Researchers are looking for input regarding the old Ambassador Hotel and neighborhood.
“Common Ground: the Histories of the Ambassador Hotel’s Neighborhood” is a community history project organized by the Studio for Southern California History in partnership with USC, California State University Los Angeles, and the New Open World Academy. The Studio is organizing a series of activities designed to gather and share stories connected with the former Ambassador Hotel, and they want your input!
As many of you know the magnificent 1921 Hotel was demolished in 2006 after a long struggle by preservationists, and replaced in 2009-10 by the Central Los Angeles New Learning Center and the Robert F. Kennedy Inspiration Park.
In the 1920s the Hotel’s Cocoanut Grove nightclub became known as the swanky hangout for such early screen-stars as Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Clara Bow, Rudolph Valentino and Gloria Swanson. The club’s reputation for star-studded glamour extended into the 1960s with Harlow, Gable, Dietrich, Sinatra, Garland, Streisand being just a few of the glitterati to be seen. In 1968 Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in the Hotel’s kitchen.
Besides gathering recollections and documentation about the Ambassador, the Studio also hopes to capture the history of the diverse Wilshire Center neighborhood surrounding the iconic hotel just half a mile east of the Hancock Park area. Specifically, the Studio is addressing the five-block radius bordered by Olympic to the south, Shatto to the east, 2nd Street to the north and Hobart on the west. Certain landmarks as far west as St. Andrews Place will also be highlighted, such as St. James Church.
The Studio is collecting articles and historic images of the Hotel and environs, plus also administering neighborhood surveys and conducting oral history interviews. If you have information or want to schedule an interview you are encouraged to contact the Studio for Southern California History at (213) 229-8890.
This project might be of special interest to some of the octo- or nanogenarian residents in our area. Perhaps Grandma can tell about the time she lent Katherine Hepburn a tissue in the powder room? Or stepped on Ginger Roger’s skirt while dancing? And what about the gigolo?