LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Legendary actor Leonard Nimoy was an icon for generations of fans as “Mr. Spock,” but to Julie Nimoy, he was just Dad.
Nimoy in her first interview since her dad’s death revealed exclusively to CBS2’s Lisa Sigell cherished memories about the father she loved, the memories they shared and a final mission she is carrying on for him.READ MORE: Embiid Scores 26, Leads 76ers Past LeBron-Less Lakers, 105-87
“Everyone out there in the world knows him as ‘Spock,’ ‘Star Trek,’ so I thought it was a nice thing to say, ‘Hi, I’m his daughter and he was my dad,’ ” she said.
Nimoy, who shared a home video of him from her first birthday, says her dad put family above all else.
“He’s holding me in his arms. He’s very happy and he’s got a huge smile, and you know I’m just a a little baby,” she said.
As Sigell reports, his kids were his heart, and he would do anything for them.
When smaller roles didn’t pay the bills, Nimoy said her dad did whatever it took to support the family.
“He worked in a tropical fish store. He had vending machines. Drove a taxi,” she said.
But when she was 11, everything changed when he got the role of a lifetime.
She remembers the night the first episode of “Star Trek” aired.
“It was just like, ‘Wow! My dad is on TV. He’s got his costume on.’ And it was just a very joyful night. Very exciting,” she recalls.
Life was changing for the Nimoys.
“At that point, he was not driving the taxi,” she said.
Leonard was becoming a star.
“He was out of the house at 5 in the morning because he had two hours of makeup,” she said.
And once in a while, the makeup would make its way home, or at least the eyebrows.
“They had to shave half of his eyebrows because his eyebrows went up, so yes, he would come home and half his eyebrows would be gone, and his hair, you know, was cut very short … like my bangs,” she said.
As the show got more popular and the family more visible, things got a little tricky.
“Kids in school they would say, ‘Oh, there’s Spock’s daughter,’ ‘He’s on Star Trek.’ And then, ‘Do you have pointed ears? Can we see your ears?’ ” she said.
When her dad created the famous Vulcan salute adopted from a Jewish ritual, Julie mastered it.
“Look, Dad! I got it,” she recalls telling him and he was so proud, she says.
Nimoy says her dad taught their family to be strong and independent but also laugh and love. He also passed his love of animals to her.
“We had turtles. We had rabbits. We had cats and dogs and hamsters and Guinea pigs. He even opened up a pet store in the Valley,” she said.
Yes, Mr. Spock owned a pet shop called Leonard Nimoy’s Pet Pad.
“On opening day of the store, he had an elephant,” she recalls.READ MORE: Community Plants Tree In Honor Of 2-Year-Old Keily Ayala Who Passed Last October In South Park
From flying with her dad to her acting debut in an Oldsmobile commercial, looking through pictures brought the memories back.
For Nimoy and her entire family, Leonard was the rock – stoic but emotional when need be – like the character he played so well.
“He had his serious moments, but he had his emotional, loving, you know, softer part,” she said.
And he used those traits when he revealed to his family that he had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung disease that would eventually take his life.
Experts say smoking is the No. 1 cause of COPD.
Nimoy says when her dad announced he had COPD, it wasn’t easy but he made it his mission to raise awareness.
He did so, she recalls, by going on television and using social media. He even tweeted: “I quit smoking 30 yrs ago. Not soon enough.”
“It takes a very big person to get out there and tell the world ‘I’m human,’ ” she said.
It was then Nimoy and her husband told Leonard they wanted to make a documentary about COPD to carry on his message after watching how it affected him. It will be called “COPD: The Logical Way To Improve Lung Function And Breathe Better.” Click here for more information.
“He couldn’t walk long distances. As it progressed, he needed oxygen. It becomes debilitating,” she said.
The film will be completed this year and will pay tribute to him by exploring those who live with COPD, treatments available, and offering support to those who need it the most,” she said.
“There’s over 14 million people throughout the country that have it, and there’s another 12-13 million that actually have it but they’re unaware that they have it,” said David Knight, Julie’s husband and the co-producer of the film.
This was his final mission, which Nimoy says she will carry on.
“If I can help one person, that would be great,” she said.
She says she’s happy she didn’t take the moments she had with her dad for granted.
“That was our last photograph together,” Nimoy said referring to a picture with her dad. “And we were just sitting in the sun, listening to the waves. I’ll treasure that moment forever. I’m going to miss him.”
She knows the world does, too, and that’s why a piece of her heart is with his fans.
“I love him always,” she said.
Nimoy says she knows her father is watching over her, their family, and this film that he so believed would make a difference.
Manager, Star Trek Archive and Product Development
CBS Broadcasting Inc. / CBS Television Studios Rights and Clearances
Star Trek Clips/Photos from Archive: TM & (C) 2015 CBS Studios Inc. ARR.
Other Photos/Video: Nimoy Family, Julie Nimoy, Adam Nimoy; Robert Perkins Photography Estate photos; TV Star Parade, 1986; CNN.MORE NEWS: Kings Edge Islanders 3-2 For Second Win In Three Games