Leonard Nimoy, known worldwide as Spock from “Star Trek,” died today at age 83 of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was also a director, author, poet, photographer and philanthropist with ties to UCLA.
Nimoy and his wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, have been longstanding supporters of the Hammer Museum at UCLA and of UCLA’s performing arts presenting organization, the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA (CAP UCLA). They have been major supporters of the center’s Artist-In-Residence and Artist Fellow programs.
This April CAP UCLA presents Vincent, performed by acclaimed French actor Jean-Michel Richaud, an intimate theater work about Vincent Van Gogh written (and originally performed) by Nimoy in the late 1970s. A planned April 10 artist talk in Royce Hall between Leonard Nimoy and Kristy Edmunds, artistic and executive director of CAP UCLA, has been cancelled. Refunds are available by calling the UCLA Central Ticket Office at 310-825-2101. Ticketholders may also choose to forgo a refund and contribute the ticket funds to the Center’s Artist-in-Residence program in Leonard Nimoy’s name.
“Through his works of art, works of philanthropy and advocacy, Leonard Nimoy leaves behind a legacy of profound impact,” Edmunds said. “Leonard and Susan have shown an extraordinary belief in the public arts at UCLA. And as contributors to CAP UCLA’s residency and fellow programs have specifically shown support for an artist’s practice and process, not just the resulting work. This helps sustain artistic inquiry, which is critical for great art to ever come to light.”
Nimoy was born in Boston and came to California at age of 18 to study acting. In 1949 he co-founded Orchard Gables Repertory Company, billed as “the first professional theater in Hollywood.” Highlights of the company’s two-year tenure included a successful run of “Dr. Faustus” starring Nimoy in the title role. He studied photography with Robert Heinecken at UCLA Extension in 1971.
After gaining fame as the Vulcan character Spock, Nimoy went on to direct six films, including two installments of the “Star Trek” film franchise as well as the comedy “Three Men and A Baby.” He wrote two books that delved into his experience of becoming so deeply associated with of the most iconic characters in pop culture history. He wrote seven poetry anthologies, co-created a comic book series with Isaac Asimov, recorded several music albums and from 1977-1982 hosted “In Search Of ...,” a TV series about the paranormal. In 2003 he began focusing primarily on his photography. His most recent Los Angeles exhibit was “Secret Selves” in 2009.