Last Friday, February 27th, one of the most iconic figures in the later years of television’s Golden Age passed away. Leonard Nimoy was remembered best for his role as Spock in Star Trek but his career spanned sixty years in front and behind the camera. Few may be aware of it but Nimoy’s work covered nearly every aspect of production from actor to writer and even producer. Today’s blog is a celebration of Nimoy’s career and serves as an informative look at the lesser known aspects of his epic career.
Nimoy Wrote Four Star Trek Films
While he is only credited as a writer on Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Nimoy also had a hand in both the first and third films in the franchise as well. He had already been an inspiration to the show’s writers even being openly credited for inventing the Vulcan Nerve Pinch when writers were unsure of how he would disarm an attacker. Others may have been well remembered for their roles on Star Trek but Nimoy had a direct influence on the overall lure and that lead to his inclusion on the writing team when the television show became a film series in 1979.
His first official work in the franchise came after three very dramatic films. Star Trek had slowly become associated with sci-fi action and Nimoy wished a return to the lighter-hearted elements of the series. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was inspired by this idea and became one of the franchise’s most successful releases. This solidified Nimoy’s role as the series continued on and he returned two films later with a very different direction. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is not seen as the most successful in franchise history but is certainly one of the more controversial as Gene Roddenberry himself had doubts about the writing.
Nimoy Wove Jewish Faith into Vulcan Culture
Leonard Nimoy was born to Orthodox Jewish parents and remained active in the Jewish community his entire life. His knowledge of the culture and the ability to speak Hebrew and Yiddish was a big influence on the development of Vulcan culture. The infamous Vulcan hand gesture, symbolizing the famous phrase “live long and prosper,” was commonly used by Jewish priests called Kohen. They would use the symbol to bless the congregation before mass.
Nimoy would also slip in Hebrew or Yiddish words that were foreign to most American audiences when possible. He was never ashamed of his religion and inclusions like this were his way of honoring his heritage, something that Star Trek would later come to represent through its diverse alien cultures. With that said, Nimoy was in no way a religious conservative. In 2002 he published a book exploring, through photography, the feminist aspects of God’s presence. He was condemned by some in the community for his work.
Director of an 80′s Comedy Classic
Leonard Nimoy is remembered best for his work on Star Trek but he had success far outside of the realm of science fiction. The best example is the 1987 comedy 3 Men and a Baby. Opening in the top spot at the box office, the film went on to be the most successful of 1987 topping out with over $100 million in ticket sales. It was only his third film as director and his first away from Star Trek. 3 Men and a Baby was a remake of a French film of similar name only a few years earlier but found far more success with American audiences.
When the sequel came about a few short years later it was surprising not to see Nimoy attached. By this point he had returned to the Star Trek franchise and had decided to direct another film with Gene Wilder entitled Funny About Love. Once again it focused heavily on family structure in current society which was a constant concern in most of Nimoy’s work.