Saturday, February 28, 2015

ATM Remembers: Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)

Advertisement for another well-known Leonard Nimoy
series, Alan Landsburg's In Search Of... (from a 1977 issue of Broadcasting).

"Live Long and Prosper."
1969 Paramount Pictures
syndication advertisement
for Star Trek (pictured in
the advertisement are
William Shatner,
Leonard Nimoy,
and DeForest Kelley.
At The Matinee remembers iconic actor Leonard Nimoy, who died at the age of 83 on Feburary 27th. Nimoy was best known for his role as "Mr. Spock" on the cult Gene Roddenberry science fiction series, Star Trek.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts on March 26, 1931 to Nina and Max Nimoy, Leonard Nimoy became interested in acting at the age of 8, After acting in high school productions at English High School, and in college productions at Boston College.  He left Boston before graduating, setting his sights on the west coast to study acting in Pasadena, California.

Nimoy would settle in Hollywood after a short stint with the U.S. Army Reserve in 1953.  He was also working "odd jobs," including a job as a soda jerk and driving taxi cabs.  One of Nimoy's first acting breaks was an uncredited role in the 1954 cult sci-fi film, Them!

After several parts in iconic TV shows, including Dragnet, The Twilight Zone, and Bonanza- Nimoy worked on a TV series created by Gene Roddenberry, The Lieutenant (1963-64).  This would eventually lead Nimoy to his biggest break, in the role of the half-vulcan science officer "Mr. Spock" in Roddenberry's celebrated sci-fi series, Star Trek (1966-69. alongside William Shatner, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, and James Doohan).

In a 2005 interview with CBS News, Nimoy stated that he adapted Spock's iconic hand sign, from blessings that the rabbis gave during his childhood.

In 1967, the production company that produced the show with Roddenberry's Norway Corporation, Desilu Productions, was sold by Lucille Ball to Gulf+Western Industries, which acquired Paramount Pictures one year earlier (the Desilu lot, which was the former RKO lot, was Paramount's next-door lot, and all studio operations would be consolidated into Paramount).  As a result of this, Paramount's recorded music division, Dot Records, was in desperate need of new talent for their record label.  The studio looked to their new TV talent as possible recording artists.  Nimoy was one of them (the other was Greg Morris, from another Desilu-turned-Paramount series, Mission: Impossible, which Nimoy would join shortly after the cancellation of Star Trek from 1969-71).

That same year, Nimoy released his first album on Dot- Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock's Music From Outer Space.  More albums would follow, including The Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy (1967), The Way I Feel (1968), The Touch of Leonard Nimoy (1969), and The New World of Leonard Nimoy (1969).

Though Star Trek was not a smash success during its 79-episode run on NBC, it would become a cult phenomenon (as well as a big moneymaker for Paramount), as "trekkies" have been religiously watching the show (and its numerous spin-off series), along with popular Star Trek conventions that Nimoy attended over the years.  He would also lend his voice to the Star Trek animated series, which ran from 1973-74, and would reprise his role of Spock in several movie adaptations of the TV series (he directed two Star Trek films).  He would play the role of an older spock in J.J. Abrams' filmed adaptation of Star Trek (opposite Zachary Quinto, who plays a younger Spock), and Star Trek: Into Darkness.

He would also host Alan Landsburg's syndicated television series, In Search Of..., which lasted from 1976 to 1982.  Nimoy was also an accomplished photographer, poet, and art collector.  He portrayed Vincent Van Gogh's brother, Theo, in a one-man play titled "Vincent."

He would also lend his voice in several episodes of The Simpsons, and in Matt Groening's spin-off, Futurama.  Nimoy lent his voice to a mint-condition Spock figurine in an episode of The Big Bang Theory (during the program's fifth season in 2012).

Farewell to one of the greats, Leonard Nimoy.


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