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Nimoy Is Gone, But Mr. Spock WIll Live Forever

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Nimoy Is Gone, But Mr. Spock WIll Live Forever

Remembrances

Nimoy Is Gone, But Mr. Spock WIll Live Forever

Nimoy Is Gone, But Mr. Spock WIll Live Forever

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Leonard Nimoy died Friday at the age of 83. NPR's Scott Simon remembers the man who was best known for his role as Spock.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Mr. Spock is not dead. He's a character who will continue to appear in films and other media, some even not yet invented. But Leonard Nimoy, who died yesterday at the age of 83, was not only the man who first played Spock, but a man of the theater who defined a character that has become for many as familiar as Sherlock Holmes - Spock, the pointy-eared man from the planet Vulcan, first officer of The Enterprise, who ruled his life with icy, unsmiling logic and upraised eyebrows.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "STAR TREK")

NICHELLE NICHOLS: (As Uhura) Mr. Spock, are you all right?

LEONARD NIMOY: (As Mr. Spock) Yes, I believe no permanent damage was done.

NICHOLS: (As Uhura) What happened?

NIMOY: (As Mr. Spock) The occipital area of my head seems to have impacted with the arm of the chair.

NICHOLS: (As Uhura) No, Mr. Spock. I meant what happened to us?

NIMOY: (As Mr. Spock) That we have yet to ascertain.

SIMON: Spock had a Vulcan father but a human mother. And sometimes, under the pressure of the mission to boldly go where no man has gone before, his impassive mask of logic cracked - almost.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "STAR TREK")

NIMOY: (As Mr. Spock) I'm in control of my emotions (crying) control my emotions.

SIMON: Leonard Nimoy himself devised two of the gestures to define Spock. The script of an early episode of the "Star Trek" TV series called for him to punch a bad guy. Leonard Nimoy thought that didn't suit Spock, so he created the Vulcan nerve pinch that could level a bad guy with just a light touch of two fingers. It was the man of logic's knockout punch. Then there was...

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "STAR TREK")

NIMOY: (As Mr. Spock) Live long and prosper.

SIMON: The Vulcan salute - a play of fingers on an upraised hand that Leonard Nimoy said he based on a blessing he'd seen in his Orthodox synagogue as a boy. Gifted actors give flesh to a character with that kind of gesture. The original "Star Trek" TV series ran for just three seasons, and several of the actors had problems returning to Earth. They felt typecast and depressed. Leonard Nimoy - sorry, but it's irresistible - lived long and prospered. In the years that passed between "Star Trek's" cancellation and its reboot, Leonard Nimoy starred in dozens of other TV shows. He directed movies, wrote memoirs and poetry and became an accomplished photographer and philanthropist. He toured as Tevye in "Fiddler On The Roof," and he recorded a couple of albums.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PROUD MARY")

NIMOY: (Singing) Rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river.

SIMON: I sat next to Leonard Nimoy at an awards dinner once and asked about his music, which was often mocked. He narrowed his eyebrows Vulcan-like, but said with Spockian logic, who cares about critics? They don't pay anyway. Some actors bemoan becoming rich and famous for a single role. A professional is proud of their range. But Leonard Nimoy seemed to appreciate how "Star Trek" fired so many imaginations around the world and over decades. There's a scene toward the end of the 2009 "Star Trek" film in which Zachary Quinto, who now plays Spock, encounters his older self, Spock embodied by Leonard Nimoy. The metaphysics get a little confused, but wise, old Spock, who's been around the heavens, advises his younger self to continue his mission among the stars.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAR TREK")

NIMOY: (As Spock Prime) Spock, in this case, do yourself a favor - put aside logic. Do what feels right.

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