From Sulu to Spock

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Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley and George Takei in a scene from the original "Star Trek" series.

Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley and George Takei in a scene from the original “Star Trek” series.

Actor Leonard Nimoy, best known for playing Spock on “Star Trek,” died on Friday at the age of 83.

George Takei, who played Sulu, said in a Facebook post, “Today, the world lost a great man, and I lost a great friend. We return you now to the stars, Leonard. You taught us to ‘Live Long and Prosper,’ and you indeed did, friend. I shall miss you in so many, many ways.”

Nimoy and Takei appeared together in the original “Star Trek” series (1966-1969), the animated series (1973-74), and six movies, from “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” (1979) to “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” (1991).

In an interview with CNN, Takei recalled that Nimoy took a stand when the voice actors were selected for the animated series. The producers initially left out Takei and Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) to save money, but Nimoy said that if they were not included, he would not do the show.

Nimoy’s argument, Takei said, was that “Star Trek” was about diversity and it was wrong to omit the Asian American and African American cast members.

The animated series included one episode that featured Nimoy, Takei and Nichols without the rest of the cast.

Takei added that Nimoy, who had played Dr. Dysart in Peter Shaffer’s “Equus” on Broadway, came to show his support when Takei played the same role in an all-Asian production at East West Players in Los Angeles in 2005, and also came to see Takei’s musical about the internment of Japanese Americans, “Allegiance,” in San Diego in 2012.

Nimoy is among the interviewees in the acclaimed 2014 documentary “To Be Takei.” Though in ill health, Nimoy showed up for a screening of the film last summer — which turned out to be the last time the two actors would see each other.

In addition to Takei and Nichols, the surviving original cast members are William Shatner (Capt. Kirk) and Walter Koenig (Chekov). DeForest Kelley (Dr. McCoy) died in 1999, James Doohan (Scotty) in 2005, and Majel Barrett Roddenberry (Nurse Chapel) in 2008.

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