The death of Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock on the “Star Trek” TV and movie series, touched millions of lives around the world, perhaps none more deeply than fans of science fiction and fantasy for whom Spock was a guiding light.
So it was only fitting that a day after Nimoy’s death at age 83, the Long Beach Comic Expo — a two-day comic book and pop culture convention — celebrated his life and legacy with tributes both big and small.
Not long after the doors opened at the Long Beach Convention Center, thousands of attendees observed a moment of silence while holding up their hands in the iconic Vulcan salute that Nimoy originated. The salute symbolized Spock’s universally known motto, “Live long and prosper.”
“Obviously, when we heard it everybody was floored,” said Gabriel Fieramosco, the expo’s marketing manager who led the morning tribute. “We couldn’t do the weekend without acknowledging it in some way. So after discussing it amongst ourselves, we decided that a moment of silence on the floor was the way to do it.”
Comic book and sci-fi writer Brandon Easton, who attended the expo, recalled bonding with his grandfather, “who basically raised me through watching ‘Star Trek.’ …He [Nimoy] was deeply talented, worked in charity, and was a great role model for anyone, especially those who love science fiction.
“Leonard Nimoy’s passing is a major moment. I didn’t realize how universally beloved he was until he died. Just a wide array of people honoring the man.”
Angela Bell, from Carson, who attended the Expo dressed as Uhura, Nichelle Nichols’ character from the original “Star Trek” series, said she had seen every “Star Trek” episode and movie. “When I found out about it last night, I was really, really upset. People who don’t know anything about ‘Star Trek’ knew about Spock.”
Idalia Mejia, left, Alfredo Garcia Jr. and Richard Casillas pose next to a poster signed by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy on display at the Long Beach Comic Expo. “He actually inspired me to study science,” said Garcia, an engineer, of Nimoy’s character Spock. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Sean Doorly, from Hollywood, who was dressed in a mustard-yellow Starfleet shirt, called himself a big fan of “Star Trek,” “especially the classic. He was beloved by everyone. People have favorites, but everyone liked him.”
Sadly, when Nimoy is laid to rest, his “Star Trek” captain will be absent.
William Shatner took to Twitter to express regret that he will have to miss his co-star and longtime friend’s service, which is scheduled for Sunday in a private ceremony.
“I am currently in FL as I agreed to appear at the Red Cross Ball tonight. Leonard’s funeral is tomorrow. I can’t make it back in time,” he wrote Saturday afternoon. “I feel really awful. Here I am doing charity work and one of my dearest friends is being buried,” Shatner said.
Shatner, who played Capt. Kirk in the TV series and movies, wrote his more than 2 million followers that he was “humbled by the worldwide outpouring of love that has been displayed; words cannot express my feelings.”
After being honored at Red Cross’ Palm Beach event, Shatner hopes to have a memorial for his friend in Florida. “So maybe tomorrow we come together here and celebrate his life,” he wrote.
“I loved him like a brother,” Shatner wrote soon after Nimoy’s death was announced. “We will all miss his humor, his talent, and his capacity to love.”
Another “Star Trek” captain, Patrick Stewart, who played Jean-Luc Picard on the TV spinoff “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” tweeted that he was “lucky to spend many happy, inspiring hours with him.” Chris Pine, who plays Kirk in the franchise reboot of “Star Trek,” tweeted that “the world has become a darker place.”
Among those paying tribute to Nimoy was President Obama, whose cool demeanor and logical approach often drew a comparison to Spock.
“Long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy,” Obama wrote in a statementFriday. “Leonard was a lifelong lover of the arts and humanities, a supporter of the sciences, generous with his talent and his time. And of course, Leonard was Spock.
“In 2007, I had the chance to meet Leonard in person. It was only logical to greet him with the Vulcan salute, the universal sign for ‘Live long and prosper.’”
The tributes to Nimoy weren’t limited to Earth. On Saturday astronaut Terry W. Virts gave the Vulcan hand salute from the International Space Station. And fellow astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti from Italy tweeted, “Live Long and Prosper, Mr. Spock!”