Leonard Nimoy, who rose to fame as Spock on the sci-fi series “Star Trek,” died Friday morning at his Los Angeles home after a bout with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 83.
The actor was hospitalized last week after firefighters responded to a medical call at his home. Nimoy was reportedly suffering severe chest pains, and was rushed to the UCLA Medical Center. Last year, Nimoy said on Twitter that he was diagnosed with COPD, which he attributed to a smoking habit he had kicked 30 years earlier.
“Grandpa says, quit now!! LLAP,” Nimoy tweeted about smoking, the latter phrase being an abbreviation of the Spock catchphrase “Live long and prosper.”
“Today, the world lost a great man, and I lost a great friend,” former “Star Trek” costar George Takei wrote in a Facebook post Friday. “We return you now to the stars, Leonard. You taught us to ‘Live Long And Prosper,’ and you indeed did, friend. I shall miss you in so many, many ways.”
Born in Boston in 1931, Nimoy took up acting as a child, landing his first major role as Ralphie in Clifford Odet’s Awake and Sing at age 17. He later attended drama classes at Boston College. In 1953, he began a stint in the U.S. Army, which would last until 1955. He served as sergeant.
Nimoy appeared in dozens of B movies and numerous television series including “Dragnet,” “Perry Mason,” “Wagon Train,” “Bonanza” and “The Untouchables.”
It was his role as the half-Vulcan, half-human Spock in the iconic series “Star Trek” that catapulted Nimoy to fame, however. The hyper-logical Spock became a fan favorite. Though the original series only ran from 1966 to 1969, the show became an enduring classic. Spock’s Vulcan salute and catch-phrases would be repeated uncountable times by “Star Trek” fans for decades.
“The death of Leonard Nimoy is indeed an immense loss to us all. I only hope that during this difficult time we can all take comfort in the everlasting impact he has made,” Rod Roddenberry, CEO of Roddenberry Entertainment and son of the legendary “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry, said. “As Spock he portrayed the first Roddenberry character, an outsider who truly let us see ourselves. Leonard Nimoy‘s talent allowed millions to learn more about who we are and who we want to be. I will always thank him for that.”
The actor struggled with his close identification with the character, however. In 1975, Nimoy published his first autobiography, “I Am Not Spock,” which discussed parallels between his life and Spock’s. In the end, though, Nimoy loved Spock, publishing a followup memoir “I Am Spock” in 1995 and returning to the character in the J.J. Abrams “Star Trek” film reboots.
The most significant role Nimoy portrayed in recent years was Dr. William Bell in sci-fi cult favorite “Fringe,” from 2009-2012. Besides acting, Nimoy was an accomplished director. His credits include two of the original “Star Trek” films (“The Quest for Spock” and “The Voyage Home”) and the 1987 comedy hit “3 Men and a Baby.”
Nimoy is survived by his wife Susan, his children and grandchildren. A private memorial service is being planned by the family.