Leonard (Leyb) Simon Nimoy – a beloved actor who hailed from a Yiddish speaking household in Boston – succumbed to heart, pulmonary and lung illnesses in Los Angeles at the age of 83 today.
He gained fame internationally playing an extremely logical, half-Vulcan-half-human science and first officer on the Star Trek television series and its films as Dr. Spock. He was also famous for his poems, music albums, Jewish infused photography and patronage of the the arts and theatres. He created the Vulcan greeting of “Live long and prosper” (from the Vulcan “Dif-tor heh smusma”), based on the signs of the Jewish Kohanim. Nimoy penned two autobiographies: “I Am Not Spock,” published in 1977, and “I Am Spock,” published in 1995.
Nimoy recently appeared in the J. J. Abrams directed revival of the “Star Trek” film franchise, with Zachary Quinto as Spock — and a cameo for Nimoy, as an older version of Spock.
On stage, he played Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” and he began in the theatre as a child actor at the age of eight in Boston area Yiddish productions.
Born in Boston on March 26, 1931, Nimoy was the second son of Max and Dora Nimoy, Orthodox Jewish immigrants who had fled to Poland from Ukraine and on to America. Max Nimoy worked as a barber. In the U.S. Army based at Fort McPherson, Leonard Nimoy presided over the Army’s Special Services branch’s theater productions. He also directed and starred as Stanley in the Atlanta Theater Guild’s production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” in 1955. Nimoy also directed two of the Star Trek movies, “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” (1984) and “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” (1986), which he helped write. He also directed the hugely successful comedy “Three Men and a Baby” (1987), and he received an Emmy nomination for the 1982 movie “A Woman Called Golda,” in which he portrayed the husband of Golda Meir (played by Ingrid Bergman).
The Thalia, a small art movie theater on Manhattan’s Upper West Side was named for him in 2002. He was its benefactor. His book of photos is titled “Shekhina.”
In the video below, a Yiddish speaking Nimoy discusses his career