Leonard Nimoy, best known for playing Spock on the television show Star Trek and its movies, passed away in his home on Friday. He was 83.

The cause of his death was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which the actor confirmed he had last year.

Nimoy was born in 1931 in Boston. His parents were Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Union in an area that is now part of Ukraine. He acted in several amateur productions as a child and then began his movie and TV acting career in 1951.

In 1952, he played the title role in the boxing movie Kid Monk Baroni. Although his acting was praised, the movie was a flop, and Nimoy spent over a decade playing largely bit parts in both TV and movies, including roles in Dragnet, Perry Mason and The Twilight Zone.

In 1965, Nimoy passed on a role in Peyton Place to take a part in Gene Roddenberry’s TV show Star Trek – and the rest was history. Unique among most TV shows, Star Trek actually had two pilots. NBC liked aspects of the first pilot, “The Cage” but had some issues and asked Roddenberry to shoot a second pilot. Mr. Nimoy’s Spock, half-human, half-Vulcan, was the only character to appear in both pilots. (Something that became a plot point for the two-parter “The Menagerie” which followed up on the original pilot.)

Nimoy’s Spock became a cultural phenomenon. Characterized by an emotionless devotion to the Vulcan ethos of logic, Spock was an inspiration to a generation of fans and became well known to the public at large. Nimoy had a large part in shaping the character into someone who was non-violent (Nimoy developed the Vulcan nerve pinch as an alternative to punching), ethical, intellectual, and compassionate.

Nimoy and the character came back in the Star Trek animated series, six Star Trek movies, the spinoff Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the two rebooted Star Trek movies directed by J.J. Abrams.

Nimoy continued acting after Star Trek with a starring role in Mission: Impossible and a number of smaller parts (including one of the best murderers on Peter Falk’s Columbo series). He also directed several movies, including two Star Trek films and Three Men And A Baby. He was also a prolific writer of poetry and a photographer, and published several works of each.

Mr. Nimoy is survived by his wife, Susan Bay Nimoy; his children, Adam and Julie Nimoy; his grandchildren; and legions of fans.

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