When I was young, my dad and I were watching television. As he flipped through the channels, he stopped and asked if I had ever seen “Star Trek.” When I shook my head no, he said that we were about to watch a great, classic television show. The episode was “Trouble With Tribbles,” and the little furry creatures immediately had me hooked.
What I did not realize, was that this was my first exposure to Mr. Spock, and a man I would come to love and respect, Leonard Nimoy.
The world has lost a legend.
“Star Trek” sparked acceptance of so-called “nerd” culture in the United States. Nimoy was instrumental in the success of the show and his iconic character will long be remembered and cherished by many.
His character was also a pioneer for more serious cultural issues. As noted by NPR, Spock was half-human and half-Vulcan, which allowed him to become a symbol for people who are mixed-race. When a young girl wrote a letter to Spock about her struggles as a mixed-race person, he had a beautiful response:
“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.”
As for his feminist efforts, Nimoy was a proponent of body acceptance—as seen through his photography of women of all sizes—as well as equal pay. When he was informed that Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, was receiving less money for her role in “Star Trek” than he, Walter Koenig and George Takei, he took it upon himself to correct the disparity.
Always a supporter of science and knowledge, Nimoy regularly made appearances at significant scientific events and showed his support for the scientific community. As reported by Today, one physicist explained that, “although Spock was fiction, he inspired me to dig more deeply into science.”
He has consistently been thoughtful and generous to his fans and admirers, taking great care to respect them and show his appreciation. Nimoy embraced those who are different in both his work and personal life, making him a beloved figure. Because of Nimoy we have scientists, because of Nimoy we have people who are proud to be different and because of Nimoy we are a more accepting world.
Naturally, there has been an outpouring of love for Nimoy in the form of memorials, tributes, fan art and even decorating currency.
Canada’s five dollar bill features Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who happens to bear a slight resemblance to Nimoy. As a result, people have begun Spock-ifying the image to pay tribute to the late actor.
Leonard Nimoy is an icon, and he will never be forgotten.
Live long and prosper, Rams.
Collegian A&E Writer Aubrey Shanahan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @aubs926.