Happy Trails: Leonard Nimoy, 1931 – 2015

spock chair

Are you sitting down? Sit down. Are you wearing a hat? Take it off. Do you have a catheter? Plug it in.

Leonard Nimoy, whom most of you probably know best from the original (O.G.) 1960’s Star Trek, passed away this morning. He was 83. He had been hospitalized for the last couple days with chest pains related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Don’t smoke, kids.

Writing this post is really quite a strange, detached kind of feeling, for despite seeing the news earlier this week of his hospitalization and therefore being kinda-sorta-almost steeled towards this possibility, it never really felt like the kind of thing that could actually happen. I’ve been watching this guy on and off basically my entire life. That should’ve made the guy immortal. Y’know? He should be running on a beach somewhere with Sean Connery as we speak.

young leonard nimoy
Mr. Nimoy as an impossibly young man

Nimoy had a long and storied career before and after Star Trek. From the scratchy black-and-white westerns that seemingly everyone on the original Trek cast appeared in at one point or another, to the pointed ears that made him a household name, to authoring books in rebellion against (and later in acceptance of) the role that made him most famous, and standout roles on shows like Fringe.

Then there was all the stuff I’m sure he’d rather forget. The Bilbo Baggins song is one such example, part of an album produced during a period in the entertainment business when just about everyone was contractually obligated to moonlight as a singer regardless of interest or skill. Mr. Nimoy was arguably more successful at it than than Shatner at least. Common People notwithstanding.

leonard nimoy sideburns
You wish you could rock sideburns like these.

Better oddities include guest spots as himself on both The Simpsons and Futurama, and more than a few voice credits in video games, such as the modern classic Civilization IV, where he reads quotes ranging from the wisdom of Aristophanes to Sputnik’s beeps, and lesser-known games like Yoot Saito’s bizarre Sega Dreamcast curiosity Seaman. Apparently he was even in a recent Kingdom Hearts game, which wrinkles my brain in ways I never thought imaginable.

His final appearance was a brief return to Spock in 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, and while the film may not have lit the world aflame, his presence was never not welcome. And if some neckbearded Trekkie says anything to the contrary I will fight them against a reddish-purple backdrop to the music from Amok Time. And that’s no lie.

If you’d like some weekend homework, try the aforementioned Amok Time, plus other Spock highlight reel episodes from the original series such as The Galileo Seven. For an experience at the opposite end of the quality spectrum, grab a bottle of gin with some green food colouring and brace yourself for Spock’s Brain. The movies might hit too close to home right now, but Wrath of Khan, Search for Spock, and Voyage Home are all great for the character. Cap your evening off with the Unification two-parter from The Next Generation if you’re in the mood for something more modern. All are available on Netflix and probably those clicky-clacky “library tapes.”

It’s going to be weird for a while going into this new, post-Nimoy world. If you’re feeling just as uneasy, take solace in the fact that he’s only the third actor from the original Star Trek’s regular cast to pass away so far. (Contrast that statistic with fellow television sci-fi staple Babylon 5, which has lost more actors in 20 years than Star Trek has in 50.) It would be difficult to live a life longer and more illustrious than Leonard Nimoy did and his impact was considerable for a “mere” actor and entertainer, which ensures that in some small way, maybe he really is immortal.

wrath of khan gif

A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP