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Grauman's Chinese: the forecourt



1927 - The forecourt of Gruman's Chinese. It's a Mott Studios photo in the California State Library collection.



1927 - A view of the forecourt from the west. The original boxoffice is beyond the entrance doors, just to the left of the palm tree. It's a Mott Studios photo from the California State Library collection.



1927 - An usherette points to a sign for the theatre's opening attraction "King of Kings." Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding the photo -- he had it as a post on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles. You can also find the photo in the wonderful Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection.



1927 - Gloria Swanson with Sid Grauman playing in the forecourt. It's a photo added by Nile Hight to the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles. Ms. Swanson was the eighth star to add footprints. 



1927 - We're looking past the pagoda to another Charles Toberman project on the hills. The big sign for his Outpost Estates housing project rivaled the one for the Hollywoodland project. It's a photo from Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives that appeared on two Noirish Los Angeles posts about Outpost Estates. GS Jansen initially had it on his Noirish post #1650. Mr. Ethereal Reality later had more discussion on his Noirish post #38206. Also see the website www.outpostestates.com.  



1927 - The staff lined up to serve you in a great image from the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for spotting it and adding it to the collection on Photos of Los Angeles.



1927 - Those usherettes got into all sorts of trouble. Here, in a photo from the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection, they're up on top of the entrance vestibule.  Thanks, Bruce! Head to his collection to browse nearly 400 Chinese Theatre photos, including many of ceremonies in the forecourt.

Also from 1927: Cezar's Del Valle's Theatre Talks blog on Tumblr has two posts featuring forecourt views from scrapbook pages by Beryl, a woman visiting Hollywood in 1927. | Part 1 | Part 2 |



1928 - A promotion in January for Chaplin's "The Circus" with a Chaplin imitator and the Mexican clown Pepito. The Dick Whittington Studio photo is part of a set in the USC Digital Libraries collection.



1928 - A look down from the pagoda into the forecourt during a premiere. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for spotting this one and posting it on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles. The photo can also be found on the website of the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection. Bruce gives it a 1927 date.

Chinese Theatre historian Kurt Wahlner says: "I have determined that this photo was PROBABLY taken during the premiere of a picture called 'The Trail of '98,' on May 7, 1928. My reasons are these: The four palm trees at center forecourt - the photo must have been taken prior to the engagement of 'White Shadows in the South Seas,' August 3, 1928, where the rear two have been removed, and a grass shack had been erected in that space.

So, only four premieres were held during this time frame: 'King of Kings,' 'The Gaucho,' 'The Circus' and 'The Trail of '98.' I rule out 'The Gaucho,' as its premiere picture shows the stenciled canopy in place. I also rule out both 'King' and 'Circus' because this photo is really not crowded enough for pictures with such large public interest."

The film "The Trail of '98" was of interest technically as it used an MGM process called "The Fantom Screen" where the picture both got bigger-- and the screen rolled toward the audience -- during climactic scenes. Kurt tells all on one of his Chinese Theatre projection pages.



1928 - Thanks to Kurt Wahlner for this view of the "Trail of '98" premiere from the east side of the theatre's pagoda. Edwin Schallert, in his Los Angeles Times review of the opening of "Trail of '98" noted that "There was a little less glamour than usual attending its advent, probably because premieres are gradually losing some of their popular excitement, due to their constantly increasing number."

Kurt says: "So here is an eyewitness account of the 'Trail' premiere in LA, and I gather that he was describing the area around the forecourt, which does seem a little subdued, regardless of the bleachers full of people across the street."



1930 - A lovely forecourt view located by Ken McIntyre for the Photos of Los Angeles Facebook page. It's a nice display but, alas, we don't know for what film. Chinese Theatre historian Kurt Wahlner suggests it might be for "The Big Trail" as we see a bunch of western paraphernalia scattered about. The photo can also be seen on the website of the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection.



1930s? - An undated view from the California Historical Society in the USC Digital Libraries collection gives us a nice panorama up Hollywood Blvd. and a great look down at the lush foliage in the forecourt and atop the walls encircling it.  The signage fronting the parking lot east of the theatre would by this period usually have a film title up. Evidently it was getting changed -- here it just says "Sid Grauman's Prologue."



A detail looking down into the forecourt from the USC image above.



1933 - A fine view from the top of the building looking over toward the Roosevelt. The photo, on Vintage Los Angeles, was a find by Nile Hight. Kurt Wahlner advises that the shot is a still for a Paramount film called "The Search for Beauty," released in 1934. The theatre doesn't figure in the film.


 
c.1936 - A Life magazine shot on Google/Life Images. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor BifRayRock for the find, appearing on his Noirish post #40362. The post includes many other fun Hollywood shots of young hopeful actresses hanging out around town waiting for their big break. Maybe this young hopeful is looking for an usherette job in the meantime.



1936 - A Life magazine shot on Google/Life Images. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor BifRayRock for the find, part of his Noirish post #40362.  Kurt Wahlner suggests that this shot might be from March, April or May -- perhaps during the May 8-14 run of  "Robin Hood of El Dorado."

That little visor over the entrance doors was deployed intermittently. Kurt has two other shots from mid-1936 showing it in use. One was used in a Lansing speaker brochure from perhaps summer 1936 and the other was taken during the August 1936 run of  "His Brother's Wife."



1936 - Another take of that Life magazine pagoda shot from Google/Life Images. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor BifRayRock for the photo, seen on his Noirish post #40551



1936 -  A Life magazine shot on Google/Life Images taken during the run of William Wellman's "Robin Hood of El Dorado" starring Warner Baxter. It opened May 8 for a big one week run playing as a double bill with "Moonlight Murder."  Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor BifRayRock for the find, appearing on his Noirish post #40551.



1936 -  Another Life magazine shot on Google/Life Images that Kurt Wahlner believes was taken during the May run of "Robin Hood of El Dorado." Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor BifRayRock for the photo, appearing on his Noirish post #40551.



1937 - Peeking into the forecourt in a photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



1937 - Tourists exploring the forecourt. It's a Los Angeles Public Library collection photo by Herman Schultheis. Kurt Wahlner dates this one as July or August, during the run of "The Good Earth," set in China. Note the rickshaw and other items.



c.1937 - An easel announcing that it's Studio Preview night. It's a photo by Herman Schultheis in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.  Note the reflection in the glass of the signage for the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.



c.1937 - The forecourt during a premiere. It's a Herman Schultheis photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



c.1937 - Another Los Angeles Public Library collection premiere photo taken by Herman Schultheis.



1940s - A photo taken by Dennis Lewis, Sr. showing the canopy leading to the entrance doors from the boxoffice. It's on the Grauman's Chinese page of the site Scenes of L.A. During WWII.



1940s - A boxoffice view by Dennis Lewis Sr. The photo appears on the Grauman's Chinese page of the site Scenes of L.A. During WWII.

The original boxoffice was at the rear of the forecourt -- this one was a 1934 addition when the theatre abandoned two-a-day shows and went to a "grind" policy. Kurt Wahlner notes that the boxoffice was bombed during the run of "Funny Lady" in 1975 and replaced with a larger version. It was removed entirely in 2001. The current boxoffice is just east of the forecourt. For an entertaining romp, see Kurt's Grauman's Chinese Timeline.



1940s? - Thanks to Christopher Crouch on his blog Cinelog we get this undated Christmas view of Sid Grauman in the forecourt. The photo is from the collection of Jefferey Hawkins.



1940s? - A postcard map showing hand and footprint locations on "The Floor of Fame." Thanks to Martin Turnbull for the card, appearing on "The Most Famous Slab of Concrete in the World," his article about Sid Grauman and the Chinese for the Garden of Allah Novels blog.



1943 - A view from the Theatre Talks collection of Cezar Del Valle showing Monty Woolley imprinting his beard in the cement. Cezar is a Brooklyn-based theatre historian with a fondness for los Angeles theatres. Thanks, Cezar!



1944 - In this photo from the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection we're looking over at the original boxoffice in the northeast corner of the forecourt.



c.1946 - A look at tourists in the forecourt that appeared on eBay.



1948 - A summer tourist shot included in a fine batch of Hollywood photos from eBay. Thanks to Noirish Los Angeles contributor Ethereal Reality for spotting them -- they're on his Noirish post #25261.



