Happy birthday Leonard Nimoy!

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Leonard Nimoy (March 26, 1931) is a Jewish American film and television actor who is best known for his portrayal of Mr. Spock on Star Trek. Nimoy has said that over the long course of playing such a distinct character, he has become deeply attached to the fictional persona, and that their two identities have somewhat merged. Nimoy himself created the Vulcan salute from memories of the manner in which Jewish priests held their hand while giving blessings. The accompanying blessing, which became one of his character's best-known lines, is "Live long and prosper."

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After college, Leonard Nimoy moved from Boston to California to pursue an acting career. By the mid 1950s, Nimoy had appeared in a number of films and television shows, including The Twilight Zone and Perry Mason. Nimoy's appearance on an episode of The Lieutenant caught the attention of Gene Roddenberry, who was then casting his new show, Star Trek. Nimoy was able to develop much of the character of Spock himself, creating the Vulcan Nerve Pinch and the Vulcan salute. Both Nimoy and William Shatner, who played U.S.S. Enterprise captain James T. Kirk, became hugely popular as a result of the show.

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After Star Trek ended, Nimoy appeared on Mission: Impossible for two years, and then took on stage roles, including Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, and made-for-television roles. During this time, he also began to dabble with directing and producing television, for which he developed a respectable reputation. Nimoy wrote several volumes of poetry, and released an autobiography called I Am Not Spock, dealing with the identity crisis he faced because his fictional identity loomed so large in his life. He also hosted the series In Search Of... which investigated paranormal and unusual activities. He also starred in the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

By the late 1970s, Paramount Pictures decided to invest in a renewed public interest in science fiction and Star Trek, and Nimoy reprised his role as Spock in the big-screen version of Star Trek. He went on to appear in the sequel, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, as well as direct the next installments: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Nimoy left the franchise soon after, feeling that the weight of the series was too great, and that his relationship with co-star William Shatner had become incredibly strained. Nimoy spent the next few years appearing in a few films, but mostly worked behind the screen, earning a reputation as a serious director. Nimoy has frequently done narration and voice-over work for a number of television shows, and has appeared as fictionalized versions of both himself and Spock on shows like Futurama and The Simpsons. In 1995, he released his second autobiography, I Am Spock.

Nimoy repaired his friendship with Shatner, and eventually served as the best man in Shatner's wedding in 1997. Nimoy reprised his role as the original Spock in J.J. Abrams' alternate-universe adaptation of the series, released in 2009, with Zachary Quinto as the "new" Spock. Nimoy also appeared on SNL on May 9 of that year, alongside Seth Meyers on "Weekend Update" to voice his support for the new film, and to say that fans who didn't like the movie were "dickheads." Although largely retired from professional acting, Nimoy is an active philanthropist and member of the Jewish community. Nimoy narrated the documentary A Life Apart: Hasidism in America, and published The Shekhina Project, a photographic study exploring the feminine aspect of God, in 2002.

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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Wednesday, 26 March 2014
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