The Chinese Theater, which is undoubtedly the most famous theater in the world, opened in 1927 (making it also, one of the oldest).. With the premiere of Cecil B. DeMille's King of Kings. Its courtyard includes the hand and footprints of almost 200 Hollywood legends. I don't know why, but the theater has ALWAYS been a source of INTENSE fascination to me!! Much of it is prolly the MASSIVE RICH HISTORY!! Really.. No other ground on earth has SO MUCH proof of notables past & present - imprinted on the ground as literal concrete proof, that, INDEED - they were THERE! Twas the 2nd place I REALLY wanted to see upon arrival in Hollywood in 1994... The first of course being that of Chaplin's old studio grounds (now the Jim Henson Company)..
It was once stated that “to visit Los Angeles and not see the Chinese Theater is like visiting China and not seeing the Great Wall.” Dunno who said it, but apparently it's quoted ALLLLLLL over the internet, AND in the Hollywood Chamber brochure, it is so true!! Anyhow... If your looking to see stars in Hollywood, (faded and new), this is your place yo!! Stars turn out in DROVES to movie premieres had here!
The place was cemented by master showman, Sid Grauman, in 1927.. Chaplin, in his autobiography, called Sid, "THE BEST SHOWMAN/marketeer ro ever live!!" He said once, during the shooting of 'The Kid'.. They were shooting the scene (near the end), where Tramp gets the kid (Jackie Coogan), back from welfare services on Olivera Street - when all of a sudden there was a huge stir on the next street over. In heading over to see what was stirring a growing crowd.. Came a car coming 'slooowly' down the street with a bullhorn on top. The car was DECKED OUT with info about a party Sid was having & indeed it was Sid behind the wheel in a bright colored suit. He KNEW how to promote.. without a DOUBT!!
Sidney Patrick Grauman, was born March 17, 1879, in Indianapolis, Indiana, to Jewish parents.. When Sidney was still crawling - his father moved the family to Canada, convinced there "was gold in them there hills of Canada." This was the GOLD RUSH era!! While nothing came of that - the Graumans were made considerably wealthy by their Klondike entertainment activities. By way of 'promoting' the gold, rather than 'digging' - & doing it in interesting & entertaining ways!! After this lucrative experience.. Sid's dad started eyeing 'theater.' Moving to San Francisco opening a 'Vaudeville' theatre there. Young Sid was 'watching' showmanship in grand style - as he was growing..
The grand opening of the then Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, was on May 18, 1927, with owner Sid Grauman officiating! It was said the most spectacular theatre opening in motion picture history. That's prolly a BIG UNderstatement.. Thousands of people lined Hollywood Boulevard and a riot broke out as fans tried to catch a glimpse of the movie stars and other celebrities as they arrived for the opening. The film being premiered that night was Cecil B. DeMille's “The King of Kings,” and, of course" a live looonnng prologue devised by fame hag showman Sid Grauman, himself. A Wurlitzer organ and 65-piece orchestra provided music for the prologue. You get the idea. The theatre opened to the public the following day, May 19, 1927.
Previously, Grauman built the Million Dollar Theatre in downtown Los Angeles and the lavish Egyptian Theatre - a few blocks from the Chinese, but he wanted to build his dream theatre. Real estate mogul C.E. Toberman helped him secure a long-term lease on a piece of property on Hollywood Boulevard, and Grauman developed the plans for the theatre with architect Raymond Kennedy.
Norma Talmadge turned the first spade full of dirt in January 1926 - and beautiful Chinese actress Anna May Wong drove the first rivet in the steel girders. Built at a cost of $2,000,000, and eighteen months later - the Chinese Theatre opened. Upon the last day of completion, Norma Talmadge who was there with Sid spectating, slipped, leaving her footprints in the wet cement.. Sid had an epiphany moment.. Thus, throwing your hands and feet in wet cement for the sake of theater was born!! Norma was first, by proxy, (& quite literally), followed by Douglas Fairbanks, (AWESOME) & Mary Pickford (DOUBLE AWESOME).. OFFICIALLY, & by ceremony, Doug & Mary were first.. Since then... MAANNY have followed in the tradition. Some say Sid started the hand/footprint system for publicity which isn't totally far out. Sid was after all (according to Chaplin), THE MASTER publicist, attention ho, and would hold a press conference over a fart. The ladder added by me..
You can see a full list of all who have bore bare feet, hands, noses, cigars, wands, slippers, etc... at the theater, here. Why, even Harry POOTer has left his touch in the theater cement. Annnyhooo...
