Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Nimoy spent much time in live theater, and appeared as a guest star in many television shows. One of his better-known roles was that of Tevye the dairyman, in the musical Fiddler on the Roof, based on the series of short stories by Yiddish author Sholom Aleichem.
From 1953 to 1955, Leonard Nimoy also served in the U.S. Army Reserve. His service number was ER 11 229 770. He received final discharge in November 1955 as a Sergeant. According to the National Archives and Records Administration, Leonard Nimoy's U.S. Army service record was destroyed in the 1973 National Archives Fire.
Nimoy's most famous role is the half-Vulcan, half-human named Spock from the original Star Trek television series (1966-69). He earned three Emmy nominations for playing this character. Nimoy went on to reprise Spock's character in a voice-over role in Star Trek: The Animated Series, in two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and in six Star Trek motion pictures featuring the original cast. ,
Following the cancellation of the original Trek, Nimoy played a spy called Paris in the hit television series Mission Impossible from 1969-71. He co-starred with Yul Brynner and Richard Crenna in the Western movie Catlow (1971). Nimoy also appeared in various made for television films in this period such as Assault On The Wayne (1970), Baffled (1972), The Alpha Caper (1973), The Missing Are Deadly (1974), Seizure: The Story Of Kathy Morris (1980), Marco Polo (1982) and he received an Emmy award nomination for best supporting actor for the TV film A Woman Called Golda (1982). In the late 1970s he hosted and narrated the television series In Search Of..., which investigated paranormal or unexplained events or subjects. It was during this time that Nimoy won acclaim for a series of stage roles as well. He has appeared in such plays as Oliver!, The King And I, The Man in the Glass Booth, Caligula , and Sherlock Holmes .
After directing a few television show episodes, Nimoy broke into film directing in 1984 with the successful third installment of the Star Trek film series (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock). Nimoy would go on to direct Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) and move beyond the Trek universe with Three Men and a Baby in 1987.
Nimoy has written two autobiographies, the first one called I Am Not Spock (1977). The title of this book was controversial, as many fans incorrectly assumed that Nimoy was distancing himself from the Spock character; however, Nimoy's stated intention was merely to remind the public at large that Spock and Nimoy were not one and the same.
His second autobiography was entitled I Am Spock (1995), and this title was meant to communicate that he finally realized that his years of portraying the Spock character had led to a much greater identification between the fictional character and the real person. Over the years, Nimoy had much input into how Spock would act in certain situations, and, conversely, Nimoy's contemplation of how Spock acted gave him cause to think about things in a way that he never would have thought if he had not portrayed this character. As such, in this autobiography Nimoy maintains that in some meaningful sense, he really is now Spock, and Spock is him, while at the same time maintaining the distance between fact and fiction.
During and following the Star Trek years, Nimoy also released several albums of vocal recordings, including Trek-related songs and cover versions of popular tunes. These recordings are generally regarded as being unintentionally campy, though his tongue-in-cheek performance of "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" received a fair amount of airplay when the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings films were released in the early 2000s.
Nimoy has long been active in the Jewish community, and is an adherent of Reform Judaism. In 1997 he narrated the documentary A Life Apart: Hasidism in America, about the various sects of Hasidism Orthodox Jews.
In October 2002 Nimoy published Shekhina , a photographic study of women intended to visualize the feminine aspect of God's presence, inspired by Kabbalah (esoteric Jewish mysticism.) In 2003, he announced his retirement from acting in order to concentrate on his photography, but has subsequently appeared in several popular TV commercials with buddy William Shatner for Priceline.com .
Filmography as director
- Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)
- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
- Three Men and a Baby (1987)
- The Good Mother (1988)
- Funny About Love (1990)
- Holy Matrimony (1994)
- Nimoy came up with the Vulcan neck pinch during the discussion of an early Star Trek episode where Spock was supposed to pistol-whip another character. He suggested the "pinch" as a illustration of Vulcan's mysterious powers.
- Nimoy also devised the Vulcan Salute consisting of a raised hand, palm forward with the fingers parted between the middle and ring finger. It is said to be based on a rabbinical blessing with both hands, thumb to thumb in this position, representing the Hebrew letter shin (ש). Nimoy also coined the accompanying spoken blessing, "Live long and prosper."