Concrete memories at Grauman’s Chinese Theater

Posted January 30, 2013 at 12:00 am

By MICHAEL BUSHNELL
Northeast News
January 30, 2013 

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If you’re noticing a theme here in the historic postcard column over the last couple of weeks, you’d be correct.

TWA Stratoliners, quaint Key West and now this week, Grauman’s Chinese Theater in sunny Los Angeles, Calif. The theater was the brainchild of Hollywood promoter and developer Sid Grauman who, based on the huge popularity of internationally themed theaters at the time, had constructed the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard. With the opulence of the Pharaohs, the theater was hugely popular among patrons who lined up for blocks to see first-run Hollywood blockbusters.

In 1927, Grauman commissioned the architectural firm of Meyer and Holler (who had designed the Egyptian) to design a Chinese palace theater at 6925 Hollywood Blvd. Partnered with stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, the result was the famous theater that has launched the premiers of such films as Cecil B. DeMille’s “King of Kings,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Star Wars.” The signature of Grauman’s, however, wasn’t only the Chinese pagoda style, but also the nearly 200 stars of stage and screen who left their mark, quite literally, in the concrete outside the theater.

The first to leave their mark? Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, Grauman’s partners in the venture. Most recently the naming rights to the theater were sold to Chinese television maker TCL who re-named the theater the TCL Chinese Theater.

The publisher’s description on the back of the card states: “The Chinese theater has been the scene of many Hollywood gala premiers. In the forecourt of this famous theater may be seen the footprints in concrete of many of filmland’s celebrities both past and present.”