More pages about Grauman's Chinese: street views 1926 to 1954 | street views 1955 to present | forecourt | lobby areas | basement lounges | vintage auditorium views | recent auditorium views | upstairs boxes & offices | projection booth | stage | basement | attic and roof | Chinese Twin | Chinese 6 |
Opened: May 18, 1927 by Sid Grauman (1879-1950) as his second theatre in Hollywood -- the first was the Egyptian, opened in 1922. The Chinese has remained a major first run venue since its debut. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010
Sid sold his interest in the Egyptian to West Coast Theatres shortly after opening the Chinese. Earlier Grauman operations in Los Angeles were the Million Dollar (1918), the Rialto (1919), and the Metropolitan (1923). Grauman sold his interest in these downtown theatres to Paramount in late 1923. The Metropolitan was renamed the Paramount in 1929.
Over the decades the Chinese has hosted premiere engagements of major films as varied as "Hell's Angel's (1930), "Grand Hotel" (1932), "King Kong" (1933), "Wizard of Oz" (1939), "Shane" (1953), "Auntie Mame" (1958), "West Side Story (1961), "Goldfinger" (1964), "Hello, Dolly" (1969) and "Star Wars" (1977). The list goes on and on.
Phone: 323-464-8111 Website: www.tclchinesetheatres.com | showtimes | Imax | on Facebook |
Architects: It was a design-build Meyer & Holler project with Raymond M. Kennedy as the principal architect. The firm had earlier done the Egyptian Theatre for Grauman. Some of their other theatre projects included the West Coast in Long Beach, the Cabrillo in San Pedro, the Fox Fullerton and the Oriental on Sunset Blvd.
The lobby murals were executed by Keye Luke, better known as an actor. The paintings on the brick side walls of the auditorium were done by Xavier Cugat. Yes, the bandleader. Bernard V. Gerow, Harold F. Wilson and Louis Ghiloni were credited by the L.A. Times as sculptors on the project.
The 150' x 250' lot size for the Chinese allowed for one of the largest stages in town, all seating on one level and room left over for a forecourt designed for huge crowds of adoring fans during premieres. In some promotional materials at the time of the opening the cost was given as $1.2 million, probably a seriously inflated figure.
A preliminary sketch for the theatre's asbestos curtain by Raymond M. Kennedy. It was part of a November 2012 Christie's Popular Culture auction.
One of the areas adjacent to the booth had been used by Grauman as a private box with limited seating. That box and the area on the other side of the booth got added seating in the 50s. The booth area was also used as a private box when the booth was downstairs between 1958 and 2001.
Hillsman Wright, of the L.A. Historic Theatre Foundation notes the floor of the seating area was originally maple, replaced by concrete in the 40s. The whole floor was demolished in 1958 (along with the pit and front of the stage) and a concrete floor with a new slope was installed.
With the 2001 renovation pushing the lobby into the rear of the seating area, it was necessary to go down steps to the new back row. The 2013 renovation design results in the last row again more or less at lobby level (as it was in 1927, but now farther forward) and the front rows substantially lower -- achieved by excavating the front of the auditorium. This allows for both stadium-style seating and a higher Imax format screen.
As it got closer to opening, the project was a high security area "posted with a heavy guard." Thanks to David Saffer for locating this March 13, 1927 Times story.
In "Grauman Plans Surprises for First-Nighters," an April 10, 1927 Times story, they discuss what happened to a missing bird in the lobby carpet pattern:
"... All of the elaborate carpets to ornament the palatial playhouse, which faithfully reproduces the glorious artistry of the early Chinese dynasties, were woven in China by native craftsmen. What appears to be a glaring imperfection in one of the brilliant foyer carpets probably will arrest the attention of visitors fortunate enough to be numbered in the first night audience. Of the four birds necessary to complete the symmetrical design of the fabric, one is missing.
The April 30, 1927 beginnings of the famous collection of hand and foot prints. Here Sid is with Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks a few weeks before the theatre's opening. Thanks to Vienna's Classic Hollywood blog for locating the photo by J.O. Milligan for a post about Sid. There are many alternate versions told about how the whole thing started. Kurt Wahlner offers six of them along with an interactive map and many forecourt details on his "Forecourt of the Stars" page.
The opening: The initial policy was two shows daily with reserved seats: a matinee
and evening show both preceded by an elaborate prologue. The policy
lasted (on and off) until 1934 when the prologues were abandoned and the
Chinese went to a four shows a day policy. And lots of double features.
A May 18 ad. Thanks to Michael Coate for sharing this in a post for the Friends of 70mm group on Facebook.
The cover of the opening program, beginning May 18, 1927. On the screen was Cecil B. DeMille's "King of Kings" and on stage was a giant scripture-inspired prologue with a cast of over 100 accompanied by an orchestra of 65. Constantin Bakaleinikoff was the conductor.
Who played on opening night? Thanks to Jim Lewis for locating this May 17 article from the Los Angeles Record. We're advised that Albert Hay Malotte was an "acquisition" by Sid for for the "dual dedicatory performance." Kurt Wahlner's notes about "King of Kings" on GraumansChinese.org list Frederick Burr Scholl as the organist on opening night. At least he's the one credited in the program. Kurt comments:
A view of the console that appeared in the February 4, 1928 issue of Motion Picture News in an article about the theatre's communications systems titled "Brain and Arms of Showmanship...." Thanks to Mike Hume for making it available as a pdf. There were actually two consoles, one at either end of the pit. The one at house left was a dummy, just there for symmetry. The photo also appears on the site Pipe Organ Database, a listing that also includes some notes about the instrument by Eric Schmiedeberg.Fox West Coast gave the organ to the Catholic Diocese of Los Angeles in 1957 and much of it ended up installed at St. Finbar's Church in Burbank. Tom DeLay comments: "Ken Crome said the Chinese Diaphones were cut up by his father when the organ was removed by Lee Haggart to go to the church. Things were done to that poor organ that should not have been done to a pump reed organ." The console, now minus its Chinese ornamentation, is installed at the Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto.
The cover of the Chinese Theatre program for "The Gaucho," a United Artists release with Douglas Fairbanks. This was the theatre's second attraction, opening November 4, 1927 for a twelve week run. With the film was the Grauman prologue "Argentine Nights."
