Nov. 28, 1982: Times staff writer John L. Mitchell profiles Horace “Nick” Stewart, who opened the Ebony Showcase Theater with his wife, Edna, in 1950. Stewart used the money from playing Lightnin’ in the 1950s TV series “The Amos n’ Andy Show” to build the theater on Washington Boulevard near La Brea Avenue.
Coming soon: “Frances.” Also at the theaters: “The Last Unicorn,” “Lunch Wagon Girls,” “Tex,” “Still of the Night,” “E.T.,” “Victor/Victoria,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “First Blood.”
During its heyday, the theater staged all-black productions of “No Exit,” “A Streetcar Named Desire and “The Odd Couple” and it featured such noted black actors as John Amos, Al Freeman Jr., Abby Lincoln, Greg Morris and Isabel Sanford, Mitchell said.
But even in 1982, the theater was struggling. “It recently opened after being closed for almost three months because of problems meeting earthquake safety requirements and restrictions imposed by Actors Equity,” Mitchell said, noting that the Stewarts had mortgaged their home to keep the theater running.
By 1996, Stewart and his wife were evicted from the building for not paying most of the rent. The theater and adjoining restaurant, print shop, theater annex and thrift store had been boarded up as the Community Redevelopment Agency prepared to take over the facility.
Stewart, who received a lifetime achievement award from the Beverly Hills/Hollywood NAACP in 1992, died in 2000 at the age of 90.
His son Christopher said Stewart lost the will to live after the theater was torn down. Shortly before his death, Stewart protested the groundbreaking of the Washington Boulevard Performing Arts Center on the site of the Ebony. The facility has since been named the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center in honor of the former city councilman.