Let’s Talk About: Mr. Spock

One of my favorite TV stars was Mr. Spock of Star Trek. On a whim, I decided to learn more about Leonard Nimoy the man. Perhaps you’ve wondered too?

Leonard Simon Nimoy was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on 26 March 1931, to Dora (Spinner) and Max Nimoy, who owned a barbershop. His parents were Ukrainian Jewish immigrants. (“My folks came to the US as immigrants, aliens, and became citizens. I was born in Boston, a citizen, went to Hollywood and became an alien.”) He had one brother, Melvin. Raised in a tenement and acting in community theaters since age eight, Nimoy did not make his Hollywood debut until he was 20. After two years in the U.S. Army, he was still getting small, often uncredited, parts.

In February 1965, he made his first appearance as Spock in the Star Trek TV pilots “The Cage” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” and went on to play the character until the end of the production run in early 1969…… soon followed by eight feature films and guest appearances in later spin-offs in the franchise.

Got his famous role of Spock on Star Trek (1966) in part because discussions among writers and producers of the series about the character of Spock led them to put out the word that they were looking for a tall, thin guy to play the role of an alien crew member. Gene Roddenberry and casting director Joseph D’Agosta remembered Nimoy from his work in Roddenberry’s first TV series, the WWII drama The Lieutenant (1963). After being invited to come look at the sets and props, Nimoy was offered the role…and so was born his most famous role and start as a popular culture icon.

Leonard Nimoy first saw what would become the famous Vulcan salute, “Live Long and Prosper,” as a child. The placement of the hands comes from a childhood memory, or an Orthodox Jewish synagogue service in Boston. “This is the shape of the letter shin,” Nimoy said in the 2013 interview, making the famous “V” gesture. The Hebrew letter shin, he noted, is the first letter in several Hebrew words, including Shaddai (a name for God), Shalom (the word for hello, goodbye and peace).

The “Vulcan nerve pinch” concept on Star Trek (1966) was invented by Nimoy when he and the series’ writers were trying to figure out how an unarmed Spock could overpower an adversary without resorting to violence.

Leonard Nimoy was twice married and left a son and daughter. He was 6’1” tall, was an avid writer of poetry and wrote many books and he was best friends with William Shatner (only a few days older). He spoke Hebrew and Yiddish and was an advocate for keeping that language alive.

Mr. Spock passed away on 27 February 2015, one month away from what would have been his 84th birthday. Cause of death was COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). His final Tweet, posted four days before his death, was “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP”  (Live Long and Prosper)  He rests in Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.

A search with Google will give way more information than I included here.


One comment on “Let’s Talk About: Mr. Spock

  1. Colleen says:

    Thanks for your research Donna! Loved this! LLAP

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