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Leonard Nimoy

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Leonard Simon Nimoy (born 26 March 1931; age 85) is the actor who is best known for his Emmy Award-nominated portrayal of Spock, the half Human, half Vulcan first officer and science officer aboard the USS Enterprise. Originating the role on Star Trek: The Original Series, he went on to play him again on Star Trek: The Animated Series, the first six Star Trek motion pictures, and the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes "Unification I" and "Unification II". He has also left his mark on the Trek franchise as a director, writer, and producer.

Footage of his role from the TOS episode "The Trouble with Tribbles" was reused for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations". Nimoy also voiced Spock in the video games Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator, Star Trek: 25th Anniversary, Star Trek: Judgment Rites, and Star Trek Online.

Nimoy returned to the role of Spock in Star Trek; it was the first time he played the character since 1991 and was his first live-action film role since Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.


Nimoy was born in Boston, Massachusetts just four days after his Star Trek co-star, William Shatner. Like Shatner, he is of Ukrainian-Jewish ancestry (his family name means "person who cannot speak" in Russian) and, like his character of Spock, Nimoy is a vegetarian.

He entered Boston College on a dramatic scholarship, but dropped out and headed for the West Coast knowing there he would find more lucrative opportunities in the acting business. In 1954 he married Sandi Zober, with whom he had two children – Adam and Julie. In the hospital scene in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, a voice can be heard paging "Dr. Sandi Zober." His second wife, Susan Bay, starred in two episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as Admiral Rollman in "Past Prologue" and "Whispers".

In the early 1950s, Nimoy served as a member of the United States Army Reserve. He served for eighteen months in Special Services at Ft. McPherson in Georgia and received a discharge in 1955 as a sergeant. Unfortunately, Nimoy's Army personnel file was destroyed in 1973 during a major fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri.

In December 2002, Nimoy announced his retirement from acting and his plans to spend his retirement as a photographer. He came out of retirement to play Spock in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek. Regardless, Nimoy enjoys a new career in his senior years as a professional photographer showing his prints all over the United States and throughout the world.

Early career

Nimoy began his Hollywood career with small roles in the 1951 films Queen for a Day and Paramount Pictures' Rhubarb. Nimoy then played the title role in the boxing drama Kid Monk Baroni and played the Martian invader Narab in the science fiction serial Zombies of the Stratosphere (later edited and released as a feature, Satan's Satellites), both released in 1952. In 1954, he made an uncredited appearance in the classic science fiction film Them!, as did Richard Bellis, Lawrence Dobkin, and William Schallert. Four years later, he had a supporting role in another science fiction film, The Brain Eaters.

In the mid-1950s, Nimoy began appearing in various television guest shots, with his first being a 1954 episode of Dragnet. (He would make a second appearance on this series four years later, with his "Amok Time" co-star Celia Lovsky.) Between 1958 and 1960 alone, Nimoy was seen on such classic television shows as Sea Hunt, Wagon Train (working with future Trek co-stars Roy Jenson, Susan Oliver, and Phillip Pine, as well as Nehemiah Persoff), The Tall Man (two episodes, including one with Marianna Hill and Charles Seel), Outlaws (in an episode with Alfred Ryder), The Rebel (with Arlene Martel), and Bonanza (in an episode written by Gene L. Coon).

Nimoy's subsequent TV credits include a 1961 episode of Rawhide and a 1963 episode of Perry Mason with Arthur Batanides, a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone with Dean Stockwell (and concocted by Sam Rolfe), a 1962 episode of Laramie with Michael Forest, and a 1962 episode of Sam Benedict with Paul Carr and Joanne Linville, as well as numerous episodes of the classic western series Gunsmoke, including one in 1963 with Bill Zuckert and another in 1966 with Richard Webb. He was also seen in a 1962 episode of The Untouchables, which, like Star Trek, was produced by Desilu before it became part of Paramount. In 1964, he appeared in two episodes of the classic sci-fi anthology series, The Outer Limits – "The Production and Decay of Strange Particles" with Joseph Ruskin, Barry Russo, Rudy Solari, Robert Fortier and Willard Sage; and "I, Robot" with Peter Brocco, Marianna Hill, and John Hoyt. He also co-starred with Sally Kellerman in a 1966 episode of A Man Called Shenandoah.

