Live long and prosper, Nimoy

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The title of the autobiography of Leonard Nimoy was me am not Spock, and that thus offended some fans that it followed it with one second, I am Spock. The actor who gained a permanent place on the furnace bridge of the pop culture for his representation of Mr. Spock on Star Trek was almost as famous so that one remembers to want for other things.

And that is, of course, highly illogical.

It is hard to think of another star who was so closely and affectionately identified with a single role. Even George Reeves, the first television Superman, was one of the Tarleton twins in Gone With The Wind (1939). It is even harder to think of a TV character that so fully embodied and defined a personality type. Just as Scrooge became synonymous with a miser, and Peter Pan became a syndrome, Spock was dispassion personified.

The fiction of crime and the films offered Sherlock Holmes as distant and intelligent hero final. But to Star Trek, the TV did not really have no matter whom who distinctive - and irresistibly - cold, cerebral and fastidious.

Before the word Asperger's was in common parlance, before Sheldon showed up on The Big Bang Theory, there was Spock, the half-Vulcan, half-human science officer on the Starship Enterprise who revered reason and eschewed emotion.

The original Star Trek, which was created by Gene Roddenberry and went on the air in 1966, lasted only three seasons, but it has never really left the picture: It lives on and on in reruns, remakes, movie adaptations, comedy skits, Halloween costumes, conventions, memorabilia, fan fiction and endless campy parodies on YouTube.

The baby boom generation came of age under the twin pillars of Spock - Doctor and Mister - but it is the Mister from Star Trek that has more resonance now.

Even people who have never seen any of the Star Trek TV series or movies know and use the words

"Vulcan" and "Spock". New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has described United States President Barack Obama's detachment as Vulcan-like. He once posed in the Oval Office with Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura, giving the split-fingered Vulcan salute.

Star Trek had many beloved characters, but Spock stood out as a prototype: His persona seemed new, but it had classic roots.

He was mostly impervious to love, but his mother (played by Jane Wyatt) was human, which meant he could not always suppress his feelings. And that made him the most unattainable and romantic hero imaginable - Hippolytus, Euripides' chaste and scornful warrior, or Charlotte Bronte's Mr Rochester for the sci-fi age. Naturally, some of the more memorable episodes revolve around Mr Spock's extraterrestrial love life.

In Amok Time, he suddenly turned erratic and admitted it was in heat, like one says: In their season of coupling, return of Vulcans to a principal covetousness. (It obtained above it.) While on a mission in the episode this side of the paradise, it was infected by the mysterious spores of factory which returned it dazed with happiness and romanticizes it.

But his strongest bond was with Captain James T. Kirk, played by William Shatner, and that was a bromance that still resonates.

Shatner moved on; he even found a new screen buddy, James Spader, on Boston Legal. Nimoy stayed in the game for a while, notably by playing Paris in Mission: Impossible (1996) and doing a lot of theatre, but he had a hard time finding roles that eclipsed the eclat of Spock. He turned to philanthropy and art, publishing poetry record albums and several books of poetry and photography, including a collection of nude portraits of overweight women, titled The Full Body Project.

A little like Spock struggling between his two sides, Nimoy was torn between his real self and his Star Trek identity, the one fans were so passionate to prolong. And like Spock, Nimoy was gracious about the pressure, allowing for human weakness even when he did not share it. Everyone wanted him to be Spock, forever. Once in a while, Nimoy complied.

He lent his voice to a Spock action figure on a 2012 episode of The Big Bang Theory in which Sheldon (Jim Parsons) dreams that his toy Spock is real. Even that brief cameo alludes to Nimoy's ambivalence about his stardom. Sheldon rhapsodises about what it would be like on the bridge of the Enterprise. The miniature Spock replies dryly: "Trust me, it gets old after a while."

Not for his fans. In his later years, Nimoy took to Twitter and gamely ended his tweets with the abbreviation for the Vulcan adieu, Live Long And Prosper.

LLAP sounds a lot better than R.I.P.

 
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