The first talkie to play the Chinese was "White Shadows in the South Seas" (MGM) which opened August 3, 1928. Edwin Schallert reviewed the presentation in "Crowd Throngs To Reopening," his August 5 story for the Times. Some of his comments:
"The first presentation of sound pictures at Grauman's Chinese Theater was accomplished with all due ceremony last night.. A feature picture without dialog, but with a synchronized musical accompaniment mechanically reproduced, and effects -- a Fox Movietone newsreel, and a short vaudeville subject were the items chiefly representing the change. The program also included a prologue, luxuriantly staged... On the whole it did not hit a definite stride last night, and certainly the presentation needs building up..."
Motion Picture News reviewed "White Shadows" in their August 11 issue and they too were not enthusiastic about either the film or the Grauman prologue.
A page inside the "Noah's Ark" program. Thanks to Cochise Miller for sharing these two images on the Vitaphone Project private Facebook group. The film got 5 pages of ads and
photos in the November 3 issue of Motion Picture News.
of the early sound films getting an even longer run was "Broadway Melody"
(MGM) which opened February 1, 1929 for a 19 week engagement. It's considered the first talkie musical.
"Sid Grauman to Turn Producer" was the headline for an April 1929 L.A. Times story located by David Saffer. They noted that after a bit of vacation in Europe he planned to return and build a studio between Culver City and Santa Monica to produce both sound features as well as "atmospheric prologues." They noted:
"Grauman's retirement from the theatrical business will take place as soon as his interest in the Chinese Theater is disposed of, he said. Joseph M. Schenck, president of United Artists, also owns an interest in the theater and he is negotiating the deal for its sale... The sale of the Chinese Theater is being negotiated with Publix Theaters, releasing subsidiary of Paramount-Famous-Lasky, which now operates the United Artists Theater downtown. Grauman said the theater deal is entirely in Schenck's hands.."
A flyer for the run of "Hollywood Revue of 1929," an MGM release that had a 13 week run beginning with its world premiere June 20, 1929. Note that Harold B. Franklin of Fox West Coast put his name at the top. Thanks to Todd Franklin (no relation, we assume) for the flyer, appearing in his Movie Theater Stuff album on Flickr.
In New York a "Human Billboard" for the film was constructed on the facade of the Astor Theatre. For the L.A. run, a similar attraction to was constructed at a site along Wilshire Blvd.
This story about the Human Billboard for "Hollywood Revue" where "...real girls were used in the display..." appeared in the August 24, 1929 issue of Motion Picture News. It's on Internet Archive.
With Fox in charge, and Grauman flitting in and out, the elaborate
prologues became a less frequent part of the programming. Fox tried a
number of other things including structuring shows around a band
onstage, offering special late night performances and supplementing the
films with various acts produced by Fanchon & Marco. And sometimes
they just ran movies. And there were occasional dark periods as well.
The Chinese in the 30s: Grauman had an ongoing role at the Chinese up until his death in 1950. There were other "managers" but he was always the "managing director." Sometimes (at least in the early 30s anyway) he produced prologues, sometimes he was just around for ceremonial events like footprint ceremonies. But he never again had an ownership stake. After mid-1929 he was working under contract to Fox West Coast.
In addition to working for Fox, Grauman tried a bit of film producing and presented a few legit shows at other theatres including the Hollywood Playhouse and the Mayan. Among Grauman's noteworthy early 30s successes at the Chinese was his work organizing the ballyhoo and directing the prologue for the Howard Hughes production "Hell's Angels."
A Roosevelt Hotel Cinegrill view taken by an unknown photographer during the May 27, 1930 premiere of "Hell's Angels." Thanks to Kurt Wahlner for dating the photo. It's on the Facebook page Vintage Los Angeles from Brian Michael McCray.
For more information about early L.A. widescreen runs in various formats see the great 70mm & Wide Gauge: The Early Years page from Michael Coate and William Kallay on FromScriptToDVD.com. They list the "Song o' My Heart" run at the Chinese as 70mm although no evidence for that has surfaced. More information about various early widescreen processes is also on the film and theatre tech resources page here on this site.
was only one of many widescreen processes the studios experimented with
in the late 20s and early 30s. By 1931 there had been a lot of talk about
abandoning 70 as the new wide standard and going to 50mm instead. All of the experiments were doomed as the depression deepened and boxoffice
receipts continued to plummet. By late 1931 nothing was happening except continued
enthusiasm from a few partisans. Theatres continued to open with prosceniums "ready for wide film" but the formats were all dead -- only to be resurrected again in the 50s.
A few frames of the 70mm Grandeur film from the now-vanished website Critical Flicker. It's part of an illustration from the December 1929 Photoplay magazine. Note the Western Electric variable density soundtrack at the left.
A view of one the hand built Simplex 70mm projectors for Fox Grandeur. The photo is from the In70mm.com article "Magnified Grandeur." This first generation Grandeur machine was for 70mm only.
A photo by Carey Williams of one of the second generation of Grandeur machines. It appears on the In70mm.com page "Simplex Grandeur 70 Projector," where there's also an interior view. This dual gauge 35/70mm machine is quite different than the earlier one pictured above. There's another photo as well as an article about the second generation Grandeur machines in the August 1, 1931 issue of Motion Picture Herald. It's on Internet Archive.
theatres always had a reputation for smelling nice. The system he used
at the Chinese was called Per-Fu, from the West Coast Perfume
Corporation. An ad in the February 13, 1932 issue of Motion Picture Herald noted that it "Deodorizes - Refreshes -
Pleases." The stuff came in solid pellets, inert until placed in their
"electric disseminator" where you had a rheostat to control the
"strength of aroma desired."
In addition to keeping an eye on the Chinese, in October 1932 Fox had
Sid manage the reopening of both the Pantages and the United
Artists with the ads noting that the theatres were now "under the
Direction of Sid Grauman." But neither house got a Grauman prologue for the reopening --
the stage shows were by Fanchon and Marco.
A display somewhere in town for "Queen Christina," which premiered February 9, 1934 and went on to a six week run. Sid produced a prologue for this engagement starring ballet dancer Marie "Gamby" Gambarelli. Thanks to Martin Turnbull for locating the photo for his Hollywood's Garden of Allah Novels Facebook page.
Later in 1934 the Chinese went to a double bill policy with continuous
performances and the prologues were no more. There were stage shows
after 1934 but not on a regular basis.
Need a light? Here's the cover for the matches available at the two Fox West Coast Theatres' "World Famous Show Places" the Carthay Circle ("Showplace of the Golden West") and the Chinese ("World's Most Unique Screen Palace"). It's on the Carthay Circle History Facebook page thanks to Mark London who spotted it on eBay.
