Video: The Story Behind Leonard Nimoy's Vulcan Salute
We may have lost Leonard Nimoy today at the age of 83, but the beloved Star Trek star leaves behind some things we'll never forget, like his Vulcan salute paired with the iconic phrase, "Live Long and Prosper."
Nimoy was a man of many talents and was actually the person behind the creation of the V-shaped, four-fingered greeting we had often seen his character Mr. Spock do. In a 2000 interview, Nimoy explained that salute was meant to mimic the Hebrew letter "shin." It was something that he'd seen priests gesture during Jewish services in synagogues when he was a child.
"'Shin' is the first letter of 'Shaddai,' which is the Almighty [God's] name in Hebrew, and the suggestion is that they're using the Almighty symbol—the Almighty's name—to bless the congregation," Nimoy says. "I saw it done as a kid, was entranced by it, learned how to do it and I brought it into the show."
You can see the interview below:
He goes on to explain that he suggested to the director to use the Vulcan hand salute in Star Trek's "Amok Time" episode that aired on Sept. 15, 1967. The premise of this episode was that Mr. Spock had to return back home to Vulcan to marry a fellow Vulcan woman who had been betrothed to him since they were children.
"I'm to greet her and she's to welcome me back to Vulcan—I hadn't been there in quite awhile—and we're supposed to say 'hello' to each other," Nimoy says, "and I suggested to the director that there should be some Vulcan thing that Vulcans do when they greet."
You can watch the entire episode below where the gesture first appeared, but cut to the 26:25-minute mark to see their first-ever salute: