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television, movie, and stage actor
Leonard Simon Nimoy was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on March 26, 1931, the second son of Max (a barber) and Dora Nimoy; his brother Melvin was five years older. He decided to become an actor while still in elementary school, despite his parents' wishes that he puruse a more stable career, and first appeared on stage in a community theater production of "Hansel and Gretel" at the age of 8. He continued to appear in amateur shows until he was 18, when he left home to travel to California to begin his career in earnest.
Nimoy made his screen debut as a bit player in Queen for a Day (1951), followed by another uncredited bit part in Rhubarb (1951). In 1952, after only one year in Hollywood and two forgettable bit roles, Nimoy played the lead role in Kid Monk Baroni. Unfortunately for Nimoy, his first starring role ended up being in a film that fared poorly at the box office and he was once again relegated to bit parts. On December 3, 1953, he left Hollywood to begin a two-year stint in the U.S. Army. After his discarge as a Sergeant on November 23, 1955, he returned to Hollywood and resumed his acting career.
During the late '50s and early '60s, Nimoy appeared in many of the well-known TV series of the period, including Wagon Train, Man from U.N.C.L.E., Rawhide, Perry Mason, and Combat. He also appeared in several feature films, including The Balcony (1963) and Deathwatch (1966), as well as in stage theater productions.
In the mid-1960's, a call went out for "a tall, thin guy" to play the part of an alien crew member in a science fiction series then in the planning stages. Casting director Joseph D'Agosta remembered Nimoy from his work in an earlier World War II series, The Lieutenant (1963), and gave him a call about this role. And so was born his most famous role, the half-Vulcan-half-human Mr. Spock in Star Trek (1966-1969). The only actor to appear in all 80 episodes of the series and one of only two (the other being Majel Barrett, who played Nurse Christine Chapel) to appear in both the first and last episodes, Nimoy earned three Emmy nominations for Best Supporting Actor during the show's run.
Almost immediately after Star Trek was cancelled in 1969, Nimoy joined the cast of Mission: Impossible, in which he starred as Paris, an IMF agent who was an ex-magician and make-up expert. He remained with that show until 1971.
After co-starring in Catlow with Yul Brynner and Richard in 1971, Nimoy returned to television for most of the rest of the 1970's. In addition to appearances in episodes of Rod Serling's Night Gallery (1972 and 1973) and Columbo (1973), he appeared in various made-for-television films such as Assault on the Wayne (1970), Baffled (1972), The Alpha Caper (1973), and The Missing Are Deadly (1974), hosted the documentary series In Search of... (1976-1982), and voiced the part of Spock in the animated version of Star Trek (1973-1974). During this time, he also won acclaim for a series of stage roles, including major roles Fiddler on the Roof, Oliver!, Six Rms Riv Vu, Camelot, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The King and I, Caligula, The Four Poster, Equus, and My Fair Lady.
Nimoy continued to stay busy through the 1980's and 1990's, starring in the made-for-television movies The Story Of Kathy Morris (1980), Marco Polo (1982), and A Woman Called Golda (1982), as well as resurrecting his role as Spock in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and its five sequels. He made his directorial debut with Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), and followed that with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), Three Men and A Baby (1987), The Good Mother (1988), Funny About Love (1990), and Holy Matrimony (1994). He continued to make appearances in television series, including twice as Spock in Star Trek: The Next Generation and a recurring role in the drama Fringe, until finally announcing his retirement from acting in 2010.
In addition to acting, Nimoy has also enjoyed success in other pursuits. An accomplished photographer specializing in black and white images, he has given many exhibitions of his works. He is the author of several volumes of poetry, as well as of two autobiographies, I Am Not Spock (1977) and I Am Spock (1995). He also recorded a few albums, including The Touch of Leonard Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock's Music From Outer Space. In September 2000 he was awarded a Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Antioch University for his work in Holocaust Remembrance. In 2001, he and his second wife, Susan Bay, donated $1 million toward the renovation and expansion of Griffith Observatory, in Los Angeles. A new lecture hall, the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon has since been named in his honor.
Leonard Nimoy married Sandra Zober on February 21, 1954. The couple had two children, Adam and Julie, before divorcing in 1987. He married Susan Bay on January 1, 1989. He died in Los Angeles, California, on February 27, 2015.
This page was last updated on 03/25/2017.