A ticket from 1936 in the Kurt Wahlner collection on GraumansChinese.org. Playing that week on a double bill were "It Had To Happen" and "Exclusive Story."
A ticket for the August 15, 1939 premiere of "The Wizard of Oz" from the collection of Alison Martino. It's an image she shared on her Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page.
The Chinese and Sid in the 40s: In Sid's spare time in 1942 he teamed up with Charles Toberman to take over the Hollywood Playhouse on Vine St. They did a few renovations and reopened the house using the El Capitan name with the first production being Ken Murray's "Blackouts." It ran seven years. In 1942 and 1943 Sid was operating the Alcazar Theatre in San Francisco. "Sid Grauman's Highlights of 1943" opened in December 1942. "Born Happy," starring Bill Robinson, opened at the Alcazar in April 1943 and later played the Biltmore, the Mayan and the Orpheum.
The Chinese hosted the Academy Award ceremonies in 1944, 1945 and 1946. Initially the events were banquets given in hotel ballrooms. When they grew too popular and a theatre was
needed for more seating, the Chinese was chosen.
Grauman's Chinese during the March 8, 1946 Academy Awards. It's a view from the Los Angeles Public Library collection.
In 1949 Sid Grauman was given a special Oscar for showmanship, the only one ever given to a theatre operator. He was still the managing director at the time of his death in 1950.
Cinemascope at the Chinese - 1953: During the 50's the Chinese was the home for most of the major Fox Cinemascope pictures including the first Cinemascope feature "The Robe," opening in September 1953. The east wall of the theatre was painted with each new title and the legend above read "Hollywood's Home of Cinemascope."
A look at the Cinemascope signage installed in 1953 for the first film in the process, "The Robe." It stayed up until 1957. It's a photo by George Mann on Flickr. Thanks to Brad Smith for making Mr. Mann's great collection of theatre photos available in the Theatre Marquees album, also on Flickr.
The idea of Cinemascope, "The Miracle You Can See Without Glasses," had been kicking around for years. Inspired by the widescreen panoramas of the triple screen sequences of Abel Gance's "Napoleon" (1927 + variations thereafter), French inventor Henri Chretien designed an anamorphic lens to compress a picture by a factor of two during photography and spread it out again during projection.
A fanciful promotional piece from Fox to convey the glories of "The Robe" in Cinemascope. It was much like the ads for Cinerama. Thanks to Martin Hart for the image on the American Widescreen Museum site. It's from page two of his wonderful Cinemascope section.
Nobody was interested in anamorphic photography until Fox dusted off the idea when faced by the competition of TV, 3-D, and Cinerama. They borrowed the stereo sound idea from Disney's "Fantasia" and the more recent stereo success of Cinerama. Instead of Cinerama's 5 speakers behind the screen plus surrounds, Cinemascope went with 3 plus the surround track. Instead of a separate sound reproducer, they put magnetic stripes on the film. Instead of a deeply curved screen, Fox opted for a shallower curvature for better focus.
The enlarged view of a 35mm Cinemascope frame shown here has the original Fox 4 channel magnetic striping and reduced size (Fox-hole) perforations to make room for 2 sound tracks inside the perforations. The original aspect ratio for the format was 2.55 to 1 and the prints were to have no optical sound track. Most later mag prints also had a 1/2 width optical track visible and were intended to be shown at 2.35 to 1, the currently used ratio.
Exhibitors had to do a new wider screen, buy new Cinemascope lenses and aperture plates, add adjustable masking, buy new speakers and amplifiers, change out their old projector sprockets and add a new attachment atop the projector to read the magnetic sound tracks. Most releases were soon available in mono optical versions for theatres opting for less costly conversions.
This photo is of the Simplex gear that probably was in the Chinese booth at the time. On the top it's a new 4 channel magnetic sound head, a Simplex XL projector in the middle (with a Bausch & Lomb anamorphic lens) and a Simplex SH-1000 optical soundhead underneath. Thanks again to Martin Hart. The illustration is from the brochure "Cinemascope - Information for the Theatre" on his American Widescreen Museum site. See the main Cinemascope section for lots of data and illustrations.
Need a light? This book of matches in the Kurt Wahlner collection marks the end of an era at the Chinese. He dates this as 1957, the year the big Cinemascope signage came down and new readerboards with dragons atop got installed on either side of the forecourt entrance. See his page on Marquees and Signage at the Chinese for a fine history.
Cinemiracle at the Chinese - 1958: The Chinese was equipped for 3-strip Cinemiracle projection in 1958 for the only film in the process, "Windjammer." For the Cinemiracle remodel the stage was gutted and much of the proscenium removed. The screen size was 40' x 100' with an actual image size of 38' x 92.'
A new booth was built on the main floor. Boxoffice magazine ran an article on "Windjammer" on April 14, 1958 which included ads for the Hurley screen and the Century projectors employed. The same issue had another article on the Cinemiracle process and the renovations necessary. "Too Exciting To Describe" was the heading on one ad running with the story.
A ticket to the premiere of "Windjammer" at the Chinese. It's from the Chinese Theatre page of the In Cinerama website curated by Roland Lataille. It's packed with Cinerama and Cinemiracle photos and memorabilia.
The Chinese in 1958 during the run of "Windjammer." Thanks to Richard Wojcik for the photo, a post on Vintage Los Angeles. "Windjammer" ran at the Chinese Theatre for 37 weeks, then moved over to the Music Box (then called the Fox) for an additional 15 week run -- but not in the 3 projector format. The Cinemiracle process was sold to its competitor, Cinerama, Inc. The L.A. Times reported the sale in an item in their January 13, 1960 issue headed "Cinerama Buys Cinemiracle for $3 Million."
70mm at the Chinese: The theatre was later equipped for 70mm. The first feature was a May 1961 re-release of "The King and I" in "Grandeur 70." It was filmed in Cinemascope 55 but had played its original 1956 release in 35mm.
A full size frame from a 70mm print of "Star Wars." It's from "The Original First Week Engagements of Star Wars," an article by Michael Coate on the great site In70mm.com. The six channel stereo sound on 70mm prints was, like Cinemascope, via magnetic tracks. Two were outside the sprocket holes and one inside on both sides of the image. The aspect ratio is 2.21 to 1.
The Chinese has enjoyed many of long runs of major films in 70mm, including "West Side Story" (December, 1961 - 57 weeks), "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" (1968), "Hello, Dolly!" (1969), "Star Wars" (1977), "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (1984), "Return of the Jedi" (1987) and "Titanic" (1997). For a great compilation of information about 70mm runs at the Chinese (and other theatres), see the 70mm in Los Angeles page on FromScriptToDVD.com.
