American Legion Hollywood Post 43 Home to a Piece of Old Hollywood
Right at the bottom of the South bound Highland Exit of the 101,
just after the Hollywood Bowl, up the hill from Hollywood & Highland, and a few short blocks around the corner from the
Chinese Theatre is one of the most interesting landmarks in all of Hollywood. It's the American Legion Post 43.
The Post’s historical memorial clubhouse has been a Hollywood landmark since 1929. Over the years members have included such Hollywood luminaries as Clark Gable, Charlton Heston, Mickey Rooney, and Ronald Reagan. And on top of all that it houses the longest continuously operating speakeasy in Hollywood.
If you've ever driven along Highland Blvd. near the Hollywood Bowl you can't have missed it. It's a three story, 35,000
square foot Moorish Revival/Art Deco structure which was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1989. Although it doesn't appear to be that big from the outside, the impressive venue houses a 480-seat, state-of-the-art digital and film cinema theater, a 50-seat lecture/performance hall, a 400-person capacity banquet hall, a stage, a dance floor, a 125-person capacity historic Art Deco Bar, a billiard room, lounges, a VIP/green room, and several indoor and outdoor reception spaces with a full commercial kitchen. It's diminutive facade is more misleading than the one decorating the Magic Castle just a few blocks to the east.
Known as "the Legion Post of the stars", World War I veterans in Los Angeles who worked in the motion picture business chartered the Hollywood Post in 1919. Their goal was to be of service to the community, state, and nation and to help their fellow veterans suffering badly from the effects of the Great War. Classic Hollywood luminaries, veterans and nonveteran supporters (like C.B. DeMille, Adolph Menjou, and Mary Pickford) were instrumental in getting the post on its feet in the early days. Originally, they met in a small church on the corner of Hollywood & Vine (where there's now a Starbucks). Over the years, Post members have included the likes of Gene Autry, Red Buttons, Stan Lee, and many more showbiz figures.
Today, Post 43 has nearly 1,000 Legion Family members made up of veterans, Sons, and Auxiliary (related female descendants). It boasts a diverse membership where all generations of veterans of every ethnicity, religion, and orientation are welcome. However, just like the famed Magic Castle, the Post is closed to the general public. That includes the incredible all-original Art Deco Bar in the basement. It's a private club for members only, so you must be a veteran or a registered family relative of a veteran, in order to even be eligible to become a member. But if you do qualify you’ll get a range of benefits, including exclusive access to one of the coolest private bars in all of Hollywood. So, if you are eligible I encourage you to join. Wherever you live. Not only will your dollars go to a worthy organization, but if you EVER make it to LA for a vacation, or the TCMFF you will want to visit the awesome bar at the Post.
Just who can join? Wartime veterans who have served honorably during the eligibility periods as determined by Congress may apply for membership (details are available on the site). Or if your parent, spouse, or even grandparent served during wartime, you may qualify for membership in the Sons of the American Legion or the American Legion Auxiliary. There is some paper work you'll have to fill out, and a nominal fee for joining. But for that small inconvenience you'll help the American Legion help veterans with accessing VA benefits and care, remedy financial hardship, support local ROTC programs, and raise money for college scholarships, all while knowing there's an awesome bar in Hollywood waiting for your visit. I'm working on my application now. Hope to see you at the bar!