Students + Campus

Half a century of history at Pauley Pavilion

For Pauley’s 50th birthday, UCLA looks back on how the arena hosted history

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Pauley Pavilion, UCLA’s storied venue for everything from basketball championships to presidential debates, on Thursday marks the 50th anniversary of its grand-opening event – UCLA graduation on June 11, 1965.

UCLA athletes have earned a nation-leading 112 NCAA team championships, and 40 of those titles have been won by teams that call Pauley home: women’s and men’s basketball, gymnastics and volleyball. Read the athletics story.

Pauley Pavilion has also hosted awards shows, concerts ranging from the Grateful Dead to Jay-Z, and visits from presidents, nobel laureates and the Dalai Lama. On Friday, the UCLA Class of 2015 will celebrate its commencement with two ceremonies.

A brief look at Pauley’s history.

1. Groundbreaking, 1964

Chancellor Franklin Murphy, basketball coach John Wooden, and the building's eponymous donor, UC Regent Edwin Pauley, at the groundbreaking ceremony for Pauley Pavilion.
UCLA Library

We’re pretty sure they didn’t dig that hole with a shovel. Chancellor Franklin Murphy, basketball coach John Wooden and the building’s eponymous donor, UC Regent Edwin W. Pauley, appear at the groundbreaking ceremony for Pauley Pavilion. 

 

2. Construction, 1964–65

Pauley Pavilion under construction
UCLA Library

The bones of Pauley begin to take shape. This photo looks east and shows a staggering amount of parking by modern Bruin standards.

 

3. Opening, 1965

Pauley Pavilion, 1965
UCLA Library

Pauley opened in June next to Ackerman Union, pictured with its old façade.

 

4. First royal visit, 1966

Regent Edward W. Carter and UCLA's Clark Kerr joined Britain's Prince Philip on stage to present an honorary law degree to Queen Elizabeth’s husband in 1966. Prince Philip spoke at UCLA Charter Day, celebrating the 98th anniversary of the University of California.
UCLA Library

Regent Edward W. Carter and UC’s Clark Kerr joined Britain’s Prince Philip on stage to present an honorary law degree to Queen Elizabeth’s husband. Prince Philip spoke at UCLA Charter Day, celebrating the 98th anniversary of the University of California.

 

5. Bob Hope, 1967

Bob Hope flanked by UCLA cheerleaders
UCLA archives

Bob Hope came to campus to film a special episode of “The Bob Hope Show” inside the still-new Pauley. The show included a sketch with Hope playing a UCLA football recruit refusing to suit up.

 

6. Dr. Spock, 1968

Dr. Benjamin Spock speaking to UCLA students at an anti-war rally
UCLA archives

Dr. Benjamin Spock spoke to students during an anti-war rally. Though the pediatrician is best known for his book of baby advice, he was also a prominent activist in the anti-Vietnam War movement.

 

7. Check out those cars!

1960s cars parked outside Pauley
UCLA archives

Some stylish cars — and some very dented student rides — parked in a lot that is long-since gone. The exact year is unknown, but even in the 1960s students complained about parking too far from classes.

 

8. Frank Zappa and the Philharmonic, 1970

Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Zubin Mehta and rock musician Frank Zappa, May 8, 1970
UCLA archives

Rock musician Frank Zappa, right, is pictured with Zubin Mehta, then-conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. The pair combined their two musical styles in concert at Pauley (not shown).

 

9. 1984 Olympics

Men's gymnastics at the 1984 Olympics inside Pauley Pavilion
Los Angeles Public Library

The UCLA campus transformed for the 1984 Olympics, hosting tennis, track and field and an Olympic Village. The gymnastics competitions took place in Pauley Pavilion, where the U.S. men’s team won gold for the first time. More than 160,000 spectators watched events from Pauley’s stands.

 

10. Desmond Tutu, 1985

Desmond Tutu in 2007 in Cologne
Elke Wetzig/Wikimedia Creative Commons

Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu delivered an anti-apartheid speech to student activists in 1985. “Don’t let anyone delude you into believing that what you do today is of little moment,” Tutu told the crowd. (Photo is not Pauley Pavilion.)

 

11. Carol Burnett and Elizabeth Taylor, 1986

On April 29, 1986 at a 53rd birthday celebration for Carol Burnett, the comedic Bruin alumna was joined by guest Elizabeth Taylor at Pauley Pavilion.
Los Angeles Public Library

At her 53rd birthday celebration, UCLA alumna Carol Burnett, right, visited with guest Elizabeth Taylor.

 

12. AIDS awareness, 1988

Panels of the seven-ton patchwork quilt, which memorializes those who have died of AIDS, hang from the ceiling and have been placed on the floor inside Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus in preparation for a fund-raising event. At the time this photograph was taken in April 1988, more than 800 volunteers had worked on the Names Project quilt.
Los Angeles Public Library

UCLA hosted a benefit honoring victims of AIDS. As part of the fundraiser, panels of the National AIDS Quilt, memorializing those killed by the syndrome, rested on the floor and hung from the ceiling.