Originally the 70mm installation at the Chinese included three Norelco DP70 35/70mm projectors, installed in the downstairs booth built in 1958 for Cinemiracle. One got pulled out along the way to make room for some gear that didn't stick around. The two that remained were used for decades and were relocated upstairs in 2001.
The theatre was equipped for all sound formats conceivable including Dolby Digital, SDDS, and conventional 6 track mag. The house was THX certified in 1987 prior to the run of "Return of the Jedi." You'll find links to more information about Cinemascope, Cinemiracle, 70mm and other different projection processes on the film and theatre technology resources page. See the booth page for more on projection at the Chinese.
Fox West Coast and the Consent Decrees: National Theatres, the 20th Century Fox subsidiary headed by Charles Skouras, was the holding company for Fox West Coast and other regional theatre circuits such as Fox Intermountain and Fox Evergreen. As a result of the consent decrees, starting in 1949 the United Artists Theatre circuit began operating a number of theatres formerly managed by Fox in the L.A. area, many of these being locations they already owned, but also including other major houses such as the Egyptian and Loew's State
National was spun off as a separate corporation in 1951 with Charles Skouras remaining as the CEO. Part of the deal with the Feds was that they would sell off a number of their theatres to other operators, reducing their number of theatres by 50% within six years. In some cases they were required to divest specific theatres. In 1951 the Fox circuit still had 550 theatres. In 1957 they were down to 275. Skouras died in 1954 and was succeeded by Elmer C. Rhoden, the mastermind who was later behind the circuit's Cinemiracle fiasco of 1958. By 1960 the holding company was known as National Theatres & Television.
Fox West Coast becomes National General: By 1963, National Theatres had been absorbed into National General Corporation, a holding company run by Eugene Klein. The top of the circuit's directory ads still said "Fox West Coast Theatres" but National General was added. Klein had been an investor in National Theatres and stepped in to organize a restructuring when the company was in difficulty. The other interests of NGC and Klein included insurance, sports teams and thoroughbred racing. By 1968 some theatre marquees began appearing with the NGC logo, such as at the remodeled Fox on Hollywood Blvd.
A souvenir book cover c.1970, when the theatre was operated by National General, the successor firm to Fox West Coast. Thanks to Christopher Crouch for the image from a post on his blog Cinelog. From 1967 to 1970 National General, under a waiver from the consent decrees, also operated a film production and distribution business in addition to the theatres. Distribution of films produced by National General and various partners continued under the National General Pictures banner until 1973 but under different ownership.
The Chinese under Ted Mann: In 1973 National General sold their theatre division to Ted Mann for $67.5 million. At the time there were 240 theatres in the circuit. The Chinese was renamed Mann's Chinese. In 1979 Mann built the Chinese Twin (also known as the Chinese II and III) on property that had been a parking lot just east of the main theatre. That building was demolished in 1999 for construction of the Hollywood and Highland mall.
It's only since 2001 that the Grauman's name has been restored to the building. The circuit took extraordinary care of the building including doing a substantial interior restoration in 2001. The Mann circuit got seriously over extended in the 80s and 90s and, after a reorganization, was acquired by WF Cinema Holdings, a joint venture of Warner Bros. and Paramount/Viacom. After the initial enthusiasm of the new partners subsided, the circuit, later called Cinemerica, gradually began disposing of properties as buyers emerged or leases expired. For the public, the theatres were still branded with the Mann name.
The 2001 Restoration: Behr Browers Architects spearheaded a serious restoration of the building's interior for along with forecourt renovation and the addition of the Chinese 6 upstairs in the mall. The firm designed seismic retrofit work including a shear wall at the rear of the stagehouse. The concession area got a renovation and the booth got moved back upstairs. The new bar was pushed into the auditorium area where booth and seating had been.
Some of the balcony soffit area that had been covered up above the booth ceiling was restored and now graces the area in front of the new bar. Also included in the work was restoration of many interior and exterior decorative surfaces. New carpeting and wider seats were also installed. PCL Construction was the contractor.
Decorative finishes wonder worker Amy Higgins re-lacquers the lobby ceiling during the 2001 restoration. Thanks to Amy for this photo from her website AmyHiggins.com.
Amy Higgins restoring finishes in the forecourt. Her work also included lots of plaster repair.
The same piece after restoration work. See scenic artist/restoration artist/plaster wizard Amy Higgins' Grauman's Chinese page for many photos detailing her work on the project. AmyHiggins.com also has information on other projects she's been involved with. Thanks for the photos, Amy!
Work on the exterior and forecourt during the 2001 project included removal of the island boxoffice and construction of a new one east of the historic building. Photo: Bill Counter - 2007
Saving the Dragon: The 1957 vintage
signage with the famously animated neon dragons atop the readerboards
came down with the 2001 renovations and were replaced with smaller format signage. The two pieces got saved by
Hollywood Heritage and the one that is now owned by the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale has been restored and is on display.
This photo of one of the dragons is from "A piece of L.A. history awaits a return to its neon glamour," a September 2013 L.A. Times story by Nita Lelyveld about the project. Check out additional photos of the dragons on Kurt Wahlner's page about signage at the Chinese. Sandi Hemmerlein also has some nice dragon views in her 2013 Avoiding Regret article "The Neon of LA and Its One Darkened Dragon."
Projection goes digital: The first digital presentation at the Chinese was "The Last Samurai" in 2003. Within a couple of years, most presentations at the theatre were digital with film use becoming a rarity -- only for special events or premieres when directors favored film.
The film gear in the booth when the theatre closed for the 2013 renovations was a 35/70mm Norelco AAII projector with a Christie platter. Used infrequently. In the #2 spot there was a 2K Christie digital projector. See the booth page for photos.
New owners: In May 2011 the Chinese Theatre and the lease for the Chinese 6 in the adjacent Hollywood and Highland complex were sold by Mann Theatres. The sale involved the business and the Grauman's Chinese building. The land under the theatre has always been leased. The land had been sold to CIM, the Hollywood and Highland complex owners, in a separate transaction a few years earlier. The initial 99 year ground lease expired in 2023.
The Chinese is now operated by nightclub operators/producers Elie Samaha and Don Kushner as Chinese Theatres, LLC. Others with ownership shares in the operation include Peter Locke, Steve Markoff, Enrique Steiger and Film Finances, Inc. Alwyn Hight Kushner was initially the chief operating officer for the complex. The Chinese 6's lobby space in the mall has been upgraded for event use and is being promoted as Grauman's Ballroom. Steven Lieberman designed a new all-white exterior lighting scheme to replace the colored lamps that had been used for several decades.
