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Nimoy brought complexity to the logical Spock.

Leonard Nimoy long chafed at the typecasting that followed his initial run as the emotionless Mr. Spock on the original "Star Trek" series. After all, Nimoy was a studied thespian who worked as an acting teacher before and after the maiden voyage of the Enterprise.

In truth, it was Nimoy's considerable chops that made Spock the role of a lifetime. The lanky, angular actor ably tackled the challenge of breathing humanity and complexity into a character that claimed to have no feelings, no passions, only a robotic fealty to the dictates of logic.

The role would have been a tall order in any setting, let alone with Nimoy donning pointy ears and working within the trappings of a sci-fi series. But whether Spock was doing a mind-meld with a blob-shaped animal, working scientific magic with his tricorder, saving Capt. Kirk's neck (again and again) or courageously sacrificing his life to serve "the needs of the many," Nimoy brought Spock to life in a way that made "Star Trek" smart and distinctive.

The character was so driven by his principles that the brief flashes of humor or snark or outrage (often in his sparring scenes with DeForest Kelley's Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy) he flashed were always highlights of any episode. The bonds of friendship and service among Spock, Kirk and McCoy were the foundation of the "Star Trek" universe, the thing that allowed for a three-seasons-and-out series to be resurrected as a feature film franchise. Producers milked this dynamic through the half-dozen movies made with the original cast members--never more so than the memorable scene in "Star Trek V" where Bones and Kirk try to lure Spock into joining a campfire rendition of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat."

In the hands of a lesser actor, Spock would have been a one-note character. Nimoy turned him into the half-human, half-Vulcan uncle we all wish we could turn to in times of crisis.

After "Star Trek" ended its initial run in 1969, Nimoy joined the cast of CBS' "Mission: Impossible" for its final two seasons --ironically he filled the void left by the departure of Martin Landau, who had been on the short list to play Spock.

He did other TV guests shots, TV movies and stage work. He hosted the pseudo-documentary series "In Search Of ...," and yes, he even recorded a few pop albums during and after the original "Star Trek" run. (Two words: "Proud Mary"). He published volumes of poetry and photography.

In 1977, Nimoy famously titled his autobiography "I Am Not Spock." Two years later, he was back in his Vulcan garb when the first "Star Trek" feature was released by Paramount. The movies gave the franchise a whole new life, and allowed Nimoy to stretch creatively by directing the third and fourth installments.

By the time he decided to pen a second memoir in 1995, he'd made peace with his alter ego. The title was perfectly logical: "I Am Spock."

Local Hero

Leonard Nimoy was known as a generous and humble all-round mensch, especially in L.A. He and his wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, have supported science, education and the arts across a broad range of organizations, including a $1 million donation to the Los Angeles Observatory for its renovation and addition of the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater. He also supported many Jewish causes and backed Hollywood's Temple Israel Bay-Nimoy Early Childhood Center.

Just the Facts

BORN: March 26, 1931, Boston

DIED: Feb. 27,2015, Los Angeles

MARRIED: Susan Bay Mimoy on Jan. 1,1989
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Title Annotation:IN TRIBUTE; Leonard Nimoy
Author:Littleton, Cynthia
Publication:Variety
Article Type:Obituary
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 3, 2015
Words:587
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