1948 - Another snapshot on Noirish Los Angeles, part of the set found by Mr. Ethereal Reality. In this and the shot above the Chinese is showing "The Street With No Name" starring Mark Stevens.  It's the "Story of the FBI's battle against the rising post-war crime wave."



c.1949 - Longtime doorman Joseph Lockard Martin, Jr. is seen here in a photo from Christopher Crouch's profile of him on his blog Cinelog. Crouch reports that "Lock" Martin had a role in "The Day The Earth Stood Still" as well as television work.



c.1950 - The pagoda gets a paint job in this photo set by Ralph Morris in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



early 1950s - An undated Ralph Morris photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. The Library also has another shot from the same angle as well as yet another similar view.



early 1950s -  Across the forecourt from the west. It's an undated Ralph Morris photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



1953 - An Arnold Hylen  photo of the forecourt. Kurt Wahlner dates this as sometime from March to June of 1953: "The palm trees are sporting a haircut they received in the early part of 1953 - just before they hung up the sign for 'Shane.'"  The photo appeared on the Facebook page Vintage los Angeles where, Kurt notes, it had been flipped. Also on Facebook see the pages for Arnold Hylen and Arnold Hylen - Los Angeles - Images of an Era 1850-1960s.



1953 - From the UCLA Los Angeles Times Photograph Collection comes this view of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell doing hand prints at Grauman's Chinese. It's on Calisphere with a few other takes including a shot of the duo standing. The photo also appears on Martin Turnbull's fine blog post about the Chinese Forecourt. Many more images of this particular ceremony are available via Google.



1955 - Thanks to Richard Wojcik on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles for this view of a tourist looking at the hand prints of Bing Crosby and Jack Benny.



1950s - Here's our tour guide showing us the wonders of the forecourt. She seems partial to Jane Wyman. Thanks to Sean Ault for spotting the card and sending it along. 



c.1957 - A great shot giving us a view of the upgraded "hard-top" version of the canopy. Thanks to Ken McIntyre for the find.



c.1957 - Another entrance view located by Ken McIntyre. Thanks, Ken!



late 1950s - Thanks to Ron Whitfield on Photos of Los Angeles for this fine pagoda shot.



1958 - A lovely view of what the forecourt looked like during the run of "Windjammer." It's on the Chinese Theatre page of In Cinerama, a production of Cinerama and Cinemiracle historian Roland Lataille. He credits the photo to a now-vanished Picasa user. 



1963 - Thanks to Hector Acuna for this shot of happy tourists on the page for the non-public Facebook group Mid Century Modern. As we can see, "Hud" is playing.

also from 1963:  handprints - Jack Lemmon, Deborah Kerr - Los Angeles Public Library



1969 - Thanks to Kurt Wahlner for this photo from his collection of the October 19 Danny Kaye footprinting ceremony. He notes that the band accompanied the UNICEF choir that was performing at the ceremony to honor Kaye’s work for the organization. Visit Kurt's website about the Chinese Theatre's history: www.graumanschinese.org.



1970s - A forecourt postcard from Ken McIntyre on Photos of Los Angeles. The display was a series of plaques celebrating Academy Award winners year-by-year. These were also featured  in at least one National General souvenir book.



1970s - The Chinese used to have a coin operated machine in the forecourt that made little plastic pagodas while you waited.  On one side they said "Hollywood USA" and "Chinese Theatre" on the other. Thanks to Robert Stone II for his photos on Vintage Los Angeles.  He says you could choose either red or green.



1972 - A look at the molding machine that made the souvenir plastic pagodas. As you can see by the watermarks on the photo, it came from a site called Moldville, no longer with us.  Similar machines were at other tourist attractions, including at the Hollywood Bowl. The film playing at the time of the photo was "What's Up Doc?"



1970s - The Chinese also had a recording booth as well -- but nobody seems to remember exactly where it was. This souvenir record that was made at the Chinese comes from the Kurt Wahlner collection.


  
1973 - Thanks to Rick Balin on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles for this pagoda shot taken during the engagement of "Enter the Dragon." The film opened August 24 for an eight week run. 