The Grauman's exterior and interior are both protected by the landmark status it received in 1968. See Alex Ben Block's January 2012 Hollywood Reporter story for a discussion of what the new group's plans were at the time for the Chinese as both a theatre and as a brand.
In 2013 the operators entered into a "naming rights" partnership with the Chinese electronics firm TCL ("The Creative Life") thus the current name TCL Chinese. A story about the partnership appeared in Beyond the Marquee. The story noted that the Chinese "is the most visited attraction in Hollywood, drawing over four million annual visitors, more than the Sistine Chapel at The Vatican." The story was also covered by the L.A. Times.
The 2013 Imax renovations: The theatre closed May 1, 2013 to upgrade projection and sound equipment, rebuild the booth, and re-slope the floor. The architects for the renovation were Blair Ballard Architects (BBA) in Laguna Beach. Adrian Glick Kudler had an April 30 story about the pre-renovation closing on Curbed L.A.
An April 13, 2013 L.A. Times story by Richard Varrier included mention of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation's support of the project and its assurances that the essential historic fabric of the auditorium would be protected. Deadline Hollywood and L.A. Times both had April 2013 articles about the then-pending project. With an early April 2013 story on Curbed L.A. by Adrian Glick Kudler there were photos from BBA showing the look before and the simulated difference after the renovations. The story noted:
The floor's new slope resulted in raising
the back row of seats to lobby level and lowering the front into the basement to allow the
installation of a modified stadium seating plan and the taller
screen. Seating capacity is now 932, down from the 1,151 that was the
number after the 2001 remodel. Don't miss
Andy Oleck's amazing 2 & 1/2 minute time lapse video of the whole
2013 Imax renovation process on YouTube.
The auditorium after the old floor was dug out and the new floor poured. Thanks to Wendell Benedetti for his July 2013 photo, originally appearing on the LAHTF Facebook page. The Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation documented the renovation process and consulted with the owners and architects. More on the organization: www.lahtf.org
A July 2013 Curbed L.A. story on the makeover had a construction update and also included photos of the new floor configuration. The L.A. Times ran an August 6 story discussing the reopening. Variety ran a September 2013 article discussing the changes wrought by the renovation. Curbed L.A. had a September 19 article and photos about the reopening.
At the time of the reopening the rebuilt two-level booth had two 2K Imax digital projectors on a lower level and two 4K Christie digital units for non-Imax films above on the new second level. There was no film equipment installed. Space space is available on the upper level for a 35/70 machine and platter if an installation is warranted in the future. The sound system was a new Imax brand installation.
There are more construction photos to see on the recent auditorium views page. The theatre reopened in September 2013 with the Imax digital 3-D version of "The Wizard of Oz."
The Return of Film - 70mm Imax: The lower level of the booth got 70mm Imax film equipment installed for the November 2014 run of Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar." The two digital projectors and the film unit were on tracks so it was an easy changeover to slide the equipment for the desired format into position at the center port.
Imax Laser projection: Imax installed its new laser projection system at the Chinese in March 2015 with the first film on the new gear being the April run of that great epic "Furious 7." Along with that was an "immersive" sound upgrade. See the projection booth page for photos and more about the booth and its equipment.
Screen size: The Imax silver screen size is 46' high and 94' wide. The floor was sloped down into former basement areas to accommodate the increased height. The first several Imax films in scope format used 87' of that width. With the installation of the Imax laser projectors in 2015 the picture width for Imax presentations was increased to 92'.
A smaller picture size is used for non-Imax presentations. The top and side masking is movable. To raise the height of the bottom of the image for non-Imax shows, a 9' high sectional berm is maneuvered into place at the bottom of the screen. Head to the page about the stage for data on various screen sizes previously used at the theatre.
The forecourt furor: There have been souvenir stands, various kiosks,
displays, and other merchandising going on in the forecourt for decades.
In the fall of 2016 an ugly discussion erupted about various carts
obscuring certain footprints. See the posts on the Vintage Los Angeles and LAHTF Facebook pages for lots of unhappy comments and name-calling.
Curbed L.A. also covered the fracas with their "Famous handprints... covered up by souvenir stalls" story on October 2. More comments on Vintage L.A. followed an October 2 post about the story on Curbed. And, of course, there was a petition. VLA declared victory in an October 3 post. There were followup stories in the Hollywood Reporter ("Vendor carts removed...") and on Curbed ("...famous handprints no longer blocked...").
A new ground lease and TCL redux: The 99 year lease on the property the theatre is located on was renewed in 2022. It was set to expire in 2023. The current owner of the land is not known. Had a renewal not been negotiated, the building would have reverted to the property owners.
It was announced in January 2023 that the TCL naming rights deal had
been renewed. The PR man for the Chinese, Jerry Digney, noted that it
was for another ten year period. See a January 6 story in Boxoffice.
The Chinese in the Movies: Grauman's Chinese has had leading or supporting roles in an amazing number of movies.
A washed up star thought dead comes back to take revenge on the director and actors doing a remake of what had been his greatest triumph in Robert Florey's "The Preview Murder Mystery" (Paramount, 1936). This shot is from footage of the Chinese seen at the beginning that Kurt Wahlner has identified as being from the April 7, 1931 premiere of "Dirigible." He comments: "You may notice a dirigible-shaped cutout suspended over the entrance. Additionally, if you play with the curves, you may see that the hanging banners say 'DIRIGIBLE.'" See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for shots of a visit to the Fox Westwood Village where the star of the remake meets his fate. Reginald Denny, Gail Patrick, Frances Drake and Rod La Rocque are the stars.
We get a footprint ceremony near the beginning of Robert Florey's "Hollywood Boulevard" (Paramount, 1936). It's all about the fleeting nature of fame in the town and what happens when a largely forgotten star's salacious memoirs appear in a scandal magazine. John Halliday, Marsha Hunt and Robert Cummings are featured. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for a couple more screenshots including a view of the the El Capitan as we look down the street of the title.
In 1937 Janet Gaynor comes to Hollywood and her first stop is the Chinese Theatre forecourt in William Wellman's "A Star is Born" (Selznick International). See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for two more views from the film. It played the Chinese for all of one week beginning April 20.