His feature film credits during the 1960s consisted of a supporting role in the 1963 drama The Balcony (with Peter Brocco), an uncredited appearance in the acclaimed John Frankenheimer thriller Seven Days in May, and a role alongside Michael Forest and Robert Ellenstein in the 1966 drama Deathwatch (featuring music by Gerald Fried). Nimoy also produced the latter film.

Nimoy first worked with his future Trek co-star DeForest Kelley (Doctor Leonard "Bones" McCoy) in a 1959 episode of 26 Men entitled "Trail of Revenge." Prior to Star Trek, he again worked with Kelley in a 1963 episode of The Virginian. Nimoy also appeared in two 1965 episodes of The Virginian, working with Michael Ansara, Hal Baylor, Richard Beymer, Rex Holman, Sherry Jackson, and Ken Lynch.

In 1964, Nimoy and his soon-to-be Star Trek co-star William Shatner worked together for the first time. This occasion occurs in the Joseph Sargent-directed episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. entitled "The Project Strigas Affair." In this episode, Nimoy and Shatner, who never appeared together in any of the same scenes of the episode, are on opposite sides, with Nimoy playing the right-hand-man of a diplomat attempting to initiate a war between the United States and the Soviet Union and Shatner playing the reluctant U.N.C.L.E. recruit who must help foil the diplomat's plot. Nimoy and Shatner began working together on Star Trek just two years later.

The Star Trek years

LeonardNimoy No1Vulcan

Nimoy shows his opinion of Spock at the 2007 Las Vegas Star Trek Convention

Late in 1963, Nimoy landed a guest role on The Lieutenant, a series starring Gary Lockwood and created by Gene Roddenberry. The episode he appeared in, entitled "In the Highest Tradition," co-starred Roddenberry's future wife, Majel Barrett. Roddenberry was also developing a science fiction series at the time and thought Nimoy would be perfect for it. Although he was initially up for the role of the ship's chief medical officer, Nimoy accepted the role as a half-Vulcan/half-Human named Spock on Roddenberry's series, entitled Star Trek, which made his career and changed his life.

The first Star Trek pilot, "The Cage", was filmed in November and December of 1964. Although the pilot was rejected by NBC, the studio allowed Roddenberry to produce a second pilot, which became "Where No Man Has Gone Before". Many cast changes were made between the first pilot and the second, and Nimoy was the only principal cast member from "The Cage" to return for the second pilot. Following this pilot, Star Trek was picked up as a series.

During his time on Star Trek, Nimoy was responsible for many traits which have become associated with Spock or Vulcans in general, including the Vulcan salute and the Vulcan nerve pinch. For his supporting role as Spock, Nimoy was nominated for an Emmy Award for each of the show's three years. Despite this, it was while working on Star Trek that Nimoy became an alcoholic. He never drank during the day or during work, but the moment work was done, he would desperately want a drink; because of that, he also became suicidal and depressed. [1] Fortunately, Nimoy was able to attain remissions of these illnesses and continue his acting career.

Low ratings led to Star Trek's cancellation in 1969. Including the two pilots, Nimoy appeared in all 79 episodes of the series, the only actor to do so.

After Star Trek

After the cancellation of Star Trek, Nimoy moved on to another Desilu/Paramount series, Mission: Impossible, playing the regular character of Paris for two seasons (1969 - 1971). He joined the series as a replacement for the departing Martin Landau, who, ironically, was up for the role of Spock before Nimoy got the part. Lee Meriwether had a recurring role during Nimoy's first season on Mission: Impossible. Brooke Bundy and Alfred Ryder had roles in "The Controllers", the first episode shot with Nimoy. Many other past and future Star Trek actors appeared with Nimoy during his two seasons on Mission: Impossible, including Arlene Martel and David Opatoshu in the episode "Terror."