1973 - A view out toward the street during the run of "Enter the Dragon." Again thanks to Rick Balin on Vintage Los Angeles for the photo -- and also to Kurt Wahlner for some color correction. 



1974 - An entrance view from the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles. It's a Johns Burwell photo.



1970s? - A photo by Russ Halford looking down at the forecourt. It once appeared as a post on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles.



1977 - A shot of the 50th anniversary showing of  "King of Kings." Thanks to Ken McIntyre for finding the photo -- it was a post of his on the page for the Facebook group Photos of Los Angeles.  



1978 - One of the many souvenir opportunities at the Chinese was getting a photo in a decorative frame featuring the pagoda. Thanks to Rick Balin for this one on Vintage Los Angeles.



1978 - The wax dolls in the lobby display cases dressed in Chinese costumes were spooky enough. But one of the forecourt displays was even more macabre -- Sid Grauman in a box. Thanks to Rick Balin posting this photo of his on Vintage Los Angeles.



1979 - A fine look down into the forecourt from Vintage Los Angeles as they set up for the premiere of "Hurricane." Thanks to Richard Wojcik for the photo from his collection.



1980 - A lovely column capital detail by Franciscophile on Flickr.



1980s? - Thanks to Bill Gabel on Photos of Los Angeles for this shot of tourists doing their work in the forecourt.



1983 - King Kong in the forecourt for a 50th anniversary screening on March 24. Thanks to Richard Wojcik for the photo on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles. See the comments to his post for a shot taken that evening of Fay Wray in Kong's hand -- and also one of Hugh Hefner and two Playboy bunnies.



1990 - Tourists checking it all out in a photo from the Los Angeles Public Library collection. It's one taken by William Reagh.



1991 - An August look at the pagoda in the Los Angeles Public Library collection. It's a William Reagh photo.  Also from Mr. Reagh in 1991: pagoda detail | tourists looking at footprints |



1992 - An entrance detail from Berger Conser Architectural Photography from the book "The Last Remaining Seats: Movie Palaces of Tinseltown" by Anne Conser and Robert Berger. It's available on Amazon. Visit the Robert Berger Photography website where 16 photos from the book are displayed in his Last Remaining Seats section. This photo is #12 in the portfolio.



1994 - A display case view during the run of "True Lies" on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles. Thanks to Matthew Jones for the photo.  



1994 - A crowd in the forecourt seen in a Carol Westwood photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



2005 - A look at the pagoda from the Library of Congress collection. It's a Carol Highsmith photo. Thanks to Jonathan Raines for finding it. You might also want to browse more Highsmith photos of L.A. buildings that are in the Library's collection.



2006 - A shot on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Facebook page of Bruce Willis doing the prints.



2007 - The vista west from the forecourt toward the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Photo: Bill Counter



2007 - For many, the impressions in the concrete are are the big attraction at the Chinese. Here's Maurice Chevalier.  Photo: Bill Counter - 2007

Of course, there are scandalous reports of re-arrangements over the years with a few stars' imprints being hauled off to storage. The Chinese Theatre website compiled by theatre historian Kurt Wahlner includes lists of the films that played the Chinese year by year as well as an alphabetical film list.

"Hollywood At Your Feet: The Story of the Chinese Theatre Footprints" (available on Netflix) offers lots of newsreel footage of footprint ceremonies -- many with Sid Grauman supervising. Check out the footprints map on Seeing Stars.

See Martin Turnbull's post "The Most Famous Slab of Concrete in the World" for a history of Sid Grauman and the Chinese Theatre footprints. The Wikipedia article on "List of Handprints" also has a full rundown of dates of events in the forecourt.  



2007 - The hand and high-heeled shoe prints of Constance Talmadge. Photo: Bill Counter 



2007 - The middle of the forecourt used to have a free-standing boxoffice but it wasn't original. Here on the far right we see a bit of the original 1927 boxoffice. Photo: Bill Counter



2007 - The "heaven dog" is guarding the doors if you try to sneak in. Photo: Bill Counter



2007 - A closer look at one of the guardian "heaven dogs" thanks to Tom O'Neil on Flickr.



2007 - A pagoda dragon detail by Glowfish on Flickr.



