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Egyptian Theatre: the forecourt


1922 - The Egyptian's October 18 opening night crowd -- and the first Hollywood premiere. The film was "Robin Hood" with Douglas Fairbanks. The photo appeared on the Facebook page Bizarre Los Angeles. It's also been on the SoCal Historic Architecture Facebook page as a post of Nile Hight and on the Water and Power Associates Museum page "Early L.A. Buildings (1900-1925) page 3."



1922 - A postcard view of the new theatre's forecourt in the California State Library collection. Note that the signage isn't saying "Egyptian" yet. 



1922 - A look at the fake east doors in the forecourt from the October 27, 1922 issue of the local newspaper "Holly Leaves." That caption reads: "Grauman's Hollywood Theater -- Las Palmas Entrance. Showing Egyptian motif as carried out in open court by Meyer and Holler, the Architects." Thanks to Cezar Del Valle for the find, included in his Theatre Talks blog post about Grauman's Egyptian.



1922 -  A peek through the columns in a view in the USC Digital Library collection from the California Historical Society. The photo was used as part of an ad for California Stucco.

"Grauman's Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, California, famous the world over for its unique, distinctive Egyptian architecture, is finished with California Stucco. This remarkable structure vividly portrays the possibilities of this material, for the architect can produce in California Stucco almost any architecture he can conceive. Grauman's Egyptian Theater was designed and built by Meyer & Holler, Inc., of Los Angeles."



1922 - A street view from the USC Digital Library collection taken during the run of "Robin Hood." This was used as part of the same ad for California Stucco as the photo above. Grauman has added a couple big pots to the look since the opening.



c.1922 - The forecourt's steps to nowhere --"Stairs like those that run to roof tops in distant Asia Minor give access to the planes above, where one may view the front of the decorated theater from a charming angle."

The photo was included in "A Theater Designed in the Egyptian Style," an article by Frederick Jennings in the March 1923 issue of Architect and Engineer about the new theatre that featured forecourt views, auditorium photos, and a floorplan. It's on Internet Archive.



c.1922 - Looking out from the entrance into the forecourt "which would have delighted the eye of Cheops himself." Those are the boxoffice windows over on the right. The photo is from the March 1923 issue of Architect and Engineer.



c.1922 - The forecourt from the street. It's a photo in the New York Public Library collection. The shot is included in the article about the theatre in the March 1923 issue of Architect and Engineer, where it comes with the following caption: "Lined on the right with palm trees and potted plants that embower a sparkling fountain, the transmosaic left martials a row of Oriental shops that will delight the theater's patrons."



c.1922 - Thanks to the superb Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection for this forecourt view.  Mr. Torrence is the author of "Hollywood, The First 100 Years," available on Amazon, and the 2012 book "The Hollywood Canteen." He's the grandson of legendary Hollywood developer C.E. Toberman, who built the El Capitan, Egyptian, and Chinese theatres, along with many other landmark buildings.



c.1922 - A west wall photo from the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection.

The amazing collection has over 30 exterior views of the Egyptian Theatre for you to browse. Other forecourt views include: east forecourt stairs - 1922 | looking toward the entrance - 1923 | guests' registry book - 1924 | another registry shot | yet another registry book view | toward the entrance - 1925 | Grauman & staff - 1926 |



c.1922 - A fine postcard look at the forecourt's west wall. The suspicion is that the "Egyptian" lettering for the card was added by an artist to an earlier photo. Note that we don't yet have that little readerboard up on the roof -- it got installed before the "Egyptian" did. It's a card in the California State Library collection.



c.1922 -  The Egyptian usherettes. It's a famous card that shows up in many collections -- this one is the version in the California State Library collection. The same card elsewhere: All Posters | David and Noelle's Movie History | Found Image Press | Art.com |



c.1922 - A postcard in the California State Library collection. 



1923 - A forecourt view from Cezar Del Valle's Theatre Talks collection. He notes that the billboard at right is advertising "The Covered Wagon," the second film to play the theatre. It opened April 10 and ran almost eight months. Also see the version of the card with slightly different coloration from the great collection of Brian Michael McCray. Thanks Cezar and Brian! The California State Library also has a version of this one.

More forecourt views in the California State Library collection: Liliputians for a prologue | Indian blanket weaver |



1923 - The forecourt in a Los Angeles Public Library photo. Note the drapes at the sides of the entrance. A version of this one is also in the collection of the L.A. County Museum of Natural History and there's one in the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection as well.



