Organizers of San Diego’s Comic-Con International expressed sorrow Friday at the death of Leonard Nimoy, who portrayed the ever- logical Mr. Spock in “Star Trek” on television and on the silver screen.
Nimoy died at his Bel-Air home at age 83. His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, confirmed his death, saying the cause was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Nimoy revealed in recent months he had the disease — chronic bronchitis and emphysema also known COPD — which he attributed to years of smoking, a habit he had given up three decades ago. He was briefly hospitalized last week.
“We were terribly saddened to learn of the passing of Leonard Nimoy,” said David Glanzer, the spokesman for Comic-Con, the annual festival of the popular arts that attracts more than 200,000 attendees to downtown San Diego.
“An always-popular guest at Comic-Con, Mr. Nimoy was a respected and talented actor, director and artist who left a remarkable legacy on popular art the world over,” Glanzer said in an e-mail to City News Service. “He will be greatly missed.”
Nimoy, an Army veteran and journeyman actor with a number of previous movie and television appearances, hit it big in 1966 when he landed the role of the pointy-eared half-Vulcan, half-human Mr. Spock in the original “Star Trek” television series created by Gene Roddenberry.
The show — which ran through 1969 — had modest success in its first run, but cultivated a faithful band of zealous followers dubbed “Trekkies,” many of whom were accumulated through years of re-runs.
The iconic role of Spock, noted by his Vulcan salute in which he spread apart the middle and ring finger on his right hand and his salutation of “Live long and prosper,” was voted by TV Guide one of the top 50 television characters of all-time.
TV executives originally considered dropping the role because they feared the dour character would frighten children away from watching.
He followed “Star Trek” with two years on the drama “Mission Impossible” and was the host on the long-running documentary series, “In Search of…”
He earned a new generation of fans when “Star Trek” moved to the big screen. Nimoy directed two of the films: “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” and “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.”
William Shatner, who played opposite Nimoy as Captain Kirk in the original television series and subsequent films, said, “I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humor, his talent and his capacity to love.”
George Takei, who shared the bridge of the USS Enterprise as Sulu, said the world lost a great man, “and I lost a great friend.”
“We return you now to the stars, Leonard,” Takei wrote on his Facebook page. “You taught us to ‘Live long and prosper,’ and you indeed did, friend. I shall miss you in so many, many ways.”
Zachary Quinto, who portrays Spock in the rebooted “Star Trek” film series, in which Nimoy appeared in a time-traveling role, said he was heartbroken by Nimoy’s death.
“I love you profoundly, my dear friend,” Quinto wrote on his Instagram account. “And I will miss you every day. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
Nimoy initially tried to distance himself from his most famous role, penning a memoir titled “I Am Not Spock.” But he ultimately accepted the fact he would be forever linked with his TV persona, titling a subsequent book, “I Am Spock.”
He continued working, appearing most recently in “Star Trek Into Darkness,” but also in the television series “Fringe” and lending his Spock voice to an episode of “The Big Bang Theory.”
Four days ago, Nimoy’s final post on his Twitter page read, “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.”
He also posted one of his poems, “You and I have Learned,” which concludes with the passage, “The miracle is this, the more we share …, the more, we have.”
He is survived by his wife, Susan; children Adam and Julie; and five grandchildren.
—City News Service