 

13. Bush-Dukakis presidential debate, 1988

Presidential candidates George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis met for their second and final debate in 1988.
UCLA archives

Presidential candidates George H.W. Bush, left, and Michael Dukakis met for their second and final debate in October. Organizers gave UCLA six days notice, during which the campus scrambled to turn Pauley into a television studio.

 

14. Ella Fitzgerald, 1989

Ella Fitzgerald at UCLA
UCLA Daily Bruin archives

Singer Ella Fitzgerald was awarded the Gershwin Award at UCLA’s student-run Spring Sing. Ray Charles accepted the Gershwin Award in 1991.

 

15. Henry Mancini, Julie Andrews and Luciano Pavarotti, 1994

UCLA alumnus and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley; composer Henry Mancini; UCLA Chancellor Charles E. Young.
UCLA archives

Pauley became a star-studded party venue at a 70th birthday tribute to composer Henry Mancini. The event raised $2.1 million for arts education and featured performances and speeches by Luciano Pavarotti, Julie Andrews, Quincy Jones, Dudley Moore, John Williams and others. Pictured: UCLA alumnus and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, Mancini and UCLA Chancellor Charles E. Young.

 

16. President Bill Clinton, 1994

President Bill Clinton with UCLA Chancellor Charles Young, 1994
UCLA archives

President Bill Clinton, with Chancellor Charles E. Young, spoke at UCLA’s 75th anniversary convocation.

 

17. Dalai Lama, 1997

The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso in Antwerpen, Belgium 2006
Yancho Sabev/Wikimedia Creative Commons

UCLA Extension brought the Dalai Lama to campus for a three-day course. During his visit, the Dalai Lama spoke to students in Pauley (not shown). 

 

18. Cookie Monster, 2005 

Alumnus Gary Knell spoke at graduation in June 2005. As CEO of Sesame Workshop, Knell brought Cookie Monster for a special appearance before the Pauley Pavilion crowd.
Scott Quintard, ASUCLA Photography

Alumnus Gary Knell spoke at graduation in June. As CEO of Sesame Workshop, Knell brought Cookie Monster for a special appearance.

 

19. Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and ‘Yes, we can!’ 2008

Obama Rally: Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Caroline Kennedy and Maria Shriver are among the celebrities chanting “Yes, We Can," at UCLA.
Steve Toyoshima (Flickr)

Michelle Obama, Caroline Kennedy, Maria Shriver and Oprah Winfrey were among the celebrities chanting “Yes, we can” at a campaign rally for Barack Obama in February. 

 

20. Jay-Z and Rihanna, 2009

Flier advertising the Jay-Z concert at UCLA in 2009
UCLA archives

Rap superstar Jay-Z performed in a show that also included sets by N.E.R.D., J. Cole and Wale. The concert included a surprise appearance by Rihanna, singing her vocal on Jay-Z’s hit from that summer, “Run This Town.” 

 

21. Grand opening celebration, 2012

Pauley Pavilion closed in 2010 for a two-year makeover. Watch Los Angeles join the party for the reopening in 2012.

 

22. New main entrance, 2012

Pauley Pavilion, north entrance
Reed Hutchinson/UCLA

When Pauley reopened in October, there was a new glass-walled concourse and many improved amenities.

 

23. John Wooden in bronze

UCLA statue of Coach John Wooden
Adam Fagen, Flickr

Outside the new main entrance, Coach Wooden is immortalized.

 

24. New student welcome, 2013

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block welcomes new students in 2013
Christelle Snow/UCLA

After Pauley reopened, Chancellor Gene Block welcomed incoming freshmen and transfers during student welcome week.

 

25. A flood in the middle of a drought, 2014

UCLA Facilities Management crew sweeps water away from Pauley Pavilion on July 29, 2014, following  water main break on Sunset Boulevard
ajstream/Creative Commons

A city water main burst on Sunset Boulevard in July and inundated the campus with an estimated 20 million gallons. Pauley was flooded and required extensive repairs.

 

26. Dance Marathon, 2014

Dance Marathon, April 2014
Hom Photography

UCLA’s annual 26-hour Dance Marathon grew so large that it moved into Pauley for the first time. The fundraiser to fight pediatric AIDS raises hundreds of thousands of dollars a year (nearly $4 million during its 14-year existence).  

 

27. Commencement 2014

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Randy Schekman and UCLA Chancellor Gene Block at graduation 2014
UCLA

Bruin legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with Chancellor Gene Block at graduation in 2014, where Nobel laureate Randy Schekman delivered the keynote address and received the UCLA Medal.

 

28. Spring Sing, 2015

The dance group ACA Hip Hop performing at Spring Sing 2014
Hom Photography

The dance group ACA Hip Hop, pictured above in their 2014 performance at Spring Sing, performed again in 2015 and took home the Bruin Choice Award.

 

29. It’s all about the students

Class of 2014 commencement
UCLA

Pauley Pavilion is a center of student activity on campus. Graduates of the UCLA College all end up there. For the Class of 2015, that day has arrived. #UCLA2015

 

30. Happy 50th, Pauley Pavilion!

UCLA's Pauley Pavillion
Reed Hutchinson/UCLA

 

31. We honor Pauley’s athletes as well. Watch a video by UCLA Athletics.

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