Yes, in case you missed it on the Internet amongst all the talk of what colour a dress is, Leonard Nimoy, the actor most famous for playing Mr. Spock in various incarnations of Star Trek, writing a book called I Am Not Spock (and another called, er, I Am Spock), recording several albums’ worth of music (including a very strange Tolkien-inspired music video) and lending his voice to cartoons (including appearing as himself), shuffled off this mortal coil on Friday. I knew something was up the previous week when he went to hospital, and I expressed hope that he’d be able to carry on at least a bit longer, but sadly, his time had come.
Okay, I admit it, I would know nothing of his other work if it hadn’t been for Star Trek, which remains one of my favourite things in all its incarnations (except the new movies, for which I don’t particularly care), and probably deserves a “Cool Things” post in this blog. Spock, in particular, has always been a hero of mine for his cool, unflappable intellect based on logic and emotional restraint, and the difficulty he has interacting with “normal” people. Many times I’ve written my diary from his point of view — “It’s Wednesday, Jim, but not as we know it” — and even dressed like him, including ear tips, for Halloween 1998 at UMich and New Year’s Eve 2009 at the home of “other female best friend”.
(And, of course, the fact that he can only get laid once every seven years makes him effectively a sex god to me… but then again, the same applies to Cliff Richard!)
However, unlike the other two aforementioned heroes, I’m not in mourning for Nimoy — and indeed, I haven’t felt a pang of sadness seeing him as Spock in the 1960s when watching old Star Trek episodes on CBS Action (or my old Sky recordings, as I harvest ad breaks for uploading to YouTube). I think this is simply because he was a very old man, in his eighties, and he died blamelessly of natural causes (though he did wonder if his former smoking habit may have caused his illness). Plus, of course, I haven’t seen much of his recent work, and instead have been enjoying what he did 50 years ago, when he looked very different from his 21st-century self.
By contrast, Dave Brockie was someone I’d only discovered a year before, and died aged only 50, when he was still performing regularly as Gwar’s lead singer, Oderus Urungus; his music had cheered me up and formed the anthem of a happy time of my life, and the thought that there’d be no more from him — and that I’d never be able to write to him about it — brought me down. Moreover, Robin Williams’ death was truly a tragedy, as being by his own hand it highlighted the terrible issue of suicidal feelings that we’re all too willing to ignore, and that some perceive as weakness.
It also sucked last year to lose Harold Ramis and Rik Mayall, also both before their time… oh, let’s face it, people we like seem to drop like flies — especially those who rose to prominence in or before the 1960s — and we’re lucky to have recordings so that we can continue to enjoy their work. My own roll of the dead includes Kenny Everett, Frankie Howerd, Kenneth Williams, Douglas Adams, Ronnie Barker, Gary Coleman, Bob Monkhouse, Morecambe & Wise, Leslie Nielsen, the first three Doctor Whos (and a number of others from the show, including Nicholas Courtney, Anthony Ainley and Roy Skelton), other Star Trek stars including James Doohan and DeForest Kelley, Eminem’s best friend Big Proof, 2Pac (though I didn’t hear of him until long after he died), Nate Dogg, James Brown, Barry White, two of the Bee Gees, Michael Jackson (despite the controversy that surrounded him in life), Sir Patrick Moore…
(I’m just lucky none of the above have been tainted by Operation Yewtree before they died — it’s bad enough what we learned about Jimmy Saville!)
But let us not cloud the issue: Leonard Nimoy’s gone to the stars, and we’ll all miss him — while at the same time continuing to enjoy his work, and being grateful that he had a good life and a relatively peaceful end… and we’ll go on living, because it’s the only logical thing to do!