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Leonard Nimoy Urges CFA Grads to “Live Long and Prosper”

Star Trek’s Mr. Spock delivers convocation speech


Leonard Nimoy (Hon.’12), the actor best known as Mr. Spock in the television series Star Trek, beamed onto campus on Saturday to deliver the College of Fine Arts convocation address.

Following an introduction from CFA Dean Benjamin Juarez, who noted Nimoy’s contributions as an “actor, photographer, director, poet, and philanthropist,” the performer approached the podium flashing his now legendary Vulcan sign, which drew a big laugh from the crowd of 1,000 graduates, family members, and faculty and staff gathered at the Track and Tennis Center.

Nimoy began his 20-minute address by recounting stories of growing up in Boston’s now-demolished West End, attending games at the Boston Garden and learning to sail on the Charles River. “I grew up in this great city surrounded by the academia, the arts, and a powerful wave of immigrant energy,” he said, noting how much he continues to love the city.

While Nimoy initially dropped out of college to pursue a career as an actor, he later earned a degree from Antioch College. He stressed to graduates the importance of hard work in achieving success.

“I never worked, I never drank, while I was smoking…wait, I got that backwards,” he said, laughing with the crowd. “I never worked drunk! Oh Scotty, beam me out of here.”

Boston University 139th Commencement 2012, Leonard Nimoy

Students hold their hands up in a Vulcan salute as Nimoy was given an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at Sunday's Commencement. Photo by Melody Komyerov

He recalled working nights as a taxi driver in Los Angeles to support his growing family—a job that allowed him to keep his days open for acting auditions. “One day I picked up future president Jack Kennedy at the Bel Air Hotel,” he said. “We chatted about careers, politics, and show business…Kennedy said, ‘Lots of competition in your business, just like mine.’ And then he gave me this: ‘There’s always room for one more good one.’ Words to live by, and I tried to do that.” The story clearly resonated with the graduating students.

Nimoy reminded students that he didn’t become a successful actor until age 35, when he was cast in a new television series, Star Trek, in 1966. Despite its short run (the series was canceled in 1969), the show became ingrained in American pop culture. Nimoy continued to play the character in more than a half dozen Star Trek movies and directed the 1986 film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. He has also acted on Broadway and currently appears in the popular Fox sci-fi series Fringe.

As he concluded his address, Nimoy told the Class of 2012, “You are the creators and curators of your own lives. Give us the best of your art. We crave it, we hunger for it.” In a nod to his iconic role, he ended by adding “And of course, live long and prosper.” With that, he gave graduates the Vulcan salute. They returned the favor with a standing ovation.

On Sunday, Nimoy was given an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the University’s 139th Commencement.

Shaw Hubbard also contributed to this story.

Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

6 Comments on Leonard Nimoy Urges CFA Grads to “Live Long and Prosper”

  • Michael Maso on 05.22.2012 at 7:42 am

    He said he “picked up former president Jack Kennedy” in a cab? Wish it could have been true, but only in an alternative universe. Maybe he said “future” president?

    • Mike on 05.22.2012 at 10:10 am

      hey buddy… jack is a nickname for john.

  • Amy Schneider on 05.22.2012 at 11:01 am

    Listen to the webcast. At about 8:40 into it, Mr. Nimoy says “future.” He was mis-quoted above.

  • Amy M Laskowski on 05.22.2012 at 11:26 am

    JFK is a former president. Nimoy’s story was referring to him as a future president, and I fixed the quote above to show that. Thanks for catching.

  • Alan on 05.29.2012 at 2:15 pm

    Congratulations Mr. Nimoy! I am surprised that his photography work was not discussed in the story. Nevertheless, his longevity in the entertainment profession is a testimony to his talent and to the enduring power of Star Trek. Live long and prosper!

  • Star Trek Quotes on 02.05.2013 at 3:01 pm

    Congrats to Mr. Nimoy – this is so awesome. Live long and prosper everyone!

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