictures with and sign autographs for fans. Now, 40 years later it’s much larger of a concept as there have now been four live action, one animated spinoff tv shows and twelve full-length movies all created off of that original concept of this space-faring group of explorers.
Leonard Nimoy was such an essential cog of that wheel as time went on. As important as the whole crew was to the show, there really were three central characters: Captain Kirk, played by William Shatner, Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, played by DeForest Kelley, and Mr. Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy. While this was apparent on the series in a number of episodes, it became much more obvious in the movies which started filming much later in the late 70s. There were so many essential scenes in these movies that were strictly those three characters reacting to things going on around them and problem solving to save the day for the galaxy.
But Mr. Nimoy wasn’t done with Star Trek once these movies were done. One of the great aspects of the Star Trek realm is that almost every group of cast members helped to launch the next tv series. DeForest Kelley and James Doohan each had cameos in early episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generaion, and Leonard Nimoy even starred in a two-part episode later on in the series, reprising his character, now Ambassador Spock interacting with Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise D. Their interactions with this new crew helped to pass the torch on to this new group of actors trying their best to continue what what started 20 years prior.
Though he would continue producing, directing and acting in other ventures, none would be tied to his legacy like Star Trek would. He was also a photographer and also lent his legendary voice to numerous projects. In fact, when Star Trek Online was first brought up and was in it’s development stages, Mr. Nimoy was called upon to do voiceovers in the game. And if you think about it, imagine trying to explain a massively-multiplayer-online roleplaying game to an 80 year old, I’m sure he had no idea what this was going to be or how big it would grow to be. Truth is, thousands of Trekkies now manage their own captains with starships and play pre-written missions together, going boldly online together. In fact, there was an interesting piece written about how over a thousand players converged on the in-game version of Mr Spock’s home planet of Vulcan to pay respects on the night of the passing of Mr. Nimoy. I was there, it was kinda wild to see so many people just hanging out there almost like a wake. In fact, the developers have put out a blog saying that as of March 5th, there will be a monument of some sort added to the game as a memorial for Mr. Nimoy and all of his contributions to this world of Star Trek that we all know and love.
I can remember just a few years ago, watching another sci-fi show called Fringe. In the first few episodes, you’re introduced to this mad scientist type guy named Walter Bishop (played by John Noble) who has been institutionalized the last 17 years, who is now being tabbed by the feds to try to make sense of some strange occurrences that have been reported recently. During his investigation of these occurrences, he tells stories of how he and his previous lab partner, William Bell had been experimenting with things that had somewhat resembling effects. When trying to get in contact with his old lab partner, who is the head of a company called Massive Dynamic, it is revealed that no one knows where William Bell is and why it appears that he’s behind all the strange occurrences, as roadblocks are put up in front of the main character, Olivia Dunham as Bell’s company, Massive Dynamic is kind of on the feds’ “do not question” list. So the main characters have limited interaction with Massive Dynamic and anyone close to Bell…until the end of the first season, when Bell pulls Olivia into an alternate reality, where he has an office atop the World Trade Center (which was never destroyed as 9/11 never happened there) and Bell turns out to be played by Leonard Nimoy. Nimoy would go on to be an integral part of the early seasons of this show as he would work alongside John Noble’s character to solve these mysteries.
Nimoy rightfully has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as he gave so much of himself to this genre over the years that even if you aren’t a Trekkie, this is still a tough loss. Thank you for all the hard work over the years and we will forever appreciate everything you did to lay the groundwork for this phenomenon we call Star Trek that will be celebrating it’s 50th anniversary next year with another movie being released. The conventions continue to be big draws for legions of fans who desperately want to “go boldly”. Hell, even NASA astronauts paid their respects to one of the men who inspired them to take the life path they chose to.
The world lost a great actor, director, photographer, poet and song writer. Those who got to experience some of his work will never forget him.
Of my friend, I can only say this: Of all the souls I’ve encountered in my travels, his was the most….human. – William Shatner (as Captain James T. Kirk)