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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Leonard Nimoy 1931-2015

What can I say that has not already been said or is being said in any number of millions of online searches, news outlets or media everywhere? 
Mr. Nimoy passed away on Friday of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 83.
OK, there are the stale facts. 
One more of the greats has passed, and forgive the sentimentality, but the world seems just a little more empty from his absence.
It's rare, in anyone life, to be part of history, at least to the magnitude that Leonard was.  You cannot talk about Leonard, without discussing his most beloved character. Mr. Spock, and you certainly cannot talk about him without discussing Star Trek.  Love it or malign it, but there is NO denying that Star Trek was a pivotal American Icon, and a VITAL part of it's social maturity.  Big words, I know.  But this show, running a mere three seasons,  touched on SO many volatile social issues that were igniting so much controversy in the later half of the sixties, from racism, politics, war, interracial love, woman's rights, equality the list goes on and on.  But, the show had everyone talking. Addressing these issues, while set in the far future, brought the insanity of these issues into sharp focus, but distance us from them just enough.  They poked fun at the "establishment" and all that supported the perpetuation of them.  Think of the episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" in all it's absurdity.  The crew of the Enterprise become embroiled in a civil war between two inhabitants of the same world. The cause of the war?  These two races, although identical in every physical way possible, have one difference, their faces are split down the middle, one side black, one side white but some of the population, according to the great character actor Frank Gorshin portraying Bele, the reason for the devastating civil war that had destroyed their entire civilization, killing all but two, was "I am black on the right side" ... "Lokai is white on the right side. All of his people are white on the right side"
Silly, right?  That's what most folks, watching the episode for the first time, thought.  How could an entire civilization eradicate themselves just because of the color of their skin?...Oh....wait.
Then people were talking.
Why do I go into such a diatribe about a TV show, when I should be talking about Leonard's achievements?  Because this show, and all it's influence on social advancements, may not have happened, if not for the help of Mr. Nimoy.
He had much influence and input in, not only, the direction of the show, but in the development of the character of Spock and by extension, the entirety of the Vulcan race.  Watch the pilot episode "the Cage", there you see a very stale, very human Spock.  After the studio passed on the series, they went back to formula, and here Leonard had input into the motivation of the character and set the Vulcan apart from his human comrades, with his cold, analytical mannerisms.  And the input continued on from there.  He helped shape and mold the entire lexicon of the Federation, all it's spin offs and movies (and directed what I felt to be the best of the first run of movies #4 The Voyage Home, and #3 "The Search For Spock).  Sci Fi may very well have been a very stark, cold, depressive place if not for the optimistic viewpoint set forth by this franchise.
Leonard did go on to have a fruitful career, behind the camera, as well as in many other forms of media.  He will sorely be missed.

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