Los Angeles

Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy has been buried in Los Angeles in a small, private funeral.

Nimoy, 83, died on Friday of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which is often caused by smoking. It is Jewish tradition for the dead to be buried within 24 hours but, as the practice is forbidden on a Saturday, the actor was laid to rest on Sunday.

However, his Star Trek co-star William Shatner was unable to attend. ‘I feel really awful,’ tweeted the actor, who was committed to attend a Red Cross ball in Florida on Saturday night and could not fly back in time for the service. ‘Here I am doing charity work and one of my dearest friends is being buried.’

The star, also 83, received criticism for not rearranging his plans, but defended his decision online. ‘I chose to honour a commitment I made months ago to appear at a charitable fundraiser. A lot of money was raised,’ he said. ‘So here I am; tell me off.’ He added that his daughters Melanie and Lisabeth would attend the funeral.

Speaking at the Red Cross ball, the actor, who played Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek series, paid tribute to his former co-star. ‘He had a good, long life,’ Shatner told Local 10 news. ‘He did a lot of things. He inspired a lot of people. He was loved by a lot of people and he loved a lot of people.’

‘It’s sad that you have to be reminded that life is that short.’ Nimoy was most famous for playing Spock, the science officer and first officer on Star Trek’s Starship Enterprise. But his career also took in acting, directing, writing and photography. The tributes were led by President Obama, who said in a statement: ‘Long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy.

‘Leonard was a lifelong lover of the arts and humanities, a supporter of the sciences, generous with his time and talents. ‘And of course, Leonard was Spock. Cool, logical, big-eared and level-headed, the centre of Star Trek’s optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity’s future.’

The details of Nimoy’s memorial service were deliberately kept private, foiling the Westboro Baptist Church, which had planned to picket the event. The group is known for its aggressive campaigning, often protesting outside the funerals of celebrities and servicemen and women. However, the church tweeted on Sunday it could not locate the actor’s funeral and was cancelling its plans.