Leonard Nimoy Boldly Goes, Will Be Remembered

At age 83, actor Leonard Nimoy has passed away, a few days after being taken to the hospital for chest pains. Nimoy most famously played Spock, the human-Vulcan science officer and first officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise on Star Trek: The Original Series.

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When Nimoy took on the role of Spock a little over 50 years ago, the world was a very different place. Nimoy — along with numerous others who worked on Star Trek — helped make it better. On i09, Charlie Jane Anders explained:

Before Spock came along, alien beings in mass media (and most written SF as well) were one-dimensional. They represented the “other,” the strange and unknowable beings who could only throw our human characters in relief. In the hands of most actors, Spock would have been a one-note joke character: the guy who spouts off formulas and equations in a monotone. Spock could easily have become the butt of Star Trek’s jokes, or just a weird side character.

But Nimoy imbued Spock with a life and complexity that were impossible to deny. Far from being a one-note character, Spock became one of the most complex and nuanced people on television. From his inner torment to his quiet amusement at the humans around him to his occasional flashes of anger, Spock was a constantly surprising mystery, with a lot of layers.

I’m deeply saddened by the loss of Nimoy, as are many others on the Autostraddle team. When Geekery Editor Ali heard the news, she said, “One feeling I had: that I had the weird urge to comfort and cry with Sheldon Cooper, even though he is a fictional character. Another feeling I had: He has boldly gone.”

Nimoy as Spock in the  J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek reboot, 2008.

Nimoy as Spock in J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek reboot, 2009.

My main feeling right now: I love Spock, and I love the way Nimoy portrayed him. (Especially opposite William Shatner as Captain Kirk; that “accidental” queerbaiting was pretty groundbreaking for its time.) Spock is a mixed race icon, and I have so much respect for Nimoy for bringing him into this world in such a dignified and relatable way.

For years, I’ve had a poster of Nimoy-as-Spock watching over me at work. Maybe this is a little weird, but even beyond his ability to remain highly logical in extremely trying situations, I’ve always admired the way Spock was able to resist displaying human emotion. As a woman in STEM, I frequently find myself modulating the way my face looks in order to avoid coming off as “angry,” “hysterical” or “overly emotional,” even when being upset would be totally justified. I mean, obviously this situation isn’t ideal, but being able to keep a lid on my feelings until I actually want to reveal them makes me feel slightly more in control of my destiny.

Left: my desk today. Right: My desk in 2011.

Left: my desk, 2015. Right: My desk, 2011.

Beyond his work on Star Trek, Nimoy was just a top notch human being, the sort we can all aspire to be. He was a champion of the size-acceptance movement. He quietly fought for wage equality. He wrote poetry. He defended his fans. And he gave the world this gem:

Rest in peace, Nimoy. You will be missed.

Laura Mandanas is a Filipina American living in Boston. By day, she works as an industrial engineer. By night, she is beautiful and terrible as the morn, treacherous as the seas, stronger than the foundations of the Earth. All shall love her and despair. Follow her: @LauraMWrites.

Laura has written 211 articles for us.

43 Comments

  1. A friend of mine told me in study hall this morning and I just sat there for a moment processing it. I grew up on Star Trek, as I’m sure many have, and I always identified with Spock, as I’m sure many have. There was an otherness in him, something that was not the main point of the show but was often alluded to, that I found myself returning to as a child. As I grew up and began to feel different I found myself going back to that, and the complexity of wanting to stay true to all parts of your identity, and it made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I would like to thank Leonard Nimoy for giving me that, and I will hope he has found his peace, for as they say, he lived long and prosperously.

  2. I saw that someone had posted about it on facebook this morning and my heart immediately broke. Leonard Nimoy, his character Spock, and Star Trek meant and will continue to mean so much to me. Rest in peace.

  3. I only recently got into Star Trek pretty heavy. I’ve Always been a huge space based sci fi fan but I waited a long time to start. The Original Series is certainly not my favorite of the bunch (Voyager amiright) But Nimoy has been in my life pretty much since childhood from The Simpsons to “In search of” on those days off from school.

    Until today I expected him to always be there, Living a long Vulcan life. The world is a dimmer place without him.

  4. Thank you for posting this. My heart has been broken since this morning, and I’ve been crying all day… I just can’t believe it. I mean, he was JUST tweeting to us, and now he’s gone? He was my honorary grandfather, and I loved him so much. I can’t imagine a world without Leonard Nimoy. I don’t want to. I just feel so grief-stricken right now. I miss him.

