History of the Coronet Debutante Ball

In June 1949, Mrs. Paul William Lawrence, founder and first President of National Charity League, Los Angeles (NCLLA), presented to several friends her dream of establishing a Debutante Ball to recognize and celebrate their daughters’ years of social and philanthropic works through their years of being NCLLA Ticktockers.

The first order of business was a name for the Ball.  Mrs. Lawrence often wore a pearl necklace with a clasp of a gold coronet.  From this gold coronet the name for the Ball was chosen:  The Coronet Debutante Ball.  Mrs. Lawrence’s long-time friend, Mrs. Neil Charles Brown, was appointed chairman.  She envisioned a large floral Coronet through which each Debutante could step and make her debut.  At their presentation, the Debutantes wear floor-length white gowns with long white gloves and each carries a pink carnation muff.  The fathers’ white tie and tails were the first to be required at a Debutante Ball in Los Angeles, as was the traditional first dance for fathers and daughters.  The only jewelry worn by the Debutante during her presentation is a small gold coronet lavaliere suspended on a white velvet ribbon.  These and other traditions were established, such as the date for the Ball, which is the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

The Balls from 1949 to 1955 were held in the Crystal Room at the Beverly Hills Hotel.   The Crystal Room had to be reached across an outdoor lawn and 1955 saw a huge deluge of rain necessitating the hasty erection of a canopy to keep the Debutantes dry in their gowns!  Subsequently, in 1956, The Coronet Debutante Ball was moved to the Beverly Hilton Hotel with its attached dressing rooms, where it remains to this day.

The husbands of the chairman and her two co-chairs underwrote the first Coronet Debutante Ball.  It has been privately financed ever since and proceeds are given to support various civic and NCLLA philanthropies.  Initially, proceeds were given to Los Angeles hospitals for major projects, later to the NCLLA Building Fund as well as other NCLLA philanthropies such as Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic and the Head Start School, both which were located at the NCLLA headquarters, located at 5000 Hollywood Boulevard.  Over the years, many additional NCLLA philanthropies have been highlighted to receive proceeds from the Coronet Debutante Ball and proceeds have been donated back to NCLLA to support their chosen causes.

To protect the name and activities, and to insure the continuation of the Coronet Debutante Ball, the Coronet Debutante Ball Board was established in 1954.  In 1961, a separate corporation was formed as The National Charity League Coronet Debutante Ball.  The Board is comprised largely of past Ball Directors and meets regularly each month, or more often when necessary.  The Coronet Debutante Ball is constantly evolving over the years and is now known as The Coronet Ball.  The Coronet Ball remains a première social event supporting charitable endeavors of local non-profit organizations through contributions and celebrations honoring the culmination of years of service of accomplished young women in Los Angeles.

After participating in The Coronet Ball, the Debutantes become lifetime Coronets  As Coronets, these former NCLLA Ticktockers and Debutantes, many who have worked together in grade level community service, can retain their friendships and make new friends with others who have been presented.  Mothers of Coronets may also join the Coronet Patronesses, a social group also spanning the years of dedicated social and philanthropic works.

In the past seventy years of The Coronet Ball (1949-2019), more than 1,500 Debutantes were presented and have become part of our Coronet family.  It is the commitment of The National Charity League Debutante Ball Board to continue the essential long-standing traditions of The Coronet Ball and our emphasis is to honor young women who have distinguished themselves through their dedication and commitment to volunteerism in our community.  

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