Millennial Moment – Nick Stewart’s Ebony Showcase Theater


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.

Nov. 28, 1982, Frances
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.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1982, African Americans, Film, Millennial Moments, Stage, Theaters and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Millennial Moment – Nick Stewart’s Ebony Showcase Theater

  1. aryedirect says:

    Once again, a politician wins over artists. I left Los Angeles when the Ebony Showcase was still a thriving, highly respected theatrical venue. Sorry to learn that it no longer exists. Nick Stewart was a beloved figure in the theatrical community. he followed his passion and built something extraordinary. How many of us can say that?


  2. diane says:

    I work with Valarie, She has a new building for the theatre. She is raising money to open the EbonyShow case again. The foundation has never stopped. Please see


  3. I am Valarie Stewart, daughter of Nick & Edna Stewart. The Ebony Showcase Theatre is a 501(c)(3) non profit charity. Please visit our website to learn about our work and projects.


  4. I remember the Ebony Showcase and Nick Stewart. In fact, Micki Grant and I sang alto in an early production. Nichel Nichols, Al Freeman, Dawn Finney, etc. were in the show. I was a music major recently graduated from Fisk University and a music teacher in the LA School District. I left the theater every August to return to my teaching job at 96th St. School.. Nick and Edna asked me to serve as tutor to young Chris, which I greatly enjoyed.
    By the time the play “opened”, I was back at my teaching job. Nichel had been “stolen” as had Al Freeman , for greener pastures . Nick and Edna Stewart should have become millionaires! They were talented, dedicated artistic pioneers who definitely paved the way for such icons as Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee and scores of others. May they both RIP!
    Dr. Carole Hall Hardeman, PhD.


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