Hollywood pays tribute to Mr Spock

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Published: Saturday 28th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Tributes have been paid from Hollywood to Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played the instantly recognisable Mr Spock in Star Trek, who has died at the age of 83.

Nimoy’s son Adam confirmed his father died at his Los Angeles home on Friday as a result of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Just days ago the actor, director and poet, adored by Trekkies worldwide, posted a final message on social media reading: “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.”

He signed off the message on his Twitter account with “LLAP”, or “live long and prosper” – the catchphrase which became synonymous with his stoic half-human, half-Vulcan on-screen character.

While Nimoy will always be best known for his portrayal of the sharp-eared Mr Spock, he was also a successful stage actor, writer and film director.

He lent his trademark deep baritone voice to a CGI robot giant in Michael Bay’s Transformers movie series.

Nimoy was also never precious about sending up the usually po-faced Mr Spock, voice-acting occasional appearances both as himself and the character in popular cartoon series The Simpsons and Futurama.

So strong was the public’s immediate association of Nimoy with the character, he entitled his two-volume autobiography I Am Not Spock – in 1975 – and I Am Spock 20 years later.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1931 to Jewish immigrant parents, he cut his acting teeth in community theatre and made his Hollywood debut aged 20 with a bit-part in the 1951 film Queen For Day.

He served for a short time in the US Army, and had small parts in features such as 1954’s atomic monster movie Them!

But it was in 1965 he was first cast as the alien science officer Mr Spock in a Star Trek pilot, entitled The Cage.

Nimoy was the only main cast member to be signed up for the series’ full run, airing in 1966.

The sci-fi drama, set in space, charted the voyages of the crew of the starship USS Enterprise, with the logic-driven science officer Spock often having to rein in the more emotional Captain Kirk.

With his pointed ears, arched eyebrows and basin-like haircut – not to mention the Vulcan nerve pinch, used to pacify a host of alien nasties – Mr Spock became the series’ most well-known character.

Capturing the mood of a country in the midst of a real-world Cold War space race, the programme’s three-series run earned a dedicated following earning Nimoy consecutive Emmy nominations, before its cancellation in 1969.

It was during that time he began recording a series of music albums, featuring songs including 1967’s The Ballad Of Bilbo Baggins.

With the success of Star Wars in 1977, the memorable series was resurrected along with the character for which Nimoy was becoming synonymous, only this time as a full-blown feature-length Hollywood movie.

Nimoy, along with the original cast, reprised his role, eventually starring in eight feature films, including 1982’s Star Trek: The Wrath Of Khan in which his character was killed off.

However, Mr Spock was resurrected for the next movie, 1984’s Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, this time with Nimoy as director.

He returned to the director’s chair in what would prove to be the most commercially successful film in the franchise before its 2009 reboot, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

In 1987, Nimoy showed his mettle outside of sci-fi, directing the commercially successful comedy Three Men And A Baby, starring Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg and Ted Danson.

Back in front of the camera, Nimoy more recently starred in the JJ Abrams directed Star Trek films – lastly in 2013 – opposite Zachary Quinto, who played a younger Spock.

Leading tributes from Hollywood last night was William Shatner, who starred opposite Nimoy as Captain James T Kirk in the sci-fi TV series role that would go on to make both men recognisable to millions around the world.

Shatner told his two million followers on Twitter: “I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humour, his talent, and his capacity to love.”

It was reported Nimoy had been in hospital earlier this week after complaining of chest pains.

His granddaughter Dani paid tribute to “an extraordinary man, husband, grandfather, brother, actor, author – the list goes on – and friend”.

She added: “Thank you for the warm condolences. May you all LLAP.”

On hearing news of the death, Quinto posted on social media “my heart is broken – I love you profoundly my dear friend”.

George Takei, who played Mr Sulu in the original Star Trek series, said: “Today, the world lost a great man, and I lost a great friend.

“We return you now to the stars, Leonard.

“You taught us to ‘Live Long And Prosper’ and you indeed did, friend.

“I shall miss you in so many, many ways.”

Nimoy received four Emmy nominations during his career, including one for his 1982 performance in A Woman Called Golda.

He was twice married, first to Sandi Nimoy, and latterly to Susan Bay and is survived by two children from his first marriage.

Published: Saturday 28th February 2015 by The News Editor

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