by staff writer Laura Davis
Eighty-two years ago today, Leonard Nimoy was born in Boston. Clearly, among sci-fi fans, the-man-who-played-Spock needs no introduction, but in honor of his birthday, let’s look beyond Spock. Nimoy began acting at age 8 in community theater. He studied acting at Boston College, though he didn’t complete a degree at that time. He served in the U.S. Army from 1953-55 (thank you for your service, Mr. Nimoy!) and played countless roles(most of them small) in film and television, before landing the role of Spock.
The transition from the 60s to the 70s brought Nimoy two seasons in a key role on Mission: Impossible, and a chance to realize a rather unusual dream. He opened Nimoy’s Pet Pad in Canoga Park, California. In a 1970 interview with Michele Jacques, Nimoy explained that he had long wished “To open a pet shop … with all the kinds of animals available that he often wished he see in other shops he frequented.” Jacques’ article goes on to explain, “[the store is stocked with] chipmunks, monkies [sic.], crocodiles, boa constrictors, a South American Otter and, of course, cats and dogs, just to mention a few. But the cats and dogs are not just the ordinary variety we find anywhere. They are all sorts of exotic and rare types. Leonard also has a tortoise which runs free in his backyard, His children love it, and take excellent care of it. Probably better care than they would of any ‘ordinary’ animal.”
Later in the decade, Nimoy hosted the popular In Search of… TV series, and studied photography at UCLA. He stills owns a camera he rebuilt at age 13, and his photography has been exhibited at the R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Museum of Modern Art.
Throughout the years, Nimoy has done a great deal of stage acting, in addition to his work in film and TV, playing in everything from The King and I and My Fair Lady, to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Caligula. He has authored more than a dozen books, including books of poetry, and recorded five albums of music. He directed and made a cameo appearance in The Bangles’ “Going Down to Liverpool” music video, and in 2011, he starred in the alternate version music video for Bruno Mars’ “Lazy Song.”
Nimoy is an active member of the Jewish community, and in 1997, narrated a documentary on Hasidic Orthodoxy, Life Apart: Hasidism in America. In 2002, inspired by Kabbalah, he published a photographic study, The Shekhina Project, which examined the feminine aspect of God’s presence.
At age 82, Nimoy is retired. Sort of. Except for all of the voice work he does, and, until recently, a recurring role on the now-completed Fox TV series, Fringe. The man is so much more than the role that has, in many ways, defined his public persona. Still, he approaches his fans with kindness and good humor. This morning, Nimoy tweeted, “Thanks all for brightening my already fantastic day w/your birthday wishes. Spending all this energy is not logical but it is sooo good.LLAP.” May you Live Long and Prosper, too, Mr. Nimoy! Happy birthday!