President Obama has joined thousands of Americans in mourning the loss of iconic actor Leonard Nimoy, who died today at the age of 83.
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"Long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy," Obama said in a statement released by the White House. "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."
Mr. Obama said Nimoy's signature role as first officer to William Shatner's Captain Kirk on the hit series "Star Trek" defined his career. It also inspired viewers to adopt the character's "cool, logical, big-eared and level-headed" outlook on the world, he said.
Nimoy was "the center of Star Trek's optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity's future," Obama said. "I loved Spock."
The president said he met Nimoy in 2007 and greeted him with "the Vulcan salute, the universal sign for 'live long and prosper.'"
Nimoy was among a crowd of Hollywood celebrities that backed two Obama presidential campaigns. He donated $2,500 to Obama in 2007 and $2,500 in 2012, according to Federal Election Commission records. He was also spotted a several high-profile fundraisers for the president during both election cycles.
"I do believe that President Obama means it when he says that he is 100 percent interested in space," Nimoy told reporters at the National Space Symposium in 2010, according to Space.com. "I know for sure he's a Star Trek fan."
Nimoy died in Bel-Air, Calif., his granddaughter Madeleine Nimoy confirmed to ABC News today. His son Adam told the Associated Press that he died of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
"After 83 years on this planet -- and on his visits to many others -- it’s clear Leonard Nimoy did just that," Obama said, invoking the Vulcan phrase "live long and prosper."