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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Leonard Nimoy was an intelligent man. At least, that is what the entire world thought because of his alter-ego Mr. Spock. Spock was an off-the-charts genius, so Nimoy must have been that way too. Nimoy knew that his unique facial features would always associate him with Spock so, like the intelligent man he was, he played on that and took roles outside of Star Trek such as the host of the television documentary series In Search Of. If Spock was smart, then Nimoy must have been smart as well. And he was…very smart.

As a child, much of my upbringing was done by music, television, and movies. Television characters were as real to me as my own friends. When those characters successfully crossed over from television to movies, then that made those characters almost accessible to me and it cemented the association between the actor and the character forever. I know I am not the only person who grew up that way and I know I am not the only person who grew up believing that Leonard Nimoy was Mr. Spock and that Mr. Spock was never wrong.

The news of Nimoy’s passing last week was numbing to me because I honestly never thought about the possibility of it happening. Television and movies have this way of suspending actors in time and making them look like they never age. We all had to stop for a moment when we saw Nimoy playing Spock Prime in the Star Trek reboot and we were forced to admit that actors really do age.

While Nimoy based almost his entire career on being Mr. Spock, we had not seen him in the role for years. His appearance in the Star Trek reboot was brilliant and startling. But still, we all held onto that notion that Spock would always be there. Now he’s gone and a lot of us are lost.

It took me a few days to be able to write this and I am not ashamed to say it. As I get older, my heroes get older and pass away and that is always sobering. Especially to someone who puts so much stock in people I have never met. When you grow up watching these characters, they become a part of your life. When the actors pass away, something gets torn from you and it hurts.

We will always have Nimoy’s work to keep us company and remind us of his brilliance. But we will never get to hear his insights on important and unimportant topics ever again, and we will miss that. If you want to enjoy Leonard Nimoy outside of his Spock role, then watch a few of his interviews on YouTube. The man was brilliant and it always shines through when he talks with the media.

Few actors protected their iconic characters like Nimoy protected Spock. J.J. Abrams and Zachary Quinto sought out and received Nimoy’s approval before Quinto picked up the torch as the new Spock. Prior to Quinto’s ascension, Nimoy did everything associated with Spock. From playing the role on television and in movies to voicing video games and cartoons, Nimoy was Spock and the world knew it. Now the burden on Quinto becomes much heavier and we can only hope that he is able to sustain it.

Spock was the first television character that made it cool to be smart and it was Nimoy who gave Spock his luster. Nimoy created the Vulcan hand greeting from a traditional Jewish ritual and it was Nimoy who penned the line “Live long and prosper.” He penned it for Spock, but it was obvious that it came from his heart as well.

Mr. Spock walked that line between human emotion and total logic and it took nothing short of a brilliant actor to make the Spock character iconic. Nimoy was a great actor and, for millions of us who never knew him but still felt like he was our friend, he was a great role model as well.

Of my friend, I can only say this. Of all of the souls I have ever encountered in television or movies, his was the most . . .  human. You will always be missed Leonard Nimoy. The world is a much darker place without you. Thank you for being a huge part of my life and thank you for protecting a character that meant so much to so many of us.

You lived long and you prospered. We can only hope to accomplish a fraction of what you did.

R.I.P. to the Great Leonard Nimoy.

+George N Root III  is devastated and mourning.

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