In "Star Dust" (Fox, 1940) aspiring stars Linda Darnell and John Payne
try out footprints at the Chinese. Walter Lang directed. The film also
Young, Charlotte Greenwood, Donald Meek and William Gargan. The
cinematography was by J.
Peverell Marley. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for seventeen more shots from scenes at the theatre.
Toward the end of Richard Fleischer's counterfeiting tale "Trapped" (Eagle-Lion, 1949) we get a nice U-turn by the cops in front of the Chinese. The film stars Lloyd Bridges, Barbara Payton and John Holt. A real treat is the finale (including an electrocution) at the Los Angeles Railway's streetcar barns at 7th and Central. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for a shot of the Paramount / El Capitan and a quick look at the Holly Theatre, then called the Hollywood Music Hall.
Lizabeth Scott and Arthur Kennedy are out driving when a suitcase of money mistakenly gets thrown into their car near the beginning of Byron Haskin's "Too Late For Tears," also known as "Killer Bait." (United Artists, 1949). On their way home they do a quick drive-by the Chinese. Dan Duryea comes looking for the money. Christine Miller and Don DeFore are also involved.
We get shots of the 1950 Christmas Parade passing the Chinese in William Castle's "Hollywood Story" (Universal-International, 1951). It stars Richard Conte as a producer who rents the Chaplin Studios and decides to make a film about a silent film director killed on the lot years earlier. It's loosely based on the still-unsolved 1922 murder of William Desmond Taylor. We get lots of cameos by silent stars plus Julie Adams, Jim Backus, Fred Clark, Henry Hull and Paul Cavanagh. The cinematography was by Carl E. Guthrie. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for three more shots at the Chinese plus a look at the Admiral Theatre from the opening credits.
The Chinese sort of bookends Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly's "Singin' In The Rain" (MGM, 1952) with nice scenes at the beginning and end of the film. We get lovely facade views (both times enhanced by matte painting work for the signage) plus a forecourt scene at the beginning of the film -- but it's an MGM set. The interior views (the one above is from near the beginning of the film) are also not shot in the Chinese itself. We see the interior set again at the end with Debbie Reynolds running up the aisle. A few more shots from "Singin' In The Rain" are on the Historic L.A.Theatres In Movies post.
Although we're headed to the Shrine Auditorium, George Cukor tries to pretend it's in Hollywood at the beginning of "A Star is Born" (Warner Bros., 1954). This shot was taken across from the Chinese during the 1953 premiere of "The Robe." See the post on the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies site for several more Hollywood Blvd. shots as well as many at the Shrine Auditorium.
Lucy digs up the forecourt in a 1955 episode of "I Love Lucy." Thanks to Kurt Wahlner for the screenshot. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for additional photos from the episode.
In Frank Tashlin's "Hollywood or Bust" (Paramount, 1956) we have this nice forecourt view as part of a process shot during the opening credits. The Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis film comes back to the Chinese for a premiere later, but they use studio sets. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for several more shots from the film.
We get this nice view east on Hollywood Blvd. in the Jerry Lewis film "The Errand Boy" (Paramount, 1961) but the rest of the Chinese that we see for a preview is done on studio sets. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post about the film for the faux-Chinese set, a look at the Fox Westwood Village and several fine aerial views of Hollywood that begin the film.
theatre is seen several minutes into Dennis Ray Steckler's "Wild Guitar" (Fairway
International, 1962). We also get views of the Egyptian and the Pantages.
The full film is available on YouTube. Arch Hall, Jr. and Nancy Czar star.
We get a wander through the forecourt in the 16 minute documentary short "Stopover in Hollywood" (Paramount, 1963). See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for a screenshot.
We get a look at the facade in "What A Way To Go!" (Fox, 1964) as one of Shirley MacLaine's husbands, Pinky (Gene Kelly), has his film premiered there. He later gets trampled by the mob. Note that this is old footage with the show's title matted in. Look at the age of the vehicles. Also, in '64 there was no signage across the arch.
Kim Novak pays a visit to the Chinese early in Robert Aldrich's "The Legend of Lylah Clare" (MGM, 1968). The film, a sordid satire of Hollywood, stars Kim Novak as no-good star Lylah as well as the actress Elisa who stars in a biopic about her years later. Thanks to Kurt Wahlner of GraumansChinese.org for the screenshot. Of course we come back later for a big outside premiere scene -- and a look inside the theatre. Several more shots from the film showing the Chinese, plus a peek at the El Capitan, are on the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post.
We get a view of the Chinese and the Hollywood Hotel beyond in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather" (Paramount, 1972). The shot is from 1944. Note the signage still employed in the parking lot east of the theatre. Kurt Wahlner on his Chinese Theatre site notes that "Climax" and "San Diego I Love You" are playing. Thanks to Patrick Sweeney for the screenshot, a post of his on the Los Angeles Theatres Facebook page. It's now also on the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post about the film.
Where do you visit if you want to become a star? The Chinese, of course. Philomena Nowlin does that in the opening sequence of "Miss Melody Jones" (American Films Ltd., 1972). See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for three more fuzzy shots of the Chinese from the film.
The Chinese appears in Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles" (Warner Bros., 1974). Cinematography was by Joseph Biroc who six years earlier had shot the Chinese in "The Legend of Lylah Clare." See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for an exterior view as well. Note the cows in this lobby shot. Harvey Korman is buying a box of Raisinets.
The Chinese makes an appearance in "Black Starlet" (Omni Pictures, 1974). See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post about the film for a screenshot.
The facade shows up during a premiere turned riot in "The Day of the Locust" (Paramount, 1975) but the shooting was actually done on a set rather than at the theatre. Thanks to the site Films in Films for the screenshot. The film actually does go inside a real theatre when they visit the Fox Ritz on Wilshire Blvd. when they're supposedly going to the movies in Glendale. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for shots from that scene.
One of the dragons gets a quick cameo during a musical number in "The First Nudie Musical" (Paramount, 1976). The book, music, and lyrics for the movie are by Bruce Kimmel. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for sixteen more shots from the film including more views of Hollywood marquees and a look at the lobby of the Fox Venice.
An aspiring starlet played by Candice Rialson hits Hollywood and, of
course, visits the Chinese near the beginning of "Hollywood
Boulevard." (New World Pictures, 1976). The film about "the street where
starlets are made" features Mary Woronov, Paul Bartel and Jonathan Kaplan. Direction was by Joe Dante and Allan Arkush. Jamie Anderson
did the cinematography. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for shots of the Monica/Pussycat Theatre and the Gilmore Drive-In from the film.
Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong drive by the Chinese in a truck made of marijuana in Lou Adler's "Up In Smoke" (Paramount, 1978). Also featured are Wally Ann Wharton, Zane Buzby, Stacy Keach, Strother Martin and Edie Adams. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for several more shots from the film as well as a promo shot done in the Chinese forecourt.
We get a look at the Chinese while we're cruising the town in Martha Coolidge's "Valley Girl" (Atlantic Releasing, 1983) with Nicholas Cage and Deborah Foreman. Thanks to Chas Demster for the screenshot on his Filming Locations of Chicago and Los Angeles blog. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post about the film for several shots of the Sherman Theatre.
We see a lot of Hollywood Blvd. in Robert Vincent O'Neill's "Angel" (New World, 1984). Fifteen year old Molly is a high school student by day, a hooker by night. Here we're in front of the Roosevelt Hotel looking toward the Chinese and the Chinese Twin. The film stars Donna Wilkes, Cliff Gorman, Dick Shawn and Rory Calhoun. John Diehl is the killer preying on teenage hookers. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for a dozen shots from the film.
Kevin Kline floats over the Chinese in a dream sequence in
Lawrence Kasdan's film "Grand Canyon" (20th Century Fox, 1991). Also
featured are Steve Martin, Danny Glover, Mary McDonnell, Mary Louise
Parker and Alfre Woodard. The film was written by Lawrence and Meg
Kasdan. The cinematography was by Owen Roizman.
We get this grainy 1968 shot as part of a very brief Hollywood tour when Ike Turner (Laurence Fishburne) and his wife Tina (Angela Bassett) move to L.A. in Brian Gibson's "What's Love Got To Do With It" (Touchstone Pictures, 1993). The theatre was running "No Way To Treat a Lady" with Rod Steiger. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for shots at the State Theatre as well as views of the Academy in Inglewood and the Hollywood Playhouse.
Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves end up in front of the Chinese in an overturned Red Line car in the last scene of Jan de Bont's "Speed" (20th Century Fox, 1994). The Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post also has another shot that's looking east.
We have a brief look at the Chinese in "Forrest Gump" (Paramount, 1994). The guy getting out of the car is going to ask Robin Wright, sitting there on the sidewalk, if she wants to go to San Francisco. The film, directed by Robert Zemeckis, also stars Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise and Sally Fields. On the marquee they've put up some nice signage for "Rosemary's Baby," a June 1968 release that never played the Chinese.
We get this look down on the theatre in the Harold Ramis film "Stuart Saves His Family" (Paramount, 1995). They've got "Alfie," a 1966 film, on the marquee. Thanks to Chas Demster for the screenshot on his blog Filming Locations of Chicago and Los Angeles.
Kurt Russell hikes over the hills and gets this view of Hollywood Blvd. in John Carpenter's "Escape From L.A." (Paramount, 1996). L.A. has sheared off from the mainland in a big quake and is now a colony for undesirables. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for a shot of the State Theatre and half a dozen lobby shots at the Los Angeles from the film.
Frank Darabont's "The Majestic" (Warner Bros., 2001) starts with exterior views of the theatre running "The African Queen." Here Jim Carrey is walking down the aisle. He's a young about-to-be-blacklisted screenwriter who, after an accident, wakes up in a sleepy town that needs a bit of rejuvenation. Also featured are Martin Landau, Laurie Holden, Bob Balaban and Hal Holbrook. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for several more Chinese shots as well as views of an interior set inspired by the Rialto in South Pasadena.
We get a nice news-copter view down on a footprint ceremony for Robert Wagner in Ron Shelton's "Hollywood Homicide" (Sony, 2003). See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for another Chinese view as well as a shot of Harrison Ford on a bike in front of the Hollywood Theatre, a Pantages view as an evil music mogul pops up from the Metro, a look at the towers of the Warner and an aerial shot of the Music Box/Fonda. Josh Hartnett and Lena Olin costar.
In "The Aviator" (Warner Bros., 2004) Martin Scorsese's lovely swoop up Hollywood Blvd. uses some colorized versions of Howard Hughes' original promotional footage of the 1930 premiere of "Hell's Angels" but the final shot with planes flying overhead was done with a 40' long miniature set and lots of digital magic. The street views 1926 to 1955 page has photos of the actual premiere.
Most of the forecourt shots for "The Aviator" were done using a set. We do get the real theatre for some scenes passing through the lobby and at the entrance doors. In this auditorium shot note that the production designer has added a strange single-projector booth at the head of the center aisle. In 1930, the booth was upstairs. The film also visits the Pantages. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for more shots from the film.
John Travolta and Uma Thurman have a moment in front of the Chinese in F. Gary Gray's "Be Cool" (MGM, 2005). It's based on an Elmore Leonard novel. The film also pays a visit to the Shrine Auditorium and the Mayan Theatre. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post about the film for shots at those theatres.
In "Footprints" (Our Gal Pictures, 2009), we start with our amnesiac leading lady, Sybil Temtchine, waking up in the forecourt. The film by Steven Peros features H.M. Wynant and Pippa Scott. Various passersby try to help our heroine. Playing at the Chinese the week of the filming was "The Brave One" (2007). Later we go to a show at the Egyptian. The Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post has more shots.
Christina Aguilera looks out her hotel window in "Burlesque" (Sony/Screen Gems, 2010) and sees the Chinese, the Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory and, on the far right, the vertical at the El Capitan. Which is pretty amazing considering we see her going into the Rosslyn Hotel at 5th & Main. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for four shots at the Montalban Theatre.
We get this great forecourt view when Justin Timberlake flies into town with his not-quite-girlfriend in Will Gluck's film "Friends With Benefits" (Sony/Screen Gems, 2011). See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for another aerial view showing the El Capitan and the Dolby theatres as well as three Pantages shots from a breakup scene at the beginning of the film.
We get a look at the Chinese when Joel Murray arrives in L.A. after a cross country killing spree in "God Bless America" (Darko Entertainment, 2012). He and a 16 yesr old sidekick are targeting people who lack decency. Or are just plain stupid. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for shots of the Showcase, Music Box and Alex theatres from the film.
A look at a scene being shot for "Gangster Squad" (Warner Bros., 2013) in front of the Chinese in December 2011. Thanks to Martin Pal for putting it on Noirish Los Angeles. A bit more of the "Gangster Squad" shoot that evening appears on YouTube.
The forecourt is bombed in "Iron Man 3" (Marvel/Disney, 2013).
