Greetings. Today we go In Search Of...the career that is the legendary Leonard Nimoy.
Welcome reader to my tribute to THE Mr. Spock, Mr. Leonard Nimoy. Recently, Mr. Nimoy announced his retirement for acting thus ending his forty-five year tenure as THE Mr. Spock. It truly breaks my heart. He breathed life into the one of the most iconic characters in t.v. and science fiction. Not only that, he is an accomplished writer, artist, director, singer...the list goes on.
And now this...
Leonard Nimoy is a film director, poet, musician, and photographer. Nimoy's fame rests on his playing the role of Spock in the original Star Trek series 1966-1969, as well as reprising the role in various movie and television sequels. He wrote two autobiographies, I Am Not Spock (1975) and I Am Spock (1995).
He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Yiddish-speaking Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Iziaslav, Ukraine. His father, Max Nimoy, owned a barbershop. His mother, Dora Nimoy (née Spinner), was a homemaker. Nimoy began acting at the age of eight. His first major role was Ralphie in Clifford Odets' Awake and Sing, at 17. He studied photography at the University of California, Los Angeles and took Drama classes at Boston College in 1953 but he failed to complete his studies. He has an MA in Education and an honorary doctorate from Antioch University in Ohio. Nimoy also served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army from 1953 through 1955.
Nimoy's film and television acting career began in 1951. But after receiving the title role in the 1952 film Kid Monk Baroni, a story about a street punk turned professional boxer, he spent most of the rest of his early career playing small parts in B movies, TV shows such as Dragnet, and serials such as Republic Pictures' Zombies of the Stratosphere (1952). This included more than fifty movies or television shows. He played an Army sergeant in the 1954 Sci Fi thriller, "THEM!", and had a role in The Balcony (1963), a film adaptation of the Jean Genet play.
On television Nimoy appeared as Sonarman in two episodes of the 1957–1958 syndicated military drama, The Silent Service, based on actual events of the submarine section of the United States Navy. He had guest roles in the Sea Hunt series from 1958 to 1960 and had a minor role in The Twilight Zone episode "A Quality of Mercy" in 1961. Throughout the 1960s Nimoy appeared in a number of other TV series including Bonanza (1960), Two Faces West (1961), The Untouchables (1962), The Eleventh Hour (1962), Combat! (1963, 1965), Perry Mason (1963), The Outer Limits (1964), and Get Smart (1966). He appeared again in the 1995 Outer Limits, again in the episode 'I, Robot'.
Nimoy and William Shatner first worked together in an episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Project Strigas Affair (1964). Their characters were from either side of the Iron Curtain, though with his saturnine looks, Nimoy was predictably the villain, with Shatner playing a reluctant U.N.C.L.E. recruit.Nimoy's greatest prominence came from his role in the original Star Trek series, as the half-Vulcan, half-human Spock. Nimoy formed a long-standing friendship with Shatner, who portrayed his commanding officer. The series ran from 1966 to 1969, and Nimoy earned three Emmy acting nominations for his work.
He went on to reprise Spock's character in a voice-over role in Star Trek: The Animated Series, in two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and in six Star Trek motion pictures featuring the original cast. He played an older Spock in the 2009 Star Trek movie directed by J. J. Abrams.
Following the cancellation of the original Star Trek, Nimoy immediately joined the cast of the spy series Mission: Impossible, which was seeking a replacement for Martin Landau. Nimoy was cast as an IMF agent who was an ex-magician and make-up expert, 'The Amazing Paris'. He played the role from 1969 to 1971, on the fourth and fifth seasons of the show.
He co-starred with Yul Brynner and Richard Crenna in the Western movie Catlow (1971). Nimoy appeared in various made for television films such as Assault on the Wayne (1970), Baffled (1972), The Alpha Caper (1973), The Missing Are Deadly (1974), Seizure: The Story Of Kathy Morris (1980), and Marco Polo (1982). He received an Emmy award nomination for best supporting actor for the TV film A Woman Called Golda (1982). He also had roles in Night Gallery (1972) and Columbo (1973) where he played a murderous doctor who was one of the few criminals to whom Columbo became angry.