After Mission: Impossible, Nimoy starred with Lloyd Haynes, Malachi Throne, William Windom, and John Winston in the ABC Movie of the Week Assault on the Wayne (for Paramount Television) and co-starred with Yul Brynner, Richard Crenna, and TOS guest actor Jeff Corey in the western film Catlow, both released in 1971. He then starred in three 1973 TV movies: an unsold pilot titled Baffled! (as a race car driver who has visions of people dying), Columbo: A Stitch in Crime (as a murderous doctor), and The Alpha Caper (co-starring James B. Sikking, Paul Sorenson, Vic Tayback, and Kenneth Tobey).

Nimoy made his directorial debut with a 1973 episode of Night Gallery entitled "Death on a Barge," which featured one-time TOS guest actor Lou Antonio and future TNG guest actress Brooke Bundy. Nimoy cast Lesley Ann Warren, one of his Mission: Impossible castmates, in the lead role in this episode. He also appeared as an actor on Night Gallery, in a segment entitled "She'll Be Company For You," alongside Kathryn Hays, and directed by TOS cinematographer Gerald Perry Finnerman. Finnerman also photographed the aforementioned episode directed by Nimoy. Also in 1973, Nimoy made his Broadway debut in a revival of the play Full Circle, working with future Star Trek: Enterprise guest star Peter Weller.

In 1976, Nimoy began hosting a television series called In Search Of..., a syndicated documentary program dealing with topics such as Bigfoot and other monsters, Atlantis, Stonehenge, Jack the Ripper, and other unsolved mysteries. Although the series ended in 1982, the A&E Network and later A&E's The History Channel aired In Search Of... throughout the 1990s and the early 2000s.

Return to Trek

In 1973 Nimoy reprised the role of Spock for the first time since 1969, voicing the character in Star Trek: The Animated Series for Filmation. Although this series ended in 1974 after only 22 episodes, a new live-action series, Star Trek: Phase II, began production shortly thereafter. Nimoy, however, opted out of this series after learning that his role would be essentially a part-time one, and his character was replaced by a young Vulcan named Xon, who would have been played by David Gautreaux.

While Paramount was busy bring Phase II to fruition, Nimoy moved on, continuing to host In Search Of..., appearing in the Broadway production of Equus, and starring in the 1978 remake of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, earning a Saturn Award nomination from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for his work on the latter. By this time, production on Phase II had ceased and the pilot for that series was being turned into the first Star Trek film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Nimoy was ultimately persuaded to reprise Spock for The Motion Picture, which debuted in the United States on 7 December 1979 and marked the beginning of a new era for Star Trek and for Nimoy.

Nimoy and Crosby

Nimoy with Denise Crosby on the set of "Unification II"

Nimoy received a Saturn Award nomination for his portrayal of Spock in The Motion Picture. He went on to play Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, although he was at first reluctant to do so. Spock seemingly perished at the end of Wrath of Khan, but Nimoy returned to the role for four more films: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. He also directed and co-wrote the stories for The Search for Spock and The Voyage Home and executive produced and co-wrote the story for The Undiscovered Country. He earned Saturn Award nominations for directing The Search for Spock and for his performance in and direction of The Voyage Home.

In 1991 Nimoy reprised his role as Spock for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes "Unification I" and "Unification II". Due to his schedule, the second part was filmed prior to the first part as most of his appearance were in the second part. A few additional scenes of the first part were filmed during principal photography of the second part. Nimoy filmed his scenes for both episodes between Monday 9 September 1991 and Friday 13 September 1991 on Paramount Stage 8, 9, and 16. The call sheet for Tuesday 10 September 1991 advised the transportation department to pick up Nimoy at his hotel at 5:10 am because of his makeup call at 5:40 am.

