Besides acting on Star Trek, he was known for his directing, writing, photography and music
Star Trek star Leonard Nimoy, whose portrayal of the logical but lovable Mr. Spock captured hearts around the world starting in the late 1960s, died on Friday morning in Los Angeles. He was 83.
He “passed away this morning after a long battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at his home in Bel Air,” his rep confirmed in a statement to PEOPLE.
The actor first announced that he was suffering from the illness last year. “I quit smoking 30 [years] ago,” Nimoy Tweeted at the time. “Not soon enough.”
“Smokers, please understand,” he continued. “If you quit after you’re diagnosed with lung damage it’s too late.”
Nimoy was reportedly hospitalized with chest pains earlier this week.
The actor’s Star Trek co-star William Shatner, 83, was heartbroken on hearing the news. “I loved him like a brother,” said Shatner in a statement to PEOPLE. “We will all miss his humor, his talent, and his capacity to love.”
George Takei, 77, who played Sulu on the series, told Andrea Mitchell Reports on MSNBC: “You know, the word extraordinary is often overused, but I think it’s really appropriate for Leonard.
“He was an extraordinarily talented man, but he was also a very decent human being. His talent embraced directing as well as acting and photography. He was a very sensitive man.”
He added: “He’d been there for a long, long time, and we miss him very much.”
Nichelle Nichols, 82, who played Uhura on the show, said in a statement, “I am deeply saddened by the death of my dear friend Leonard Nimoy. But, I also want to celebrate his extraordinary life. He was a true force of strength and his character was that of a champion. Leonard s integrity and passion as an actor and devotion to his craft helped transport Star Trek into television history. His vision and heart are bigger than the universe. I will miss him very much and send heartfelt wishes to his family.
“Long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy,” said President Barack Obama in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “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. Cool, logical, big-eared and level-headed, the center of Star Trek s optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity s future.”
Added the president: “I loved 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. And after 83 years on this planet – and on his visits to many others – it s clear Leonard Nimoy did just that. Michelle and I join his family, friends, and countless fans who miss him so dearly today.”
Nimoy is survived by his wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, his children and grandchildren. A private memorial service is being planned by the family.
“As you all know, my Grandpa passed away this morning at 8:40 from end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” the actor’s granddaughter, Dani, recently posted on TwitLonger.
She added, “He was an extraordinary man, husband, grandfather, brother, actor, author – the list goes on – and friend. Thank you for the warm condolences. May you all [Live Long and Prosper].
“P.s. I will be putting special shirts up on our site, SHOPLLAP.com, where all of the proceeds will go to the COPD Foundation. I hope to hear from you all.”
“He was a remarkable man, well known not only for his acting and directing, but also for his photography, contemporary art collection, and for his extremely generous philanthropic contributions and support of the arts,” his rep said in a statement. “He will be missed by all.”
Walter Koeing, who played Chekov, called Nimoy an “honorable man.”
“He was totally involved, on the set, in the character of Mr. Spock,” he told Kentucky.com on Friday. “You could hardly approach him any other way. That speaks to his professional integrity as an actor. He also supported a lot of social causes that were for the benefit of mankind in general.”