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Leonard Nimoy: On TV he was much more than Mr. Spock

A look at Leonard Nimoy's TV roles beyond Spock

Depending on when you encountered him, Leonard Nimoy was always something different. In the '60s, he was a bit player on TV. In the '80s, he was a successful film director. And in the '90s and beyond he was a respected photographer and artist.

But hovering over it all was his role on "Star Trek," both the TV series and the feature film spinoffs, that defined his image.

However, for years before and long after his three seasons on "Star Trek" Nimoy was an actor who appeared in all kinds of shows, including westerns, detective shows and even "The Twilight Zone."

Though he will be forever remembered as Mr. Spock, serving on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise, here are some other TV roles well worth remembering the actor for.

"Mission: Impossible" (1969)

Following the cancellation of “Star Trek” in 1969, Nimoy immediately found work in the ensemble cast of the CBS spy series “Mission: Impossible,” replacing Martin Landau. Nimoy played “The Great Paris,” a master of makeup and disguise, as demonstrated in the Season 5 episode “Butterfly,” in which he played a Japanese man, who spends part of the episode in traditional Kabuki garb. Nimoy, the son of Ukranian Jewish immigrants, had a look that allowed him to play various ethnic roles on television such as a Native American in several western series, including "Tate," and a Latino in "Sea Hunt."

"In Search Of" (1977-1982)

With his notoriety as Spock making him a household name, Nimoy got a chance to step in front of the cameras as himself for the delightfully eerie "In Search Of," a weekly series that attempted to understand such myths and legends as the Loch Ness Monster, Stonehenge, Bigfoot and the Lost City of Atlantis.

Also frightening, Nimoy's brief flirtation with facial hair. As every faithful "Star Trek" fan remembers, a Nimoy with a mustache must be from the evil parallel dimension.

Here is the mustachioed Nimoy discussing the "true story" of the Amityville Horror.

"T.J. Hooker" (1983)

When he wasn't playing James T. Kirk in the "Star Trek" movies in the early 1980s, William Shatner was the veteran LAPD officer T.J. Hooker in the five-season cop series. Nimoy guest starred in the show's second season as Hooker's old partner. Though Shatner and Nimoy appeared together before "Star Trek" in an episode of "Man From U.N.C.L.E.," this was the first time their "Star Trek" connection was apparent.

"The Simpsons" (1993)

The fourth-season episode "Marge Vs. the Monorail" is mostly remembered as being a comedic highpoint in the series and one of the few episodes written by Conan O'Brien. But it's also the first time Nimoy appeared as himself in Springfield. Who can forget his great line: "A solar eclipse. The cosmic ballet goes on." He'd do it again for an episode in 1997.

"Fringe" (2009)

Nimoy's final great TV appearance came in the Fox science fiction series "Fringe," in which he played reclusive scientist William Bell. Though he had just a handful of appearances in the series, including one that was animated, he left a major impact. 

Follow me on Twitter: @patrickkevinday

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