In 1994, Nimoy was asked to appear as Spock in Star Trek Generations, the seventh Star Trek feature and the first to feature the crew of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The film's script originally had a role for Nimoy, but it was not to Nimoy's satisfaction and he declined the offer. Explaining his reason for turning down the film, Nimoy remarked:

"There was no Spock role in that script... there were five or six lines attributed to Spock [...] but it had nothing to do with Spock... I said to [co-writer] Rick Berman, 'You could distribute these lines to any one of the other characters and it wouldn't make any difference.' And that is exactly what he did. There was no Spock function in the script. I have always tried to make a contribution to these movies. There was no contribution to be made in that movie."

Several costumes and costume pieces worn by Nimoy were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, including his headband from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. [2]

Other film and television works

Between his work on the Star Trek films, Nimoy worked on numerous television projects. In 1981, he directed and starred in his own television adaptation of the one-man play Vincent, portraying Vincent van Gogh's brother, Theo. In 1982, he received his fourth Emmy nomination for his supporting role in the telefilm A Woman Called Golda and appeared in the mini-series Marco Polo, starring Kenneth Marshall in the title role and co-starring F. Murray Abraham and David Warner.

Also during this time, Nimoy directed an episode of William Shatner's new series, T.J. Hooker, reportedly in preparation for directing Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Special Edition) special features) He later guest-starred on the series, which also starred Star Trek: Deep Space Nine performer James Darren.

Nimoy later appeared in the James Goldstone-directed TV movie The Sun Also Rises, based on the Ernest Hemingway novel. He then worked with director Tim Burton to play the villain in the Faerie Tale Theatre production of Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp. Nimoy also lent his voice to the role of Galvatron in The Transformers: The Movie, the 1986 film based on the animated series. Among the others who voiced characters in the movie are Michael Bell, Roger C. Carmel, Walker Edmiston, Clive Revill, Frank Welker, and Orson Welles.

In 1987, Nimoy directed the hit comedy 3 Men and a Baby, his first non-Star Trek feature film. Subsequent films he directed were The Good Mother (1988), Funny About Love (1990, featuring Michael Bofshever and Celeste Yarnall), and Holy Matrimony (1994, starring Jeffrey Nordling and John Schuck); frequent Trek editor Peter E. Berger edited all three of these films. Nimoy's latest directorial effort was a 1995 episode of the short-lived UPN series Deadly Games, starring Christopher Lloyd.

Nimoy starred in the 1991 television drama Never Forget, directed by Joseph Sargent, and voiced the mysterious Mr. Moundshroud in the 1993 animated movie The Halloween Tree. In addition, he voiced Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the 1994 live-action/animated fantasy The Pagemaster, which also featured the voices of Patrick Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, Frank Welker, George Hearn, Robert Picardo, and Christopher Lloyd. In 1995, Nimoy appeared on The Outer Limits under the direction of his son, Adam.

Later projects

In 1996, Nimoy co-founded Alien Voices with John de Lancie and writer-producer Nat Segaloff. The audio production company/troupe produced several science fiction audio productions (including the two "Spock Vs. Q" audios) and a few televised specials for the Sci-Fi Channel: The First Men in the Moon in 1997 and The Lost World in 1998. Nimoy appeared in both of these films along with de Lancie, Ethan Phillips, and Dwight Schultz. William Shatner also starred in the first project; Roxann Dawson and Armin Shimerman had roles in the second.

In 1997, Nimoy played the biblical prophet Samuel. His partner in the TNT movie was TNG star Maurice Roëves.

In 1998, Nimoy appeared in a made-for-TV adaptation of Aldous Huxley's book, Brave New World, along with Miguel Ferrer, Daniel Dae Kim, and Aron Eisenberg. He then voiced a trio of characters in the 2000 CGI-animated film Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists, along with John Rhys-Davies. After voicing the role of the King of Atlantis in Walt Disney's 2001 film Atlantis: The Lost Empire (along with Phil Morris and David Ogden Stiers), Nimoy announced his retirement from acting, deciding instead to focus on photography.