    • Okay I am so glad other people feel this way! I also called him my honorary grandfather, and I have been crying ALL DAY, and I feel stupid for being this upset because I didn’t actually *know* him, but it’s just like you said! He was JUST tweeting to us, and now he is gone. I always felt like he was sort of part of my family just because he would post on Twitter and he invited everyone to be honorary grandchildren and was so warm and welcoming, it felt like he was actually there. 🙁 *hugs*

      • YES ME TOO. I mean he really wanted to make that connection and reach out to all of us as best he could, and well, he succeeded! Both my grandfathers died before I was born and I always wanted to know what it was like to have a grandfather, so when he offered that, I grabbed it! It seems silly but it felt good to have someone who wanted to be my honorary grandfather. It felt like you said, warm and welcoming. Part of a larger family. And I could pretend he loved me and understood me, and even believe it, in a way. *hugs*

    • It’s is sad to hear. I wasn’t as shaken up by this as I was by Robin Williams since Leonard was pretty old and I knew he’d struggled with addiction problems for years. Still he was an inspiration both for his unique action and for his willing nice to try multiple project. It was partially the Star Trek NOOb articles here that got me to finally start following the original series last year and now I look even more forward to discovering other classic Spock moments.

  5. From A Mighty Girl fb page:

    “In memory of Leonard Nimoy, who passed away today at the age of 83, we’re sharing his amazing 1968 response to a biracial teen girl who felt rejected by her peers due to her race.

    Nimoy was touched by the girl’s situation and wrote her a very thoughtful response describing Mr. Spock’s response to the same situation as a half-human and half-Vulcan. His advice, which you can read in full via the link below, will resonate with anyone who ever grappled with issues of peer pressure, popularity, and prejudice:

    “Spock learned he could save himself from letting prejudice get him down. He could do this by really understanding himself and knowing his own value as a person. He found he was equal to anyone who might try to put him down — equal in his own unique way.

    You can do this too, if you realize the difference between popularity and true greatness. It has been said that ‘popularity’ is merely the crumbs of greatness… When you think of people who are truly great and who have improved the world, you can see that they are people who have realized they didn’t need popularity because they knew they had something special to offer the world, no matter how small that offering seemed… It’s all in having the patience to find out what you yourself have to offer the world that’s really uniquely yours.”
    — Leonard Nimoy (aka Mr. Spock)

    http://mystartrekscrapbook.blogspot.com/2013/02/1968-article-spock-teenage-outcast.html

  6. I recently started watching Star Trek The Original Series and am really enjoying it. Spock is a very fascinating & multi-faceted character. Nimoy does an amazing job playing him.

    This past week, I had heard that he went to the hospital & was really praying for him.

    When, I heard of his passing, I felt really sad. Sigh.

  7. One of few point where my mother and I bond, that aren’t marred by stuff, is Star Trek cause she watched growing up and I got to watch it growing up too. She texted me the news with teary emote yesterday and I went on with my day. Only letting all the feels sink in this afternoon.

    Spock is one the reasons I’ve made it this far. Remaining calm in the face of my tormentors as a child kept me out of worse trouble and saved my life. Sure I took the remaining calm, and being neutral thing too far, but that’s related to things not Vulcan. (I combined mutated 2nd or 3rd wave feminism with agoge inspired philosophy…essentially)

    In a crisis I am calm and rational
    In the face of danger I assess and do not give in to terror.
    It doesn’t mean I’m a machine or am broken, but it does unnerve the shit out of people who thought they could cow me by screaming at me, by insulting me, threatening me, or spitting on my face.
    It gave me the precious moment that saved me from death at someone’s hands and few times from possible death or serious injury.

    I have lived, longer than I thought I was supposed to, and I will prosper.
    Good bye old friend.

  8. A friend/co-worker told me, and I was certain it was the another “Jeff Goldbloom died” hoax.

    I don’t know why, but I really just figured he’d be around forever.

    Like a few other commenters, I used to try and use level-headed rationality and logic to stay calm and work through my problems. When I was younger, I read a few Star Trek novels and learned that Vulcans aren’t emotionless, they have learned to control their emotions. That’s who I tried to be.

    It doesn’t quite work for me now in transition, but I’m re-learning how to manage emotion.

    Anyway, I really loved the character Spock, and will really miss Leonard Nimoy.

  9. Spock was my first favorite fictional character. When I was 9 I Scotch taped my fingers together in order to train them to do the Live Long and Prosper salute. It worked! Miss you forever, Nimoy. </3

  10. Very few celebrity deaths affect me the way hearing about Mr. Nimoy’s death did. Michael Jackson is the only other one I can remember.

    Spock and Data were my two favorite character’s in the Star Trek series and I think that’s because they were so different and yet didn’t SEEM different. I had no idea, at the time, why that struck me so hard but, after coming out at 32 I realized I connected with them because I was different but hid it so deep that I didn’t seem different.

    Spock was just a deep character with so many layers and it just made him so easy to relate to and so easy to love.

    Outside of his character Mr. Nimoy always stood for otherness…maybe because of his character, maybe not. However, due to that it is not just the character that will be missed but the man himself.

    RIP Mr. Spock…you will be very missed! 🙁

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