Research gone wrong has produced a product that allows a human to be
weaponized. The film stars Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth
Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau, Rebecca Hall and Ben
Kingsley. Shane Black directed. The cinematography was by John Toll. See
the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for more eight more shots of the action, including one where we see the El Capitan across the street as one of the perps leaves the scene.
The 1964 premiere of "Mary Poppins" gets recreated in "Saving Mr. Banks" (Disney, 2013), a film about the battle by Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) to get the rights to film the book by P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson). The shot here is a nice combination of old footage around the edges (top of the building, flashing dragon marquees, etc.) and new stuff in the middle. Note the absence of the forecourt boxoffice and long canopy to the entrance that would have been there at the time. Scroll down to 1964 on the street views 1955 to present page for a look at the actual premiere.
We get a drive-by of the Chinese running "The King and I" in Grandeur 70 in 1961 near the beginning of Warren Beatty's "Rules Don't Apply" (20th Century Fox, 2016). The movie features Alden Ehrenreich, Lily Collins and Annette Bening. In some other nice archival footage we get to look at the Vogue and the Egyptian as well. See the Historic L.A. Theatres In Movies post for those views.
We see a lot of action in front of the Chinese in Fred Durst's "The Fanatic" (Quiver Distribution, 2019). John Travolta plays a fan with behavioral issues who gets carried away when his favorite star won't give him an autograph. Also starring are Ana Golja as a friend who tries to help and Devon Sawa as the star who gets into big trouble by not being a good celebrity. Conrad Hall was the cinematographer. See the Historic L.A. Theatres in Movies post for several more Hollywood Blvd. shots.
Australian director Rob Murphy pays a visit to the Chinese in "Splice Here: A Projected Odyssey"
(Picture Start, 2022). His film tracks the decline of projection on
film and interviews projectionists, archivists and historians who are
helping keep the tradition alive. Local interviewees include
Quentin Tarantino, Leonard Maltin,
Douglas Trumbull, Cinerama restorer Dave Strohmaier, former Cinematheque
programmer Dennis Bartok and projectionists Paul Rayton, Mike
Schleiger and Ben Tucker. The cinematography was by Joanne
Donahoe-Beckwith. The film also visits the Warner Hollywood, the Egyptian and the Cinerama Dome.
IMDb has a page on the Chinese Theatre with a list of many more films using it as a location. And, of course, you can always check out the Theatres in Movies site.
The Chinese on Video: You shouldn't miss Andy Oleck's terrific 2 & 1/2 minute time lapse video of the whole 2013 Imax renovation process on YouTube. Visit the theatre in a 3 minute 2012 "Grauman's Chinese Behind The Scenes" LA Observed tour featuring LAHTF's Hillsman Wright. Also see the 12 minute "Grauman's Chinese Theater: The Tour" by Ms. Random Notes from 2012.
GraumansChinese.org, the impeccably researched website by Chinese Theatre historian Kurt Wahlner. Sections include: every film to play the Chinese | signage | Academy Awards at the Chinese | quick view timeline | projection and sound | Also see "Fan's website for Grauman's Chinese Theatre cements its lore," a March 2018 article about Wahlner by David Allen appearing on the O.C. Register website.
Mary Mallory's "Grauman's Chinese Theatre Turns 90" is a fine article on the Daily Mirror blog about the construction and opening.
See the extensive page on Grauman's Chinese on Cinema Treasures and don't miss the photo section. There are a few more interior shots for you to peruse on the Cinema Tour page. Chinese CEO Alwyn Hight Kushner got a nice write up about her job in a January 2015 L.A. Times story.
The orange border is from the original Chinese Theatre stationery. Thanks to actor Stephen Stanton for once including it on his website stephenstanton.com. That link will now get you to his IMDb page. He was a manager at the theatre in the early 80s.
Photo sets of interest include the 2012 LAHTF tour sets by Albert Domasin, Hot Patootie and Michelle Gerdes. And check out Sandi Hemmerlein's Avoiding Regret blog post about the tour. See the Curt Teich Postcard Archive for more Chinese Theatre postcards.
Floyd Bariscale's 2007 Big Orange Landmarks article on Grauman's Chinese is highly recommended. From Script to DVD's Chinese Theatre page by Michael Coate and William Kallay has lots of great photos.
For a run-down on the declining fortunes of the Fox West Coast / National General / Mann Theatres empire see the 2009 posts on Cinelog by Christopher Crouch: "End Credits," "Rise and Fall" and "National General's Chinese."
See Martin Turnbull's blog "The Garden of Allah Novels" and especially his post about the Chinese forecourt: "The Most Famous Slab of Concrete in the World" for a history of Sid Grauman and the Chinese.
Wikipedia's article on the Chinese Theatre has, among other things, a full rundown of the dates of the stars' imprints in the forecourt concrete. Wikipedia also has an article about National General Pictures. There are, of course, many photos of the Chinese on Yelp.
For a lavishly illustrated history of the Chinese (and some Egyptian stuff as well) see the March 2015 GlamAmor article by Kimberly Truhler "Out & About--Hollywood's Historic TCL Chinese Theatre Still Takes Center Stage." The article, with over 70 photos, features many historic views grabbed without specific credits from a variety of sources as well as some nice views of the interior taken recently by Ms. Truhler.
More about Sid Grauman: The definitive book on the career of Sid Grauman has yet to be written. The best we have so far is Charles Beardsley's "Sid Grauman: Hollywood's Master Showman" (Cornwall Books, 1983). It's available on Amazon. See "Diary of a Celluloid Girl" for a nice 2011 blog post about Sid Grauman. Wikipedia also has an article on Sid Grauman.
His first Los Angeles theatre was the Million Dollar in 1918 at 3rd and Broadway. He took over the Rialto on Broadway in 1919, opened the Egyptian Theatre in 1922, and the Metropolitan at 6th & Hill (later called the Paramount) in 1923. His downtown interests were sold to Paramount in 1923 -- Jesse Lasky and later Adolph Zukor had already been partners before Sid's exit. Soon after the Chinese opened he turned over his interest in the Egyptian to West Coast Theatres.
Grauman partnered with Charles Toberman again in 1942 by taking over the Hollywood Playhouse following a bank foreclosure. They renamed it the El Capitan and had a long success beginning with a seven year run of Ken Murray's "Blackouts."
See "Sid Grauman's Theatre History," an article by Walter Greene in the July 27, 1929 issue of Motion Picture News. It was the beginning of a 17 page section of ads and tributes on the occasion of Sid's supposed retirement. It's on Internet Archive.
The Grauman's Chinese pages:
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