Despite his retirement, Nimoy made appearances with William Shatner in several commercials for in 2005 and 2006. Also in 2006, Nimoy did commercials for the arthritis pain medication, Aleve, in which Nimoy was concerned that his arthritis would prevent him from delivering the Vulcan salute to his fans at a convention.

Nimoy and Quinto

Nimoy with Zachary Quinto at the Comic-Con International (2007)

In 2007, it was announced that Nimoy would come out of retirement to play Spock in the 2009 Star Trek feature being produced and directed by J.J. Abrams. When proclaiming his reasons for accepting the role, he stated it was because the film has "a great director" (Abrams), "a wonderful actor playing the young Spock" (Zachary Quinto), and "a fabulous script" (written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman). He summed up his decision by stating "it was logical." [3]

In a July 2007 interview with Anthony Pascale of, Nimoy gave three reasons for coming out of retirement to play Spock for the new film. His first reason was that it was Star Trek and that he owed it to the franchise to give his attention to the project. The second reason was his admiration for producer/director J.J. Abrams, and the third was that Spock had an "essential" and "interesting" role in the script. [4]

Production on Star Trek began on 7 November 2007. Nimoy began filming his scenes the following month. Shooting wrapped in March 2008. Nimoy can be heard reciting the famous line "Space... the final frontier" in the teaser trailer for the new Star Trek film, which debuted 18 January 2008. According to the film's co-writer, Roberto Orci, the line is a new recording which Nimoy made on the film's set in-between takes. [5]

Following his work on Star Trek completed, Nimoy began appearing on Fringe, the science fiction television series created and produced by three members of Star Trek's creative team: J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci. On the show, Nimoy plays the recurring role of the enigmatic founder of Massive Dynamics, William Bell, a character which had previously been referenced but never seen. Nimoy voiced the role for the episode "Bad Dreams," which was written and directed by Akiva Goldsman and made his first on-camera appearance in the first season finale aired 12 May 2009. Nimoy returned for an extended arc that fall. Fringe was Nimoy's first foray into episodic television since appearing on Becker in 2001.

For his role on Fringe, Nimoy received a Saturn Award nomination for Best Guest Starring Role on Television in 2010. Fellow Trek actors Michelle Forbes and Raymond Cruz are also nominated in this category. [6]

On 19 April 2010, Nimoy announced his decision to again retire from acting. In explaining his decision to The Toronto Star, Nimoy stated, "I've been doing this professionally for 60 years. I love the idea of going out on a positive note. I've had a great, great time." He also said he would not appear in the next Star Trek film, claiming it would be unfair to Zachary Quinto, the actor currently portraying Spock. Nimoy recently filmed what he said would be his final appearance on the FOX series Fringe (created by Abrams with Star Trek scribes Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci). [7]

He also confirmed that in 2010, he would portray the voice of the main antagonist, Master Xehanort, in Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep.

On 22 October 2010 it was announced that due to a personal family emergency Nimoy would not be attending that day's Star Trek convention in Chicago. Later it was revealed that he was in the hospital.

On 26 May 2011 the new music video from Bruno Mars titled The Lazy Song was released. The video features Nimoy in a leading role and the second time he broke his "retirement". In the music video Nimoy is making several Trek jokes including the William Shatner on television scene and his "Vulcan salute" posing in front of the mirror. Nimoy explained his recent acting work in an email to TrekMovie: The Atlantic Records Executive who signed Bruno Mars on to this label is the son of his wife Susan Bay, Aaron Bay-Schuck. [8]

Nimoy returned to the Transformers franchise in 2011 when he lent his voice to the duplicitous Sentinel Prime in the third live action film Dark of the Moon working with Jack Axelrod, George Coe, Michael Dorn, Robert Foxworth, Glenn Morshower, Keith Szarabajka, Tom Virtue and Frank Welker. Foxworth, Morshower, and Welker all acted in the entire trilogy.

