A new hi-tech theater named after the great Leonard Nimoy is set to open in Westwood, Los Angeles. Tickets for the opening go on sale June 23.

Many know Leonard Nimoy as an iconic actor, and the actor who brought Star Trek’s Mister Spock to life. Some know he was also a successful director and author. He was, however, also a world class philanthropist, and had a fondness for helping real-world theaters come to life.

The newest of the three theaters named for the man who was Spock is the UCLA Nimoy Theater in Westwood. Westwood is an art, cultural, and educational center in Los Angeles, the home of both major movie premieres and the vast UCLA campus. It is being operated by the Center for the Art of Performance and School of Art, the same organization responsible for the world famous Hammer Museum, California, and the beautiful Fowler Museum, both operated by UCLA.

The Majestic Crest began life as a live theater, then was converted into a movie theater. It was an especially beautiful art deco theater that fell into disuse and disrepair after generations. Located near the UCLA campus, the UCLA Nimoy Theater is a reimagining of the historic Crest Theatre as a flexible, state-of-the-art performance space. I like the sound of The Majestic Nimoy Theater, if they want a better name.

Here’s the lobby, looks fun.

The stage, and notice there are murals on the walls. Very holodeck.

The balcony will give a unique perspective on the technology and performers.

Nimoy In Space

The Griffith Observatory is one of the largest, and best attended astronomy education institutions in the world, with almost two million visitors a year. Leonard Nimoy was instrumental in a major upgrade to the Observatory completed in 2006, and created a short film that shows in the theater that bears his name, at sits at the core of the upgraded facility: the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater.

photo by cameron-venti

It’s also where astronomers give talks for the public. A must see for Nimoy completists, the theater features a state of the art sound system and stadium seating.

In The Once and Future Griffith Observatory, Leonard Nimoy details how Griffith Observatory has lived long and prospered. (still capture from The Once and Future Griffith Observatory)

The first theater named after Nimoy is in New York City, and is also a beautiful restoration of a historic theater. It is the famous Thalia theater, often used as a filming location to represent a movie theater in the actual movies.

The Thalia before restoration, when it was used onscreen as a real movie theater in the movies.

The theater in NYC

The Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre houses a variety of performances, including films, live readings, events, musical performances, and more. It opened in 2000.

Philanthropy that supports either live performance or architectural preservation are relatively rare. These gifts from Mr. Nimoy do both. Just as some people don’t know Nimoy’s most successful movie was one of the Transformers films, most people don’t know about his giving for education and preservation. If you’re in New York or Los Angeles it’s definitely worth swinging by, especially in the case of the Griffith Observatory, almost constantly in use as a movie location.

(There is a fan-funded tribute to Nimoy in progress in his birth town of Boston, at the science museum.)

It is nothing short of poetic that someone who rescued people on screen in a theatre comes back in real life to rescue the theatre. The legacy of Leonard Nimoy will touch the lives of performers, film makers and audiences alike for generations to come.


David Raiklen
David Raiklen

David Raiklen wrote, directed and scored his first film at age 9. He began studying keyboard and composing at age 5. He attended, then taught at UCLA, USC and CalArts. Among his teachers are John Williams and Mel Powel.
He has worked for Fox, Disney and Sprint. David has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2004 American Music Center Award. Dr. Raiklen has composed music and sound design for theater (Death and the Maiden), dance (Russian Ballet), television (Sing Me a Story), cell phone (Spacey Movie), museums (Museum of Tolerance), concert (Violin Sonata ), and film (Appalachian Trail).
His compositions have been performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the first Disney Hall. David Raiken is also host of a successful radio program, Classical Fan Club.