Spock says farewell to Trekkies in Rosemont

The character of Mr. Spock on “Star Trek” was half human and half Vulcan.

The actor who portrayed him — Leonard Nimoy — proved himself to be all human Sunday as he said farewell to his fans during his last appearance at a “Trek” convention.

“This is hard,” he told the convention crowd at the Westin O'Hare in Rosemont. “I thought it would be, and it is.”

Nimoy said he still owes a couple of professional appearances, so he may pop up from time to time on a soundtrack or on a television or movie screen, but confirmed Sunday this would be his final convention appearance.

“I'm so grateful for the support we have had and the exchange of love that we have had for so many years,” he said.

As expected, he concluded his speech by saying: “May each and every one of you live long and prosper,” before flashing the Vulcan sign with the fingers spread into a V before the audience rose to a standing ovation.

Fans held up signs saying, “We love you Leonard! Live long & prosper.”

“He was very emotional, it seemed,” said Homewood resident Joan Rachowicz, who was at the convention Sunday. “Certainly the words were coming from his heart.”

Rachowicz and her husband, Mike, met Nimoy at a book signing a couple of years ago, where she told him he was like part of their family because he'd been around their house for so many years. She said he replied: “A lot of people tell me that.”

Jonathan Frakes, an actor who portrayed Commander William T. Riker and also directed several “Star Trek” films and TV episodes, said he is skeptical that this will be Nimoy's farewell appearance.

“I think it's a Brett Favre move,” he said, referring to the much retired former Green Bay Packers quarterback. “I'm sure he believes it's his last tour. I don't think he's lying. But I'm sure he can be persuaded to return to the circuit given the right price and incentive.”

Frakes praised Nimoy, saying: “I love him. He is a Renaissance man.”

Frakes said Nimoy has appeared at approximately 125 “Star Trek” conventions and enjoys every one of them, because of the fans and the bonding of old friends.

Nimoy gave a presentation that lasted an hour, tracing his life and career, beginning with his Boston upbringing and continuing through his early appearances in such films as 1952's “Zombies of the Stratosphere,” his struggles to become an actor, and even his stint driving a cab and giving a ride to John F. Kennedy.

Nimoy's big break came in 1966 with the debut of “Star Trek” and subsequent successes as an actor, director and fine art photographer. He talked about his successful attempts to inject bits of business into the series, such as the Vulcan salute, which is rooted in Nimoy's experiences in his Jewish synagogue as a boy.

Nimoy joked about how every time he gives the salute, flashbulbs go off.

At one point, he had trouble getting the slide projector to work and said, “Scotty?”

Aurora resident Tim Urso said seeing Nimoy brought him to tears.

“I grew up watching him at a very young age,” he said. “To be able to see him at least once in my life was truly astounding.”

Images: Sunday at the Star Trek convention in Rosemont

  Leonard Nimoy, who played Mr. Spock on “Star Trek,” tells Trekkies gathered in Rosemont Sunday that this will be his last appearance at a “Trek” convention. George Leclaire/