Those footprints draw 5 million tourists a year today. As the landmark building now known as the TCL Chinese Theatre turns 90 this week, here are a few little-known facts about its famous forecourt:
Not just hands and feet: Jimmy Durante pressed his nose into the cement alongside his footprints in 1945. Jackie Chan did the same in 1997. Betty Grable left an imprint of her leg when she was honored in 1943. John Barrymore laid his face down to mark the release of “The Great Profile” in 1940. George Burns left one of his signature cigars behind with his prints in 1979. It was quickly pried out by a fan, said Levi Tinker, general manager and staff historian. Marilyn Monroe, whose handprints are the most popular of the lot according to Tinker, dotted the “i” in her name with an earring when she was honored in 1953. It was stolen three days later, Tinker said, though a piece of its backing remains. Whoopi Goldberg dropped one of her dreadlocks into the cement in 1995. There are also horseshoes (Trigger in 1949), robot wheels (R2-D2 in 1977), a pipe (Jean Hersholt, 1949) and a gun (Roy Rogers, 1949) imprinted in the celebrated cement.
Size matters: Because small feet were considered more ladylike, some actresses squeezed into tiny shoes for their footprint honors. Rita Hayworth wore children’s shoes to make her prints in 1942. Shirley Temple also wore children’s shoes for her prints in 1935, but she was 7 years old at the time. Sean Connery went barefoot in 1999. Mel Brooks, who made his mark in 2014, wore his regular shoes but added a prosthetic sixth finger to his left hand.
Fleeting footprints? Not everyone recognized with a hand and footprint ceremony makes a permanent mark at the Chinese Theatre. A few have been purely promotional, said theater president and chief operating officer Alwyn Hight Kushner, and the cement tablets created were never actually destined for the forecourt. Herbie the Love Bug left his tire tracks in cement in 1969, but the tablet was never installed. Prints left behind more recently by Kobe Bryant, the Smurfs, Optimus Prime and Uggie the dog are in storage, Kushner said.
Time capsules: There are two buried beneath the forecourt. The first was planted in 1942 to mark the release of “Mrs. Miniver,” which ultimately won six Oscars. Beneath star Greer Garson’s prints is a capsule containing a copy of the script and a 35-millimeter print of the film. A second time capsule commemorates the theater’s 50th anniversary. Buried in 1977, it holds a theater ticket, a 16-millimeter print of a Chinese film and a program from opening night on May 18, 1927.
China imported bells, pagodas, stone Heaven Dogs, other artifacts, and humans, for a Chinese feel. The humans imported were poet-ician-ian-ian-ian and film director Moon Quon came from China, and under his supervision - Chinese artisans created many pieces of statuary in the work area that eventually became the fountain Forecourt of the Stars (make a wish). Most of these imports still decorate the interior and exterior of the theatre today. See...there is a Chinese connection to the theater!! Now, HERE finds a reason i'd love to have been in Sid's shoes!! Marilyn kept the faith in the Forecourt!
The last time I was at the theater, was in 1996...the premiere of the movie 'Spawn.' A group of kids were trying to get another kid who had just come out of the theater, to go in and get Chris Farley. The kid went in, and came back out saying Chris says 'a big-'ol-smelly-fat-festering-hairy -NOPE!' Chris Farley was a great actor, but was for shit when it come to his fanbase! Anyhoo -
In 1929, Sid, facing bankruptcy, rightly sold the theater to William Fox, who obviously, added it to the line, in his chain of theaters, but keeping the name. Sid stayed on to manage.
In 1973, the theater sold to a fella named Ted Mann. The name was changed to Mann Chinese Theater 🙄... (APPARRENTLYY not realizing - you DO NOT change some things in history!!) Facing bankruptcy 👍.. Mann sold the theater to Warner and Paramount, in a joint partnership buyout. Warner and Paramount promptly changed the name back to Grauman's Chinese Theater 👍👍.
In 2004, the theater was bought back by a relative of Sid Grauman. Upon their death in 2007, the theater was left to Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation.. Who in turn sold it to a company called CMI, who presently own it today, under what history calls it!! 👍 'Grauman's Chinese Theater...'
The theater stands today, as it ever did, a true Hollywood Legend!!
Sid Grauman died at the age of 70 on March 5, 1950. Along with the Chinese Theater, he was one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In 1949, he was donned with an honorary Oscar for quote ... 'for raising the standard for film exhibition.' He certainly DID do that..
Sid holds the ONLY claim, to being buried along Hollywood Blvd.. Planted RIGHT THERE, at the Chinese Theater! YOU can leave your virtual flowers and a comment at Sid's graveside here.
There is no denying, Sid - & his theater - are MAJOR Hollywood Legends!!
COOL STUFF... Since it's inception, the theater has been the movie 'premiere' home for studios in Los Angeles.. In 1977 - 'Star Wars', premiered there!!