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Leonard Nimoy leaves behind legacy of arts patronage

Actor Leonard Nimoy, a cast member in
Actor Leonard Nimoy, a cast member in "Star Trek", poses for a portrait in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Sunday, April 26, 2009.
Matt Sayles

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Famed actor Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock on the landmark TV series “Star Trek," died today at the age of 83. 

Most people remember him as an actor, thanks to his portrayal of the pointy-eared vulcan, but he was also an avid photographer, poet and musician. Besides actively performing and creating art, he was also a generous patron who not only collected works, but also contributed to the arts community in Los Angeles. 

In April, he was scheduled to speak about his artistic journey at UCLA’s Royce Hall. The conversation was to be led by Kristy Edmunds, the artistic and executive director of UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance. 

The pair had been collaborating for the past year on the talk as well as a three-day run of Nimoy's play "Vincent" (performed by Jean-Michel Richaud), which tells the story of Vincent Van Gogh through the eyes of his brother, Theo. The Frame's host, John Horn, spoke with Edmunds just hours after Nimoy's death was announced.

Interview Highlights:

You've been working with Nimoy for a year about the April 10 talk you were going to host. How did that event come about?

He told me about his play, "Vincent," about Vincent Van Gogh, and it's told through the lens of Theo, Vincent's brother. We started talking about me presenting and remounting the play. He's so generous, and he would stay after many of the plays and do Q&As and discussions and I said, "Rather than doing that five-to-eight times, why don't we just do a talk about you, the making of the work. And who would you like to interview you?" And he said, 'Well, you, of course." Then I've been nervous basically for over a year. 

What did you learn about Nimoy, about his love of the arts, during the time you worked with him?

Leonard Nimoy, to me, is the embodiment of the greatest part of the human potential. I think most of how he found a way to both express, but also take hold of, community came through the arts. He's a profound advocate, but he's a discerning thinker, he has a profound eye for so many things. His collection, of course, is remarkable. But it's remarkable because it's not the kind of collection you look at and say, This is somebody who's acquiring objects because they will escalate in value. They're an authentic collecting family. 

Is there a way to go forward with the April 10 event, maybe as a memorial, in some way?

Certainly there is...right now [we're] supporting the family, what they want to do, how they want to go about that. I'm sure in some way shape or form there will be a kind of memorial. Right now, I think the biggest, most important thing for the public is to find the outlets of expressing how much they respect and grieve Leonard, but not directly [involving] the family. When I find out more what they want to do, we'll move forward with that. 

What did "Live Long and Prosper" mean to you?

Living long and prospering for me means the prosperity of the continuation of legacy and using our highest and best selves as we wander the planet. He certainly did. I feel so profoundly made better because of him and I know that I am not alone in that feeling. 


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