2007 - A lovely view of the pagoda at night by Hagoody on Flickr.



2007 - A photo by Floyd Bariscale of the entrance doors. See his Chinese Theatre page on Big Orange Landmarks and his Chinese Theatre set on Flickr for more terrific views.



c.2010 - The ornament on the front doors. Thanks to Don Solosan for his photo, taken for the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation.

The LAHTF works to preserve historic theatres in the Los Angeles area by supporting events, offering tours and promoting awareness of the architectural merit of these treasures. www.lahtf.org | LAHTF on Facebook |



c. 2010 - A detail of some ornament on a column of the pagoda.  Photo: Don Solosan - LAHTF



c. 2010 - Ornament on the south forecourt wall above one of the souvenir stands.  Photo: Don Solosan - LAHTF



c.2010 - A wonderful night view looking up from the entrance. Photo: Don Solosan - LAHTF



c.2010 - The top of the pagoda at night. Photo: Don Solosan - LAHTF.  Thanks, Don!



2011 - A pan and tilt 360 degree tour of the Chinese Theatre forecourt by Bryan Groulx is featured on the amazing site 360 Cities.



2011 - This great shot down from the pagoda once appeared on the TCL Chinese Theatre Facebook page. The event was a premiere of something called "Abduction." 



 2012 - A look at the entrance doors by Wendell Benedetti, a photo on the LAHTF Facebook page.



2012 - A detail of the capital on a column of the pagoda by Kathy Dominic.



2012 - The stairs leading up from the west side of the forecourt to the offices, private boxes and booth upstairs. Photo: Bill Counter



2012 - A view from the far west side of the forecourt looking along the side of the building toward the stage door. Photo: Bill Counter



2013 - A view on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles looking across the forecourt toward the Roosevelt. Thanks to Douglas Rudd for the post.



2013 - The original boxoffice in the northeast corner of the forecourt -- now an office for Starline Tours. Photo: Bill Counter



2013 - A peek into the original boxoffice, now the Starline Tours booth. The photo is part of a lovely Curbed L.A. photo gallery by Elizabeth Daniels. Adrian Glick Kudler wrote the story: "Touring the Chinese Theatre Before it Closes For a Renovation."



2013 - Another view of the original boxoffice (and the safe) by Elizabeth Daniels. It's one of her 33 photos with the Curbed L.A. story "Touring the Chinese Theatre Before it Closes For a Renovation."



2014 - This photo is by Kurt Wahlner, curator of the site graumanschinese.org, gives us a look at the professional signage at the theatre's entrance. It's the newly trendy blackboard look. Don't miss Kurt's superb page on Signage at the Chinese.



2014 - The squatters and riffraff have taken over the forecourt. This August evening photo is by Kurt Wahlner, historian of all things related to Grauman's Chinese. Kurt notes that our spray paint artist in the photo is on top of the footprints of Anthony Hopkins, Nicholas Cage, and the "Giant" trio of George Stevens, Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor.



2015 - The base for an Imax laser projector up in the air. The photo is from the set about the installation by Escott O. Norton on the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation Facebook page. Thanks, Escott!



2015 - A side view of one of the projectors in the forecourt. The unload was done in the middle of the night to avoid attention. Photo: Escott O. Norton - LAHTF Facebook page



2015 - Another view of one of the projectors getting strapped up ready for a lift by the crane. Photo: Escott O. Norton - LAHTF Facebook page



2015 - Ready for a lift up to the 2nd floor door near Sid Grauman's old office. Photo: Escott O. Norton - LAHTF Facebook page



2016 - A fine look at one of the metal dragons appearing out on each corner of the pagoda. Thanks to Shawn Dudley for his photo, originally appearing on the LAHTF Facebook page.



2016 - Here's Shawn Dudley's wider view taken the same day showing the dragons atop the pagoda. Thanks, Shawn!

Pages on Grauman's Chinese: 
| Chinese overview | street views 1926 to 1954 | street views 1955 to present | back to top - forecourt | lobby | lounges | vintage auditorium views | recent auditorium views | upstairs boxes and offices | booth | stage | basement | attic | Chinese Twin | Chinese 6 |

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