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Chinese Theater History and Photos on hollywoodphotographs.com

Grauman’s Chinese Theater History and Photos on www.hollywoodphotographs.com website

Towering majestly above the 6900 block of Hollywood Boulevard is the wondrously impressive  Chinese Theater, the most famous motion picture theater in the world.  Completed in 1927, it was the last theater constructeerd under the auspices of Sid Grauman, probably the best known exhibitor in film history, who was alternatively (and appropriately) called “Hollywood’s Master Showman,” “The PT Barnum of The Movies,”  “The Ziegfield of Hollywood,” and “The Little Giant of Show Biz.”

After building some theaters in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Sid Grauman turned his attention to Hollywood. He contacted real estate developer, Charles E. Toberman, about building a new theater with an Egyptian Theater motif. Toberman consented and began building  the theater on Hollywood Blvd.  Several months later, the grand opening took place in 1922 with the premiere of Robin Hood, starring Douglas Fairbanks. Scores of early photos of the Egyptian Theater are on the hollywoodphotographs.com website.

With the success of the Egyptian Theater, Sid turned, again, to Charles Toberman about building another theater on Hollywood Blvd – this time with a Chinese architectural design. They hired the firm of Meyer & Holler to design the new theater.  The ground breaking ceremony took place on January 5, 1926 at 7:00 PM. Actress, Norma Talmadge turned the first spade-ful of earth with a gold-plated shovel, assisted by Chinese actress, Anna May Wong, and later operated a steam shovel.

Construction went on for slightly over a year, and the final cost was given at approximately $2,000,000. The theater originally seated 2,258 spectators.  With several alterations and re-spacing of the seats, the seating capacity was diminished to 1,400.

Both the interior décor and exterior of the theater were more impressive than any theater that had ever been built. Two large marble Kung-Fu dogs  were located on either side of the entrance. The interior’s décor included a gigantic chandelier of bronze in the form of a colossal lantern.  The ceiling consisted of beautiful carvings that complimented the Chinese motif.

The grand opening of the Chinese Theater occurred on the  MY 18, 1927 with the Los Angeles premiere of Cecil B. DeMille’s epic production of “King of Kings,”  which had opened in New York the previous month. The movie starred H.B. Warner, as Jesus and Ernest Torrence as Peter.

The film was to have had its world premiere at the Chinese Theater but, due to construction delays, it had to be postponed. An estimated 50,000 spectators jammed the area in front of the theater on Hollywood Blvd. in hopes of catching a glimpse of some of the celebrities who paid $11 per ticket to attend the grand opening.

One of the unique features of the Chinese Theater was the creation of hand and footprint ceremonies that occurred in the theater’s forecourt. The origin of this unique marketing idea may never be known – as there are many variations of the story.  What is known is that Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks were the first two celebrities to place their hand prints, foot prints, and signature in the forecourt’s wet cement. Since then, hundreds of Hollywood’s most popular stars have followed the tradition started by Pickford and Fairbanks.

In 2013, Chinese TV maker TCL has paid more than $5 million for the naming rights to the venerable Grauman's Chinese Theatre opened in 1927 by showman Sid Grauman. The Hollywood Boulevard landmark will now be called the TCL Chinese Theatre, helping the Chinese company raise its profile. The theater is used almost weekly for red-carpet premieres, and draws nearly 4 million visitors a year.

Many Chinese Theater photos can be found on www.hollywoodphotographs.com web site and Google+ 

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