(Joshua Rothman’s article appeared in The New Yorker, 2/27; via Pam Green.)
When I heard, this afternoon, that Leonard Nimoy had died—he was eighty-three—the first thing that came to mind wasn’t Mr. Spock but the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre, which is at Ninety-fifth and Broadway, a few blocks from my apartment. I pass the theatre nearly every day; it hosts films, readings, and musical events. It was built in 1931; in “Annie Hall,” Alvy and Annie go there to watch “The Sorrow and the Pity.” (“Citizenfour” is showing there now.) Nimoy helped fund a renovation that was finished in 2002, and, when you see his name on the marquee, you feel good about humanity.
Spock always played against type. He was supposed to be cold and logical, but he ended up being funny, angry, passionate, loyal, dangerous—even, from time to time, seductive. The same was true of Nimoy. It was a great pleasure to see an actor you’d loved for so long branch out in such surprising ways, writing poetry, recording (terrible) albums, publishing (beautiful) photographs, directing “Three Men and a Baby.” He was always recognizable, with his rich voice, craggy face, and gentle manner, even as he explored new enthusiasms. Some people seem to transform through life, throwing off older, outdated versions of themselves. Nimoy set a different example: he grew, in a slow, natural, and unpretentious way, more capacious.