On 20 July 2011, Nimoy made it official that we will retire from convention appearances after two more official Star Trek conventions, held by Creation Entertainment. These include the Las Vegas convention on August 11-14, 2011 and in Chicago on September 30-October 2, as well as the Dragon Con in Atlanta, Georgia. Nimoy agreed to return to Chicago after having to cancel the previous year. [9]

In 2012, Nimoy once again reprised the role of Spock in The Big Bang Theory episode "The Transporter Malfunction", this time voicing a vintage Spock action figure who acts as Sheldon Cooper's conscience in his dreams.


Nimoy appeared as Spock in:

Additional appearances

Directing credits

Writing credits


Star Trek interviews

  • "Leonard Nimoy - Spock on the Next Generation", The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 17, pp. 14-15, interviewed by Marc Shapiro
  • "Leonard Nimoy - Ambassador Spock", The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 18, pp. 48-49, interviewed by Marc Shapiro

Music discography

Albums (vinyl LPs)
  • Mr. Spock's Music from Outer Space (Dot Records, 1967)
  • Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy (Dot Records, 1968)
  • The Way I Feel (Dot Records, 1968)
  • The Touch of Leonard Nimoy (Dot Records, 1969)
  • The New World of Leonard Nimoy (Dot Records, 1970)
Reissued LPs
  • Leonard Nimoy: Space Odyssey (Pickwick Records, US, 1972)
  • Mr. Spock Presents Music From Outer Space (Rediffusion Records, UK, 1973)
  • Outer Space / Inner Mind (Famous Twinsets/Paramount Records, US, 1974)
  • Leonard Nimoy (Sears Records, US, 1988)
Spoken word LPs
  • The Martian Chronicles (Caedmon Records, 1976)
  • Illustrated Man (Caedmon Records, 1977)
  • War of the Worlds (Caedmon Records, 1977)
  • Green Hills of Earth (Caedmon Records, 1977)
  • The Mysterious Golem (JRT Records, 1982)
Singles (45s)
  • The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins / Cotton Candy (Dot Records, 1967)
  • Theme From Star Trek / Visit To A Sad Planet (Dot Records, 1967)
  • I'd Love Making Love To You / Please Don't Try to Change My Mind (Dot Records, 1968)
  • Consilium / Here We Go 'Round Again (Dot Records, 1968)
  • The Sun Will Rise / Time to Get It Together (Dot Records, 1969)
  • Outer Space / Inner Mind (Paramount Records, 1970)
  • Leonard Nimoy / Micro-Cassette (Dot Records, release date unknown)
  • You Are Not Alone (MCA Records, 1987)
  • Highly Illogical (Rev-Ola Records, UK, 1993)
  • Leonard Nimoy Presents: Mr. Spock's Music From Outer Space (Varése Sarabande, US, 1995)
  • Spaced Out: The Very Best of Leonard Nimoy & William Shatner (Universal Music/Phantom, UK, 1997)
  • Golden Throats: The Great Celebrity Sing Off (Rhino Records, US, 1988, LP; 1992, CD)
  • Golden Throats 2: More Celebrity Rock Oddities (Rhino Records, US, 1991)
  • Golden Throats 3: Sweet Hearts of Rodeo Drive (Rhino Records, US, 1995)
  • Spaced Out: The Very Best of Leonard Nimoy & William Shatner (Universal Music/Space, Canada, 1997)
  • Dr. Demento's 30th Anniversary Collection (Rhino Records, US, 2000)
  • Dr. Demento's Hits From Outer Space (Rhino Records, US, 2002)

See also

External links

Previous Director:
Nicholas Meyer
Star Trek films director
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock;
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Next Director:
William Shatner

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