Leonard Nimoy, one of Star Trek’s most memorable actors, turned 80 years old today, and no, he is not 129 like his most famous personage, Spock, the half-human, half-Vulcan science officer from Star Trek: The Original Series for which Mr. Nimoy is famous. Aside from his well-known portrayal of Captain Kirk’s Number One, he has been involved in many projects of his own creation, some of which, to this day, remain underrated and under-celebrated. Throughout his life, for example, Nimoy immersed himself in a diverse array of acting roles on stage and screen; recorded and performed several musical albums, and produced photographic works of art showcased in exhibits throughout Massachusetts. He was also the director of successful motion pictures and authored two autobiographies and even penned a collection of poetry; such creative resourcefulness is the trademark of an exceptionally talented and brilliant artist.
His acting career in science fiction started with his role as Narab, a Martian invader in the 1952 sci-fi classic Zombies of the Stratosphere. He has since played minor roles in various TV series, such as Dragnet, The Outer Limits, and The Twilight Zone, but it was not until the year 1966 that Leonard Nimoy would star as a lead character in Star Trek, one that created a new breed of scientific personalities in popular science fiction and completely reshaped the genre. He is also known for his screen depiction of the ex-magician, Paris, in the spy drama television series Mission: Impossible and for his minor role as Dr. Kibner in the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
In appreciation of fantasy and science fiction genres, Mr. Nimoy wrote and recorded musical albums under a contract with Dot Records in the late 1960’s while simultaneously fulfilling acting roles in Star Trek and Mission: Impossible. His musical career, though short lived in comparison to his dedication to acting, included songs like Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Earth and Spock Thoughts. Nimoy even sang the popular The Ballad Of Bilbo Baggins, in dedication of J. R. R. Tolkein’s adventure novel The Hobbit; a music video of Leonard Nimoy’s The Ballad Of Bilbo Baggins was produced and can be found on YouTube with viewer counts as high as 1.6 million.
In 1999, Mr. Nimoy participated with John de Lancie, the actor who played the all-powerful Q in three Star Trek television series, to record their stage performance Spock vs. Q, a comedic dramatization of a philosophical and a hilariously frustrating conversation between the characters Spock and Q. It was followed with a sequel in 2000 in which Spock and Q would once again battle each other with wit, logic, and sheer godhood (on account of Q’s omnipotence). In addition to his on-stage performances, Mr. Nimoy also lent his voice for a role as King Nedakh in Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire and for narrations in computer games like the turn-based strategy Civilization IV and the epic MMORPG Star Trek Online.
Whether Leonard Nimoy fills the shoes of an actor, director, poet, musician, narrator, or even as a green-blooded science officer with sharp ears (excuse the pun) and an occasional wit, he is a wonderfully talented individual whose many accomplishments are our treasures.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Nimoy. And as always: live long and prosper.