In the late 1970s, he hosted and narrated the television series In Search of..., which investigated paranormal or unexplained events or subjects. He also has a memorable character part as a psychiatrist in Philip Kaufman's remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
It was during this time that Nimoy won acclaim for a series of stage roles as well. He appeared in such plays as Vincent, Fiddler on the Roof, The Man in the Glass Booth, Oliver!, Six Rms Riv Vu, Full Circle, Camelot, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The King And I, Caligula, The Four Poster, Twelfth Night, Sherlock Holmes, Equus and My Fair Lady.
From there,when a new Star Trek series was planned in the late 1970s, Nimoy was to be in only two out of every eleven episodes, but when the show was elevated to a feature film, he agreed to reprise his role. After directing a few television show episodes, Nimoy started film directing in 1984 with the third installment of the film series. Nimoy would go on to direct the second most successful film (critically and financially) in the franchise to date after the 2009 Star Trek film, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) and move beyond the Trek universe with Three Men and a Baby, the highest grossing film of 1987.
Nimoy has written two autobiographies. The first was called I Am Not Spock (1977) and was controversial, as many fans incorrectly assumed that Nimoy was distancing himself from the Spock character. In the book, Nimoy conducts dialogues between himself and Spock. The contents of this first autobiography also touched on a self-proclaimed "identity crisis" that seemed to haunt Nimoy throughout his career. It also related to an apparent love/hate relationship with the character of Spock and the Trek franchise.
His second autobiography was I Am Spock (1995), communicating that he finally realized his years of portraying the Spock character had led to a much greater identification between the fictional character and himself. Nimoy had much input into how Spock would act in certain situations, and conversely, Nimoy's contemplation of how Spock acted gave him cause to think about things in a way that he never would have thought if he had not portrayed the character. As such, in this autobiography Nimoy maintains that in some meaningful sense he has merged with Spock while at the same time maintaining the distance between fact and fiction.
During and following Star Trek, Nimoy also released five albums of vocal recordings on Dot Records including Trek-related songs such as "Highly Illogical", and cover versions of popular tunes, such as "Proud Mary". In regards to how his recording career got started, he stated:
The albums were popular and resulted in numerous live appearances and promotional record signings that attracted crowds of fans in the thousands. The early recordings were produced by Charles Grean, who may be best known for his version of "Quentin's Theme" from the mid-sixties goth soap opera Dark Shadows. These recordings are generally regarded as unintentionally camp, though his tongue-in-cheek performance of "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" received a fair amount of airplay when Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings films were released.
In addition to his own music career he directed a 1985 music video for The Bangles' "Going Down to Liverpool". He makes a brief cameo appearance in the video as their driver. This came about because his son Adam Nimoy (now a frequent television director) was a friend of Bangles lead singer Susanna Hoffs from college. He released a version of Johnny Cash's song "I Walk the Line".
Nimoy's voice appeared in sampled form on a song by the pop band Information Society in the late Eighties. The song, "What's On Your Mind? (Pure Energy)" (released in 1988), reached #3 on the US Pop charts, and #1 on Dance charts. The group's self-titled LP contains several other samples from the original Star Trek television series.
In May 2009, he made an appearance as the mysterious Dr. William Bell in the season finale of Fringe, which explore the existence of a parallel universe. Nimoy returned as Dr. Bell in the fall for an extended arc, and according to Roberto Orci, co-creator of Fringe, Bell will be "the beginning of the answers to even bigger questions. This choice led one reviewer to question if Fringe's plot might be a homage to the Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror", which featured an alternate reality "Mirror Universe" concept and an evil version of Spock distinguished by a goatee.
On the May 9, 2009 episode of Saturday Night Live, Nimoy appeared as a surprise guest on the skit "Weekend Update". During a mock interview, Nimoy called old Trekkies who did not like the new movie "dickheads". In the 2009 Star Trek movie, he plays Spock of the future (Zachary Quinto meanwhile, portrays the younger Spock).
In April 2010, Nimoy announced plans to retire from acting after 60 years in the movie business, citing both his advanced age and giving Quinto the opportunity to enjoy full media attention with the Spock character.
We'll be back
I recently watched a couple of Star TreK:TOS episodes featuring Spock as the main focal point.
