Boldly Go Through This Video Collection of Leonard Nimoy’s Career Highlights
The late, great Leonard Nimoy, who died earlier today at the age of 83, will always be Mr. Spock, second-in-command of the USS Enterprise under Captain James T. Kirk. For a long time, Nimoy was not okay with this. And then, over the years, he embraced the character that defined his career and inspired an entire generation of fans (many of whom became scientists, engineers, and astronauts). But Nimoy didn't just sit back and rest on his Vulcan laurels. When he wasn't wearing those pointy ears, Nimoy was acting, directing, writing, singing, and lending his likeness and distinctive voice to commercials and TV specials. He was a real Hollywood renaissance man, dabbling in high art, low art, and everything in-between.
So let's boldly go on a journey into the uncharted space that is YouTube and revisit the best (and craziest) moments from a 60-plus-year career. There will be old favorites. There will be insightful interviews. And there will be a commercial where Nimoy talks with an alien rock about a record player.
1. Wagon Train to the stars (minus the stars)
Wagon Train’s “The Estaban Zamora Story” (1959)
Before he joined the cast of Star Trek, which was often described as “Wagon Train to the stars,” Nimoy made several guest appearances on the actual Wagon Train, which aired on NBC and ABC from 1957 to 1965. Nimoy appeared in four different episodes, starting with this one, “The Estaban Zamora Story,” from 1959.
2. Pain don’t Horta
From Star Trek’s “The Devil in the Dark” (1967)
ScreenCrush contributor Jacob Hall says this classic scene from the original Star Trek was the first one he thought of when remembering Spock’s greatest moments. It’s easy to see why. “Pain! Pain! Pain!” This is some capital-A awesome acting.
3. For fans of The Cable Guy
From Star Trek’s “Amok Time” (1967)
Here’s another iconic Spock scene from TOS, with Kirk and Spock fighting to the death while that famous music by Gerald Fried blares in the background. By this point in the series, Spock had already been established as a logical, dispassionate Vulcan, which made this brutal battle that much more shocking. Also, Nimoy looks great with a purple sash.
4. Through a glass darkly, with facial hair
From Star Trek’s “Mirror, Mirror” (1967)
Three episodes later, Trek introduced its Mirror Universe, an alternate reality with evil versions of the Enterprise crew, and Nimoy got to show off another, darker side of his talents. Giving an actor a goatee to indicate he’s playing his villainous double remains a standard of genre fiction to this day. And keeping a straight face opposite Shatner in that vest was a truly Herculean effort.
5. Hammer time
From The Way I Feel (1968)
All right, so Nimoy’s musical career wasn’t what you would call “distinguished.” But every Star Trek fan has spent an hour (or ten) listening to (and chuckling at) Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space and his assorted greatest hits, including his lively rendition of the folk standard “If I Had a Hammer.”
In Search Of...’s “Bigfoot” (1977)
After the original Star Trek series went off the air, Nimoy was the host of this largely forgotten series about unexplained phenomena. Here’s a full episode from its original run, all about the legends and mythology around Bigfoot:
7. “Don’t be trapped by old concepts.”
From Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Mr. Spock wasn’t exactly warm and fuzzy, but he was practically a teddy bear compared to Nimoy’s character in the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. As Dr. David Kibner (and a member of a race of alien invaders), Nimoy deployed his ability to play cold and emotionless to chilling effect.
8. Where no glowing alien rock has gone before
DiscoVision Promo (1981)
Here’s a great little oddity we found wandering YouTube: A promo from 1981 for Magnavox’s DiscoVision featuring Nimoy (with a mustache, so maybe it’s actually Mirror Universe Nimoy) interacting with a chirping, glowing rock to sell what he describes as “gourmet video.” The first thing we’re going to do when they invent time travel is slingshot around the sun and go back to the early ’80s so we can buy one of these.
9. “Pleasant, wasn’t it?”
BBC Interview (1982)
In this hilarious interview from 1982, Nimoy shills The Wrath of Khan by, among other things, beaming into the interview and playing coy about whether or not Spock dies at the end of the film. “I think you’ll have to see it,” Nimoy says with a smile.
10. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
From Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
As Matt Singer noted in his obituary for Nimoy here on the site, this is simply one of the greatest death scenes in movie history. No one who has watched it has ever forgotten it. Even Star Trek Into Darkness ripping it off in incredibly dumb fashion hasn’t dulled its power. And on a day like today, it’s almost too sad to watch.
11. “Everything you’re doing is getting in my way Hooker!”
From T.J. Hooker’s “Vengeance Is Mine” (1983)
I’m assuming the title of this episode refers to the fact that it features Nimoy punching Shatner right in the mouth. After all those years of giving Spock orders, he had it coming. The zoom-in staredown after the punch is epic.
12. This music is highly illogical
From Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
A classic moment. Traveling back to the past (our present, at least at the time the movie was shot), Kirk and Spock encounter one of the most hostile alien life forms known to man: A punk rocker who refuses to turn off his boombox. Every urban city dweller has had a moment on public transportation where they dreamed they could Vulcan nerve-pinch someone into submission.
13. A logical return
From Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Unification” (1991)
Nimoy appeared in two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, reprising the role of Spock for “Unification,” about his efforts to reunite the Vulcan and Romulan races. As usual, Nimoy’s message was a hopeful and inspiring one.
14. Anyone want to switch seats?
From The Simpsons’ “Marge vs. the Monorail” (1993)
Nimoy also holds the distinctions of being one of the very best guest stars in the history of The Simpsons (on one of the very best episodes in the show’s history). In “Marge vs. the Monorail,” Mr. Spock himself showed up to ponder a solar eclipse, save the life of a suicidal Krusty the Clown (“No! The world needs laughter!”), and make one of the greatest TV exits of all time.
15. Together again, one last time
From Shatner’s Raw Nerve (2009)
Shatner and Nimoy became joined together in our collective memories, and they maintained an interesting relationship over the years. Here, Shatner interviews Nimoy on his talk show Shatner’s Raw Nerve. Nimoy talks about growing up with disapproving parents and then bringing those conflicts to life in a Clifford Odets play.
16. A meeting of the Spocks
From Star Trek (2009)
Nimoy’s appearance in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek added an enormous amount of gravitas to the reboot. At the end of the film, he shared a scene with his successor as Spock, Zachary Quinto, and said, in essence, “Don’t be so tied to this series’ past that you can’t do new and exciting things.” It’s advice that a lot of Hollywood franchises would do well to heed.
17. Ask yourselves the same question
From Fringe’s “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide” (2011)
One of Nimoy’s last major roles was as a crucial supporting character on Fringe, the sci-fi series co-created by Abrams with his Star Trek writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. Nimoy played William Bell, founder of a powerful biotech company and a crucial figure in the series’ mythology. Over the course of four seasons, Nimoy appeared in both live-action and animated form.