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Leonard Nimoy is an actor who has played Spock in both the 1960s TV series Star Trek and several movies based on the show.
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After roles on the likes of Dragnet and The Twilight Zone, Leonard Nimoy earned the attention of producer and writer Gene Roddenberry and was cast on Star Trek as Mr. Spock. Star Trek premiered in 1966 and turned Nimoy into a legitimate star. Nimoy has always stayed active as an actor, but his role as Spock from the show and the Star Trek movies appearing over the years dominates his reputation.
Leonard Nimoy was born Leonard Simon Nimoy on March 26, 1931, in Boston, Massachusetts. Nimoy was the youngest child of Max and Dora, Yiddish-speaking Jewish immigrants who had escaped from Stalinist Russia. The family settled in the West End of Boston, where Max was a popular local figure and enjoyed his life as a barber. The young Nimoy brothers -- Leonard and older brother Melvin -- were neighborhood fixtures, and sold newspapers in Boston Common.
The acting bug bit Nimoy early on, and he was just 8 years old when he appeared in his first play. He performed throughout his teen years at Boston's English High School, and after his graduation in 1949, he attended Boston College. While playing the role of Ralphie in a collegiate production of Clifford Odets' Awake and Sing, Nimoy noticed that another Odets play was making a professional, pre-Broadway debut in Boston. After seeking career advice from one of the play's established cast members, Nimoy submitted an application to California's Pasadena Playhouse. He made his way out to the West Coast using money he earned by selling vacuum cleaners.
By the early 1950s, Nimoy was appearing in bit parts in feature films, and his first title role came with 1952's boxing-themed Kid Monk Baroni. After a two-year stretch in the U.S. Army Reserve beginning in 1953, and marrying Sandra Zober in 1954, Nimoy resumed his acting career in 1955. He began studying with Jeff Corey, a highly respected acting coach, and continued to land bit parts on television series and B-movies. During this time, he became a father of two; daughter Julie was born in 1955 and son Adam followed in 1956.
After carving out a niche with day-player roles on the likes of Dragnet, The Rough Riders, Sea Hunt, Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, Dr. Kildaire and Perry Mason, Nimoy's featured role on a 1965 episode of The Lieutenant earned the attention of producer and writer Gene Roddenberry. At the time, Roddenberry was casting for the upcoming sci-fi series Star Trek, and thought Nimoy would be ideal for the role of the stoic, logical, and brilliant science officer known as Dr. Spock. Roddenberry even allowed Nimoy to contribute his own elements to the character. Nimoy developed both the pacifistic Vulcan Nerve Pinch and the two-fingered Vulcan salute; the latter is reportedly based on a Jewish blessing.
Star Trek premiered in 1966, and turned both Nimoy and co-star William Shatner into legitimate stars. The groundbreaking show garnered a steady following (and earned Nimoy three Emmy nominations), but forged an active rivalry between its two competitive leading men.
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Learn more about the stars of the wildly popular Star Trek television and film franchise. Created by Gene Roddenberry in the early 1960s, this otherworldly series debuted on the small screen in '66 and has since seen dozens of installments, most recently the J.J. Abrams-directed Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), starring Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Chris Hemsworth and Zachary Quinto. Learn more about other cast members of the franchise, including William Shatner, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Leonard Nimoy, Patrick Stewart, LeVar Burton, George Takei, Kirstie Alley and Winona Ryder. Who knows, you might even discover your inner-Trekkie.
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