The Menagerie is the only two-part episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. On stardate 3012.4, the USS Enterprise diverts to Starbase 11 when Mr. Spock receives a subspace call from the former captain of the Enterprise, Christopher Pike (under whom Spock served for 11 years, and since promoted to Fleet Captain). When the ship arrives, the commander of the starbase, Commodore Mendez (the first appearance of a rank higher than Captain in the series), states that communication with Pike is impossible, since he has been severely burned and paralyzed by exposure to delta rays during a maintenance accident aboard a J-class training vessel. He couldn't have possibly sent the message. In fact, it is revealed that Pike is confined to a wheelchair operated by brainwaves. He cannot speak, and only communicates with a flashing light: one flash means "yes", two flashes mean "no".
Pike is at the station, and refuses to talk to either Captain Kirk or Dr. McCoy and only allows his old friend and former officer, Mr. Spock, to talk with him in private. Spock partially explains his appearance by indicating his intention to take Captain Pike against Starfleet regulations.
Back in Mendez's office, Kirk discovers that the communication logs reveal that Spock had not received any messages from Pike at all, and can't understand his deception. Spock sneaks into the station's computer center, nerve-pinches the technician, and proceeds to override the computer system, sending the Enterprise fake orders to go to the quarantined planet, Talos IV. He informs the navigation chief on the bridge that the navigation data will automatically pilot the ship. He overrides the voice authorization protocols with bogus recordings of Kirk's voice. The bewildered navigator accepts the strange authorization and Spock uploads the data. Meanwhile, another station technician enters the computer room and confronts Spock, but Spock easily subdues him with another nerve pinch.
Dr. McCoy is tricked into returning to the Enterprise by a request for medical assistance, after which Mendez shows Kirk a secret file on the fate of Talos IV. The file contains minimal background information on an earlier mission to Talos IV, not even explaining why unauthorized passage to Talos is grounds for the death penalty under Starfleet General Order 7. Spock then transports himself and the disabled Captain Pike aboard. By the time a duty nurse notices Pike is missing, the Enterprise has left orbit about Starbase 11 and warped away to Talos IV.
Kirk and Commodore Mendez head out and follow the Enterprise with a starbase shuttlecraft. Spock detects the pursuing craft, which is rapidly exhausting its fuel reserves just to keep up, and surrenders himself to the Enterprise crew for arrest, confessing that he mutinied and that he never received command orders. The Vulcan is taken away. Commander Scott beams Captain Kirk and Commodore Mendez aboard. They demand that the system's computer explain Spock's actions and return control of the ship to the navigator. The computer informs them that any attempt to override the navigation computer will disable ship's life support, and that the system cannot disengage until the Enterprise has reached Talos.
Commodore Mendez orders a preliminary hearing on Spock, who requests immediate court martial, which requires a tribunal board of three command officers. Spock points out there are three already there – Kirk, Mendez, and Pike, who is still listed as being on "active duty". Spock begins showing video footage of the recorded events that took place during "The Cage" to explain how this "story" begins.
The video recounts how 13 years earlier the Enterprise, commanded by Captain Pike, received a weak distress signal from the SS Columbia, a survey ship reported lost 18 years earlier. The Columbia reportedly crash-landed on Talos IV.
A landing party beams down and a few remaining survivors are found, including a young woman, Vina, who was born shortly before the Columbia's crash, and whose parents had died. Pike immediately takes an interest in her. Unknown to Pike and the others, they are being monitored by the planet's native inhabitants, the Talosians, who can create very realistic illusions and wish to study the humans that have come to their planet.
Dr. Boyce, Pike's chief medical officer, monitors the survivors but finds them in remarkable health, far better off than he expected and becomes suspicious that something isn't right. Before he can inform his Captain, Pike is lured away into a Talosian trap by Vina. Pike disappears behind a stone door and the survivors all disappear, having been only illusions.
The trial continues at Kirk's request, even though Starfleet has denied the Enterprise further access to the Talosian transmission. The recordings show Pike in a cage, and he learns that the Talosians wish for him and Vina to mate and produce offspring so that the Talosian captors can rebuild their destroyed civilization. Aboveground, Pike's crew frantically try to rescue him, but cannot get past the first hurdle, a door which not even the ship's weapons can penetrate. A larger problem is that the crew cannot trust their own senses, as the Talosians are capable of casting illusions on the planet's surface as well as underground. An attempt by the crew to force open the entrance where Pike was taken with a heavy phaser cannon was apparently unsuccessful. In reality, it managed to cut open the entrance, but the Talosians' illusions completely hid that reality from them.
