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Wilshire Ebell Theatre

4400 Wilshire Blvd. and 4401 W. 8th St. Los Angeles, CA 90005 | map |

Opened: 1927 with a production of Sigmund Romberg's "Desert Song." It's four blocks west of Crenshaw on the south side of the street. We're looking at the entrance on 8th St. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010 

Phone: 323-939-0126     Website:

Architects: Sumner P. Hunt and Silas R. Burns designed the building for the Ebell of Los Angeles Women's Club.

Seating: 1,270 currently. In 1949 it was listed as 1,294 with 911 of that on the main floor and 383 in the balcony. 

Stage Specifications: 
Proscenium: 40' wide x 30' high
Stage wall to wall: 85'
Footlights to curtain: 5'
Curtain to backwall: 30'
Grid height: 60'
Flyfloor: stage right
Counterweight system: T-track, operated at stage level stage right
Power: In 1949 both AC and DC

Some of the data comes from the 1949 ATPAM Theatre, Arena & Auditorium Guide. Thanks to Bob Foreman for putting the publication on his Vintage Theatre Catalogs blog.

Status: The club is thriving and the theatre as well as other ballrooms and meeting spaces are rented out for a variety of events. The organization does no presenting. It's exclusively a rental venue.

History: This club and theatre, located in the affluent Hancock Park area, has always been a popular venue for a variety of events.

Judy Garland (then Francis Gumm) supposedly had her first audition at the Wilshire Ebell and was later "discovered" while performing here. In 1937 Amelia Earhart made her last public appearance at the Ebell before embarking on her last flight.

The theatre was known in the late 20s and early 30s as the Windsor Square Theatre, 4401 W. 8th St. and the address has also appeared as 743 S. Lucerne Blvd. 

An ad for the Ebell as the Windsor Square Theatre. It was a find of Ken McIntyre on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles. The show was "Pierre of the Plains" with the note: "Not a Movie."

The Ebell in the Movies: 

When Ritchie Valens (Lou Diamond Phillips) goes to New York to play the Brooklyn Paramount in the Luis Valdez film "La Bamba" (Columbia, 1987), the Wilshire Ebell is used for the interiors. For the exterior views the film uses some footage of the Wiltern that was shot for "American Hot Wax" in 1977. See the Theatres in Movies post for more views of the Ebell from the film.

The Ebell on Television: This club, with its great variety of spaces, is a favorite shooting location and has appeared in "CSI: Miami" and "Mad Men." 

The Wilshire Ebell lobby. Photo: Dave PD - Photos of Los Angeles - 2003  

A peek in from the rear of the main floor. Photo: Dave PD - Photos of Los Angeles -  2003

A main floor view from the Ebell Club website.

A closer look at the proscenium. Photo: Marianne Lozano Photography / Biz Bash

Another main floor view. Photo: Davd PD - Photos of Los Angeles - 2003   

The rear of the auditorium. Photo: Dave PD - Photos of Los Angeles - 2003. Thanks, Dave!

Another look to the rear. Photo: Marianne Lozano Photography / Biz Bash

Under the balcony. Photo: Marianne Lozano Photography / Biz Bash 

The view across the Ebell auditorium at balcony level. Photo: Wendell Benedetti - Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation - 2015. Thanks, Wendell! The photo originally appeared on the LAHTF Facebook page.

A stage view from the balcony. Photo: Marianne Lozano Photography / Biz Bash

Offstage right. Photo: Bill Counter - 2017

A c.1927 Mott Studios photo looking across the theatre's balcony from the California State Library collection.

More exterior views:

A 1927 Herald Examiner photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. We're looking south from Wilshire with the main building in front, the theatre in back.

The east side of the building as we look north toward Wilshire. It's a c.1927 Mott Studios photo in the California State Library collection.

Another shot from the Mott Studios in the California State Library collection, this time looking southwest from Wilshire.

The Library's collection includes these c.1927 Mott Studios photos of the building: 1 courtyard photo - #001385922 | 2 courtyard photos - #001386168 | 4 lounge photos - #001386234 | 7 photos: lounge, exterior views - #001416450 | 1 corner exterior photo - #001424635 | 3 photos: courtyard and exterior - #001535358 | 16 photos: 1 of theatre + other areas - #001535367 | Also: Wilshire facade -  William Reagh - 1989

A 1929 photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.

Another 1929 view from the Herlick Studio that's in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. The theatre entrance is over on the left.

A 1937 view by Dick Whittington when the theatre was known as the Windsor Square Theatre. It's in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. The USC Digital Library also has a copy, where they date it as 1939.

A 1939 Herald Examiner photo of a house moving project with the Ebell in the background. It's in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.

Thanks to Richard Wojcik for this 1954 view of the Ebell from his collection. It was a post on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles.

A 2003 entrance shot from Dave PD on Photos of Los Angeles.

The Wilshire side of the Wilshire Ebell building. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

Along the Lucerne side of the building. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

The corner at Wilshire and Lucerne Blvd. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010  

A view of the theatre entrance by Martin on his great site You-Are-Here. Also see his view of the Lucerne St. side of the building. See the site's Wilshire Boulevard index page for links to many more explorations Martin has done along Wilshire. There's also a theatre index page for the many theatre photos he's taken.

A roof sign shot from Corey Miller's great Wilshire Center / Hancock Park / Miracle Mile photo set on Flickr.

The site Public Art in Los Angeles has this Don Howe photo along with a daytime view on their Wilshire Ebell page. See their Neon Signs Along Wilshire Boulevard page for an index to many photos on the site.
More Information:
See Jennifer Steinhauer's August 2010 New York Times Article "A Sanctuary for Women, Even Today" for a nice history of the club and its activities.

Danni Bayles Yeager's Performing Arts Archive has a program for a 1940 production of "Our Town" at the Wilshire Ebell.

There's a nice post (#3500) on Noirish Los Angeles with photos and discussion of the Ebell. And check in with post #3508 and post #3509 for photos of other Ebell clubs in the Los Angeles Area.

There was an earlier Ebell Club at 1719 S. Figueroa St. downtown. And one even before that on Broadway. Prior to the Broadway clubhouse, the ladies evidently had a rental adjacent to a church.  There was also an Ebell Club in Long Beach. The theatre at that club got rented out to become a commercial movie theatre, the Metro.

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