Leonard Nimoy’s ‘Secret’ Talent: A Look Back at His Intimate Photography Exhibition
Leonard Nimoy passed away today at the age of 83. Back in 2010, the Star Trek legend unveiled an eye-opening portrait show at Mass MoCA called Secret Selves.
Spock is no longer with us.
Leonard Nimoy, who rose to prominence as the pointy-eared Star Trek character Spock, died Friday morning at the age of 83. The actor and philanthropist had recently revealed he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease due to a 30-year addiction to cigarettes.
“Smokers, please understand. If you quit after you’re diagnosed with lung damage it’s too late,” Nimoy tweeted. “Grandpa says learn my lesson. Quit now.”
Nimoy joined the original cast of Star Trek in 1966, and starred in numerous film spin-offs—including J.J. Abrams’ 2009 film—as the genius, nerve-pinching, quasi-emotionless Vulcan. He also starred on two seasons of the television series Mission: Impossible, the highly underrated remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and most recently featured in an arc on the TV show Fringe.
Spock’s Vulcan salute, accompanied by the phrase, “Live long and prosper,” became a lasting symbol of the show. Nimoy, the child of Ukrainian Orthodox Jewish immigrants, reportedly conceived of the sign from childhood memories of the way kohanim (Jewish priests) hold their hands up when bestowing blessings.
Nimoy also had a hidden talent: photography. Back in 2010, he unveiled an exhibition of photo portraits, Secret Selves, at Mass MoCA in his native Massachusetts.
When asked if he’d be appearing in other Star Trek films after 2009’s Star Trek, he laughed.
“You’re talking to a photographer! That’s all over for me,” he told our reporter at the time.
Nimoy described the photo show as a “social experiment,” urging people to pose as their “secret selves”—or alter-egos—yielding fascinating results, with several subjects going so far as posing in the nude.
“To tell you the truth, I feel like I’ve acted out every possible secret self for the last 60 years,” he said. “I’ve done vicious people, honest people, porks—I’ve done all kinds of self.”
You can check out a gallery of Nimoy’s Secret Selves images below.