On our stopover in LA, on the way to the Affiliate Conference in Las Vegas, we visited Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Well, to be exact, the outside of the theatre which is famous for the foot and hand prints of some of Hollywood’s most famous celebrities.
The theatre is set within a courtyard and is quite sought after for studio premiers in Hollywood. Of course it was packed with tourists all wanting to take photos of the hand and foot prints of their favourite celebrities.
It was also full of touters trying to sell us things including a young man by the name Jamal aka Young Mystro who pushed his CD into our hands – “Just a donation is all I want” were his words as he proceeded to tell us that he was part of a rap duo called ‘Nothin But Heat’ and is trying to make it big. We ended up giving him a few dollars for it and had a listen to it later….not too bad… considering neither of us are particularly fond of rap music. He sounded as good as any professional rapper to us.
So back to the theatre…..we spent about half an hour wandering around looking at the foot and hand prints. It is a mix of old and new stars including Bruce Willis, Arnold Swarzenegger, Rock Hudson, Margaret O’Brien, Shirley Temple, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and the list goes on.
It was fun just seeing the sizes of the hand and foot prints – Natalie Wood seemed to have the smallest.
For the movie buff a visit to the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre at 6928 Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles is a must.
Paula is a fan of Natalie Wood, and was surprised at how small Natalie’s hands were.
And I was happy to see some of my favourite stars.
Sid Grauman opened his first Hollywood theatre, The Egyptian Theater, in 1922. It was such a success that he opened Grauman’s Chinese in 1927. Funnily enough Sid built this theatre in competition to himself as he also owned the Million Dollar Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. Back in the day movies patrons attended movies shown in palatial theatres.
The recent archaeological discoveries in Egypt around that time encouraged Sid to open the Grauman’s Egyptian theatre. And this was one of the theatres that helped to shift the entertainment district from where it had previously flourished in downtown LA to Hollywood. The movie going public were eager to check out the lavish decorations of the Egyptian theatre.
So how was Sid going to top this achievement?
He decided on a Chinese theme and undertook the building of the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, sparing no expense. In fact the theatre cost $2 million to build back in those days, imagine what it would cost today.
Sid imported Chinese artefacts from China including sculptured stone Temple Dogs. This magnificent theatre celebrated it’s 80th birthday in 2007.
The opening on May 18, 1927 was a premiere showing of the Cecille B DeMille’s spectacular ‘King of Kings’ with its cast of thousands. Thousands of Los Angelos citizens lined the streets hoping to catch a glimpse of their favourite movie stars and celebrities. The theatre opened for business to the general public on May 19, 1927.
Grauman’s theatre still previews movies from most of the major film companies such as Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Dreamworks, Sony, MGM/UA and New Line etc
Some of the movies that have premiered at Hollywood’s Grauman Theater in the past few years include:
- Ocean’s 13
- Music & Lyrics
- Rocky Balboa
- Pursuit of Happyness
- The Dukes of Hazzard
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- War of the Worlds
- Batman Begins
- Miss Congeniality 2
- Ocean’s 12
- The Aviator
- Cheaper by the Dozen
- X2–X-Men United
- 27 Dresses
The forecourt is a fascinating place that is full of excited tourists trying to find their favourite stars signature, hands and feet prints. There are also a lot of people dressed up as various characters such as Darth Vader, Spiderman, Batman etc, all touting for tourists to have their photo taken with them for a small fee.
We got as swept up in the moment as any other tourist when we spotted the prints of our favourite stars. And when you have found and photographed the stars outside the Chinese Theatre, you can follow the star trail up and down either side of Hollywood boulevard.
Apparently this tradition was started when Sid Grauman invited Douglass Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and Norma Tamadge to check out the theatre, which at that time was still under constructions. They accidentally walked on wet cement and left their footprints going from the street up to the front doors of theatre. When they saw what had happened they grabbed a nail that was lying on the ground and signed their names next to their footprints. Mary Pickford had the presence of mind to date her contribution.
Note: This post has been updated since it was first published in 2008.