Leonard Nimoy at his 2010 one-person photography exhibition at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Mass.Credit Matthew Cavanaugh for The New York Times
counterpoint to William Shatner’s hotheaded Captain Kirk on “Star Trek.”
Mr. Nimoy, a classically trained actor, had a complicated relationship with his most famous creation, at least in the early days. “It’s all in the ears. Five words. That’s what they want to hear anyway,” he groused to a New York Times reporter in 1968. “Here’s your whole story: It’s all in the ears.”
While the title of his 1975 autobiography, “I Am Not Spock,” was widely misconstrued as hostile toward the character, Mr. Nimoy said, his comfort with his spot in the pop culture firmament was more explicit in his 1995 follow-up: “I Am Spock.”
But the truth is, Mr. Nimoy wasn’t just Spock. A poet, musician, director and photographer, Mr. Nimoy pursued a wide range of creative interests even as he periodically reprised everyone’s favorite Vulcan, including in J.J. Abrams’s recent “Star Trek” films.
Mr. Nimoy moved behind the camera beginning with “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” in 1984. He went on to direct five more feature films, including “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” (1986) and the 1987 blockbuster comedy “Three Men and a Baby.” Mr. Nimoy also directed television projects. (Filmography)
“I found a way to say, ‘I’ll take charge,’ ” he told The Times in 1988. “After I died in ‘Star Trek II,’ I reached for the brass ring for the first time and I didn’t even realize what I was doing.”
Mr. Nimoy recorded several albums, beginning with “Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space” in 1968. “I had a great time doing it,” he said of the record. “I never looked for a recording career.”
Along the way he lent his distinct baritone to a variety of covers of pop hits, including “I Walk the Line,” “Proud Mary,” “If I Had a Hammer,” “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” and “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town.”
But all of the above pale in comparison, at least in terms of notoriety, to the novelty track “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” from 1968:
Mr. Nimoy had a longtime interest in photography that he channeled later in life into several books and exhibitions at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and elsewhere. His specialty was portraiture, often involving the kind of subjects that don’t frequently adorn gallery walls. (The headline of a 2007 New York Times article about his work: Girth and Nudity, a Pictorial Mission.)
A 2010 show at Mass MoCA featured photos of people acting out their “secret selves,” something Mr. Nimoy suggested he knew something about in an interview with The Times.
“So many people have said that the project has made them wonder about whether they have a secret self, and inevitably some of them ask about my secret self,” Mr. Nimoy said. “Are you kidding? I’ve had 60 years of acting out my other selves. Been there, done that.”