Leonard Nimoy, Leonard Nimoy turns 82 years old today, just four days after his close friend William Shatner (Kirk to Nimoy’s Spock) hit that same age. Nimoy was a busy character actor before “Star Trek” and did many interesting things as both an actor and a director after “Star Trek,” but his legacy as a public figure rests on his conception and portrayal of Spock for three years on TV and in a half-dozen big-screen movies.
Half-Vulcan and half-human, Spock is largely emotionless and operates on a level of pure logic, serving as a counterpart to Shatner’s more combustible Captain James T. Kirk. It was Nimoy himself who came up with the concept of the Vulcan Nerve Pinch, since he believed it would be out of character for Spock to punch or chop an enemy combatant.
In “Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan,” Spock dies of radiation poisoning, but in subsequent films his katra is returned to his body. In the 2009 “Star Trek” prologue film, he played Spock Prime in a memorable scene with Zachary Quinto, who had been cast to play the younger version of the Spock character from the original TV series.
Nimoy’s two memoirs were titled “I Am Not Spock” (in which he struggled to explain his own independent identity) and “I Am Spock” (in which he reconciles that his iconic character had a great infuence on his own personality).
The Spock character has been central to several of the best scenes in the hit sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” including Sheldon’s Christmas gift and the new and improved alternative to “rock-paper-scissors.”