Leonard Nimoy, Recovering Alcoholic, Died at 83

By May Wilkerson 03/02/15

Nimoy had been sober for decades, though it was his smoking habit that caused his long illness.

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Leonard Nimoy
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Beloved actor Leonard Nimoy, best known for playing Mr. Spock in the Star Trek movies and TV series, died last week at age 83. He had been suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, despite quitting smoking three decades ago, he revealed last year.

“Don't smoke. I did. Wish I never had” the actor tweeted last month.

Nimoy also fought a battle with alcohol addiction decades ago, which he partially attributed to working long hours on the set of Star Trek. He said he first started drinking “regularly, ritually” during the second or third year of the series.

"The minute we finished the last shot I would have a drink. Then it became a series of drinks, little by little,” he said in a 2001 interview. “Before I knew it, I was drinking more and more because my addictive personality was taking over."

The pressures of fame exacerbated his addiction, and he began drinking covertly on set. Eventually, he sought treatment in rehab.

He also partially blamed his addiction on the emotional toll of his rocky first marriage, which ended after 32 years. Nimoy said he had been sober ever since falling in love with his second wife, Susan Bay, whom he married in 1987.

Nimoy also reportedly helped his friend and Star Trek co-star, William Shatner, cope with the death of his wife, Nerine, from alcoholism.

Shatner said in 2008 that Nimoy had called him shortly before his marriage: “He said just one sentence, 'Bill, you do know that Nerine is an alcoholic?’... 'I know she is,' I told him. 'But I love her.' Leonard didn't speak for a minute and then he said, sadly, 'Well, Bill, then you are in for a rough ride.'" Shatner’s wife died seven years later by drowning with alcohol and valium in her system.

Since Nimoy’s death, Shatner commemorated his friend on Twitter, calling him “intelligent, insightful” and a “precious gem” of a friend, while accolades poured in from friends, fans, and even President Barack Obama.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.

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