For people of my age, we were introduced to science fiction by the Starship Enterprise that ungrammatically headed out to do strange things and meet stranger things in our wide universe. The arrogant James T. Kirk, played straight by William Shatner who didn’t show his comedy licks for years, befriended the half human-half Vulcan Mr. Spock, played by the man I mourn today, Leonard Nimoy, with panache and elegance. It was one of the unifying elements of my first year in college that we all knew these men, and wished they had stayed a little longer.
We were rewarded in later years by full-length movies that were alternately awful but campy, or funny, or inspiring. To see our Mr. Spock reborn on the Genesis planet after we saw him sacrifice himself for the good of the many in nuclear hell was to be reborn ourselves in the wonder of the universe. Leonard Nimoy wanted to leave behind this character who was forever part of our lexicon of youth, and we didn’t let him go. He showed up on Star Trek the Next Generation as well as the movies when we resisted his departure. The fact that he was supporting a rebellion on TNG was only in keeping with the growing image of him as a man for all seasons. Few actors could have kept the difficult job of being Mr. Spock going for more than a few seasons, let alone a lifetime.
And yes, we conflated Leonard Nimoy and the character he created onscreen. It was unfair to him, for which I apologize. But his continuing advocacy for a more scientifically literate society did not fall on deaf ears. Many young fans flocked to the hard sciences because of his work, and for that we should be thankful. We should also be thankful for the many hours of enjoyment he gave and continues to give as the inimitable Mr. Spock.
Live long and prosper.