Leonard Nimoy and the ‘Live Long and Prosper’ Sign

Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy passed away at the age of 83, and fans remembered him many different ways, many of them taking to social media sites to pay tribute to the man and the actor who played iconic roles like Mr. Spock on Star Trek and Dr. William Bell, on Fringe. As Mr. Spock, Leonard Nimoy would greet people or say farewell to them often using a hand sign or gesture, making his fingers into the shape of a “V,” by placing his first and second fingers together, and his third and fourth fingers together. To find out why Leonard Nimoy used this sign, read on!

Leonard Nimoy suggested that Mr. Spock use this greeting, and he also has gone on record saying why, and what the sign, or symbol, personally meant to him. The sign has its origins in Leonard Nimoy’s Jewish heritage, as the letter “V” stands for a letter in the Hebrew alphabet, shin. The letter is the first one in the word “shalom,” or “peace.” By using the hand sign, Leonard Nimoy was expressing basically close to the same sentiment as “Live long and prosper,” by wishing people “peace.”

That is a great way to remember Leonard Nimoy, through knowing that he brought a lot of himself to the role of Mr. Spock. Nimoy could easily relate to what Mr. Spock must have felt like, if he was a real person, trying to fit in among a mostly human crew aboard the Starship Enterprise.

The site Breaking Christian News relates that Leonard Nimoy talked about what it was like growing up in a neighborhood in Boston where “the Jews were a minority,” and he had felt different, or “other,” in that context. He said that “I knew what it was like to be the other in that culture and therefore I could bring that quality to the Spock character.”

This weekend, some media sources pointed out that William Shatner, a friend of Leonard Nimoy’s, said he could not make it to Nimoy’s funeral on Sunday morning. Shatner explained that he had a prior commitment, attending a charity Red Cross Ball to help raise money, in Florida. Much was made of Shanter’s explanation, with him even being called “Captain Jerk” in the headlines of the New York Daily News. He said that his daughters had attended the funeral, and that they had thought of Leonard Nimoy as being like an “uncle” to them.

Also, among other celebs who tweeted their tributes and condolences at the passing of Leonard Nimoy, actress Kirstie Alley was called out by some fans of Star Trek and Nimoy. She had referred to the character of Mr. Spock as, instead, “Dr. Spock” in a tweet. She did make a mistake but she had personally met Leonard Nimoy, and Kirstie Alley had  the character of the Romulan Saavik in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. Saavik was played by the actress Robin Curtis in Star Trek III and she had a brief cameo in Star Trek IV.

Kirstie Alley had been out of the country when Leonard Nimoy passed away, and she was clearly saddened by the news of his death. Some fans called her on her mistake, according to an article in Sunday’s edition of the New York Daily News, but Alley’s sentiments were heartfelt. The fans pointed out that Dr. Spock was an entirely different person, a celebrity pediatrician whose first name was Benjamin.

As Kirstie Alley put it, “The sentiment is the same.” She added “Hard to make gestures on here without Trek police.”

Will Kirstie Alley’s mistake in semantics or William Shatner’s explanation be remembered years from now when fans of Leonard Nimoy look back on his life, or instead, will the roles he played and the type of man he was be remembered the most? Hopefully, Leonard Nimoy will be remembered more for the latter than the former, when people look back on his impact on their lives and on popular culture.

Vulcan neck pinch and the occasional fighting skills that Mr. Spock displayed aside, for the most part, the character of Mr. Spock was one in which logic was at the forefront, rather than any displays of passion or violence. Wishing others to “Live long and prosper,” was the type of character that Mr. Spock, in general, was, and the type of person that Leonard Nimoy was in real life.

Even President Obama in a photo with Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhuru on Star Trek, did the hand sign of the “V” with the actress. President Obama gave the hand sign upon his first meeting with Leonard Nimoy. For a character from a TV series to have that much lasting influence on popular culture is pretty amazing.

Leonard Nimoy, who passed away at the age of 83 and whose funeral was held in Los Angeles on Sunday morning, managed to bring a lot of himself to the character of Mr. Spock and to the roles of other characters he played during his long and distinguished acting career. The hand sign or gesture that he made famous playing Mr. Spock, on the TV science fiction series, Star Trek, helped people relate to the character and make him one of TV’s most memorable characters, despite the original series having only ran for three years.

Written By Douglas Cobb

New York Daily News
Nerd Reactor
Breaking Christian News
Photo By Melody Joy Kramer – Flickr License

2 Responses to "Leonard Nimoy and the ‘Live Long and Prosper’ Sign"

  1. Douglas Cobb   March 2, 2015 at 12:11 am

    Okay–thanks–I was referring to the one sentence that the New York Daily News wrote on her role, which was “Alley portrayed Saavik in “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan” before being replaced by another actress.” That certainly made it seem like, as I was writing the article, that Kirstie Alley had been replaced in the same movie by another actress for some reason or other. I checked the movie’s IMDb page, though, just now, and you are absolutely correct. I will edit the article to reflect that.

  2. memyself   March 1, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    Kirstie Alley played the role of Saavik in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Saavik was played by a different actress – Robin Curtis – in the proceeding two movies in the series.


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