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Chinese Theater & Handprint ceremonies

Grauman's Chinese Theater

Grauman’s Chinese Theater is the most popular and well known theater in the world and is also one of the most visited tourist attractions in the World.  After having C.E. Toberman build the Egyptian Theater, Sid Grauman asked Mr. Toberman to build him another theater, this one with a Chinese motif.  

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After months of construction, Sid opened  his Chinese Theater on May 18, 1927 with the world premiere of Cecil B. DeMille’s King of King.  In attendance were several of the movie stars that acted in the movie, including William Boyd, and Ernest Torrence, who played Peter in the movie.  The oriental architectural style made it one of the most unique theaters in the world. Oriental antiques were purchase and incorporated into the oriental theme of the theater. At the entrance to the theater were two large Fu dog statutes. 

 

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Forecourt

One of the most unusual features of the theater was the very large forecourt. When Sid built the Egyptian Theater, he had a small forecourt built so movie props and other artifacts could be displayed.  The forecourt at the Chinese was considerably larger that that of the Egyptian Theater.  While the concrete was being installed in the forecourt, Sid accidently walked onto the wet cement.  The concrete mason, Jean Klossner, scolded Sid for walking in the wet cement – and thus was born a tradition that has lasted for almost ninty years.

 

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Hand and Footprint Ceremonies.

After walking in the forecourt’s wet cement, Sid came up with the idea of having movie celebrities place their handprints, footprints and signatures in small areas of wet cement in the forecourt.  The first to do so were Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. Three weeks before the theater’s grand opening, Sid called them to come over to the theater to practice placing their handprints, footprints and signatures in wet cement. After practicing for a while, they did it for real.  A few days later, Sid asked Norma Talmadge to come to the theater and place her handprints, footprints and signature in the forecourt.  

 

 

 

 

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Jean Klossner

After the theater had its grand opening, in 1927, Sid embarked on his hand and footprint ceremonies. He continued to employ the cement mason, Jean Klossner, to mix the cement and assist in placing the celebrities’ handprints, footprints and signatures in the wet cement.  Jean formulated a  very special cement that was extremely hard and resisted the wearing by the millions of of tourists’ walking in the forecourt.  Ever since Pickford and Fairbanks inaugerated the tradition, hundreds of celebrities have been immortalized in the theater’s forecourt.  One of the most recent ceremonies was held in 2010 when Peter O’Toole placed his hands in the forecourt’s wet cement. 

Go to hollywoodphotographs.com to see the best Grauman's Chinese Theater photos.

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