The aliens send Pike through numerous virtual realities with Vina, hoping that the settings will move his interest with the girl into passionate love for her, and the two will copulate. Pike, however, resists their mind games and demands to be set free. The Talosians threaten him with traumatizing illusions to punish him, inflicting a few agonizing seconds of an illusion of Hell on him to make their point. The Enterprise attempts to beam a landing party directly into the Talosians' underground network in order to rescue Pike. The Talosians, aware of this raid, manipulate the transport operators so that only female crew members beam into the cage thus providing Pike with a wider choice of 'mates'. Furthermore, the new captives' fully charged phasers are seemingly rendered inert, thus precluding the option of shooting their way out.
That night Pike captures a Talosian attempting to confiscate the guns while the captives sleep. Pike tells his new prisoner that he believes that the phasers had successfully burned through the cage wall but the results were hidden by illusion. Pike threatens to test out the theory by shooting the Talosian unless the phaser damage is revealed. The Talosian complies and reveals the large hole in the transparent cage wall, and the humans escape. Upon reaching the surface, however, the Talosian reveals that they were allowed to escape so as to settle the new slave colony on the planet's surface.
In reaction, Number One sets her phaser on overload to kill all of them instead of being enslaved. She is persuaded to deactivate her weapon when more Talosians arrive with the results of their scan of the Enterprise's records and reveal that humans are far too dangerous and violent for their needs — the humans are free to go. When Pike complains that they are getting away with kidnapping and threatening himself and his crew, the Talosians explain that if their captives wanted revenge, they should realize that they were the last hope for the survival of the Talosian species, which is now doomed by their resistance. Concerned at their plight, Pike suggests that the Talosians open up diplomatic relations so the Federation can render assistance, but the Talosians decline explaining that would mean that Pike's people would learn their illusion casting power and doom themselves as well.
Number One and Yeoman Colt are beamed back to the ship, while the Talosians hold Pike for just a few moments longer. Vina is revealed to be hideously deformed, the results of the injuries she sustained in the crash of the Columbia and her beauty was only maintained by a Talosian illusion. As Pike leaves he requests her illusion be restored. After the Keeper replies "and more" Vina is immediately transformed back to health. Pike leaves, satisfied that Vina is happy to live on Talos with an illusion of beauty. Suddenly the video transmission ends and Kirk understands what Spock has been planning. Pike, now disfigured and disabled, can be "revived" by the Talosians' power.
To Kirk's surprise, Commodore Mendez suddenly disappears, having been a Talosian illusion, created so he could force Kirk to watch Pike's story, and delay regaining control of the ship and diverting away from Talos IV. Starfleet Command, which has been watching the trial footage from Starbase 11 and satisfied by the explanation, gives Kirk official permission to finish the journey to Talos IV and beam Captain Pike to the planet as a matter of recognition for his illustrious years of service.
Spock is cleared of all charges against him. Kirk demands to know why Spock did not tell him what he was planning so he could help. Spock explains that doing so would have put the captain at risk of execution himself as an accessory while Spock was confident that he could manage on his own. Kirk expresses concern about Spock's mental state, but the Vulcan maintains that he has been "logical about the whole affair". Spock sees Pike out, and once Pike is beamed to Talos, the Talosians return the former captain to his normal state (via illusion). Pike is reunited with Vina. The Talosians' final message to Kirk is "Captain Pike has an illusion, and you have reality. May you find your way as pleasant." The Enterprise then leaves Talos and returns to Starfleet.
This is the first we truly see Mr. Spock as the strong character he would become in future episodes and, of course, in the movies.
Spock requests a leave of absence to his home planet of Vulcan after displaying irrational behavior. Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy witness one of Spock's outbursts, and McCoy agrees Spock needs some "time off."
Kirk is baffled by Spock's behavior, but diverts the Enterprise to Vulcan. Soon however, Kirk receives a priority signal with orders to proceed to Altair VI to represent the Federation at an inauguration ceremony for the planet's new president. Kirk tells Spock his leave will have to be delayed, but Spock secretly has the ship rerouted to Vulcan.
Kirk confronts Spock, who says he has no memory of changing the order. Kirk orders him to report to Sickbay. Dr. McCoy discovers Spock's blood chemistry is extremely active and has the presence of unknown hormones. If the condition persists, Spock will die in eight days. Spock does not wish to discuss what is currently affecting him, but Kirk demands an explanation.
Seemingly embarrassed, Spock informs Kirk that his condition is called Pon farr, a syndrome that all Vulcan males painfully endure periodically throughout their adult life. (In the episode "The Cloud Minders" Spock claims that the cycle occurs every seven years, although he does not state which planet's years he's referring to). During this time, they must mate or die. He cites precedents in nature, such as Earth salmon, which "must return to that one stream where they were born, to spawn...or die trying".
Kirk contacts Admiral Komack at Starfleet and requests permission to divert to Vulcan. The admiral denies permission, but Kirk ignores the order, arguing there are already two other starships attending the inauguration.
The Enterprise arrives at Vulcan, and Spock invites Kirk and Dr. McCoy to accompany him. Spock explains that Vulcans are married as children ("less than marriage, more than a betrothal") with the understanding that they will fulfill this commitment when they become adults. His bride T'Pring, who was betrothed to him at the age of 7 (played by the child Mary Elizabeth Rice in a view screen Spock crushed), awaits him.
T'Pau, a highly respected member of Vulcan society, and best known as the only person to ever turn down a seat in the Federation Council, arrives to conduct the ceremony. T'Pring arrives accompanied by Stonn, a pure-blooded Vulcan, who is obviously her lover. She invokes kal-if-fee, her right to a physical challenge between Spock and Stonn, but instead of Stonn, she picks Kirk to be her champion. Spock asks that T'Pau forbid it because Kirk "does not understand, he does not know," but T'Pau allows Kirk to decide, telling him another champion will be selected if he declines. Kirk accepts the challenge thinking he can let Spock win — and only then discovers that the fight is to the death.
Despite Spock's condition, he displays superior strength and agility, demonstrating his expertise with the Lirpa, a traditional (and deadly) Vulcan weapon. Kirk is weakened by Vulcan's heat and thinner atmosphere (and, though it is not mentioned in the series proper, the higher gravity). McCoy objects, telling T'Pau that Kirk is seriously disadvantaged, and suggests he inject Kirk with a tri-ox compound to compensate. T'Pau allows the injection. The combat continues and Spock garrotes Kirk with another traditional Vulcan weapon, the Ahn'woon, at which point McCoy pronounces the Captain dead and has his body beamed back to the Enterprise.
With the battle over, Spock gives up his claim on T'Pring but questions her choice of Kirk as her champion. In a display of logic that impresses Spock, T'Pring explains that she "did not wish to be the consort of a legend," and developed a mutual attraction with Stonn. Since she could only legally divorce Spock through the kal-if-fee, and allowing Stonn to take the challenge as her champion would risk losing him, she instead chose Kirk, knowing that regardless of the outcome she and Stonn would be together - as Kirk would not want her and Spock would probably release her. Even if Spock held her to her vows, he would return to Starfleet, "and Stonn would still be here."
On the ship, Spock announces his intention to resign his commission and submit himself to Starfleet, to face the consequences for killing Kirk. However, he finds his Captain alive and well, and expresses overt joy in front of McCoy and Chapel. McCoy and Kirk then explain that McCoy actually injected the Captain with a neuroparalyzer drug that simulated death but merely knocked him out. Spock says that when he thought he had killed the Captain, he lost all desire for T'Pring. Furthermore, Kirk is let off the hook for disobeying orders when Starfleet retroactively grants permission to divert to Vulcan at T'Pau's request. Spock unconvincingly denies having expressed undue emotion at seeing Kirk alive. McCoy is disgusted by this, and Kirk and Spock leave Sickbay without further illogical displays.
Without question, the best of the Spock-centric episodes. You learn so much about Vulcan culture and this episode gave weight and depth, I felt to the series that previous episodes didn't.
I know Mr. Nimoy you will probably not read this but I would like to say THANK YOU for all you have done in your career. You made aliens cool, if not human.
2016 - A Vicious Teacher
3 months ago