1924 - The forecourt decorated for the run of "The Thief of Bagdad." The photo, in the Los Angeles Public Library collection, comes from Marc Wanamaker's Bison Archives collection. The photo also appears in the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection.

"Thief of Bagdad" was the fourth film to play the Egyptian, opening July 10. Before that there was a seven month run of "The 10 Commandments" beginning December 4, 1923. 



1924 - The entrance lettering -- with a new "Egyptian" line added. It's a photo in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.  Note the little readerboard at top telling us that "The Thief of Bagdad" is still playing.



1925 - An ad for the Russwin hardware that was employed at the Egyptian. Thanks to theatre researcher Michelle Gerdes for finding it on eBay.



c.1925 - A card in the New York Public Library collection.  What's playing? Well, the readerboard isn't helpful. It just says "Twice Daily." A version of the card appears in Elizabeth Fuller's Old Los Angeles Postcards collection on Flickr. And there's another version (with somewhat different coloring) in the California State Library collection.



1925 - Thanks to Carol Momsen on the Facebook page Photos of Los Angeles for this fine photo of the forecourt the night of the premiere of "The Big Parade" on November 2. You can see the Egyptian's program for "The Big Parade" and the Grauman Prologue on Silent Film Still Archive.



1926 - Filming going on in the forecourt. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo taken during the run of "The Big Parade." A version of the photo appears on page 44 in the Arcadia Publishing book "Location Filming in Los Angeles" by Karie Bible, Marc Wanamaker and Harry Medved. Their caption notes that it's producer Joe Rock setting up a shot for "Mummy Love," a Universal release.  The page of the book is included in the preview on Google Books.



1926 - An entrance shot from the Los Angeles Public Library collection of the May 14 double premiere of Mary Pickford's "Sparrows" and "The Black Pirate" with Douglas Fairbanks and Billie Dove. The photo is also in the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection.



1926 - The long view down the forecourt for the premiere of "Sparrows" and "The Black Pirate."  The little readerboard says "Doug and Mary Premiere Tonight." The photo is in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.

The double premiere photo also appears in the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection. The version in the AMPAS Tom B'hend and Preston Kaufmann Collection is credited to Marc Wanamaker. It's also on Wikipedia where they have it mistakenly dated as 1922. See the Wikipedia article on Grauman's Egyptian for a nice history of the building. Also see their collection of Egyptian Theatre photos.

The Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection also has a shot taken the night of the double premiere of the crowd looking in from the street.



1926 - A look at a ship in the forecourt, a model of the one used in "The Black Pirate." It's a photo from the California Historical Society in the USC Digital Library collection. The Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection has view of the ship taken from out in the street. The forecourt was frequently used to display artifacts from the film being shown. It's a tradition that continued as late as "Alien" (1979).



1926 - The Egyptian was one of the first Los Angeles theatres to be wired for sound and hosted the west coast premiere of Warner's Vitaphone feature "Don Juan," opening August 20 for about a three month run. This premiere shot was used by Warner Bros. in promoting the film. This version of the photo is from Pleasure Palate on Flickr where it's in a fine '06 Egyptian Theatre Tour set.



1926 - A view of the forecourt taken by some uncredited photographer for Life. Note "Don Juan" on the readerboard above the entrance. The photo appears on Google/Life Images.



1926 - A Life shot looking out toward Hollywood Blvd on Google/Life Images.  In 1927 West Coast Theatres would be running the place as Grauman shifted his attention to the Chinese. West Coast would put a boxoffice out at the street and add signage across the entrance.



1926 - A portion of the forecourt west wall in a view from Google/Life Images.



c.1926 - A lovely postcard view with a cameo of Sid from the California State Library collection. Theirs was published in 1930, although Sid was no longer associated with the theatre by then. Note the Bedouin patrolling on the roof.  The Los Angeles Public Library has a nice non-colorized version of the image.



1926 - We get a look at the theatre's entrance as Sid Grauman hosts a meeting of an early exhibitors organization, the Motion Picture Theatre Owners of America. Thanks to Christopher Crouch on Cinelog for the photo, where he gives it a 1931 date. His 2013 post "The Parallel of MPTOA '31 & NATO '13" discussed the challenges faced by the exhibition industry at the present and at the equally difficult times then. The photo also appears in the Bruce Torrence Hollywood Photograph Collection and in the collection of the Los Angeles Public Library.



1927 - A fine postcard view looking down the forecourt toward the new signage at the street. Next week it'll be "Chang" along with the Fanchon & Marco "Sea Nymphs" Idea. It's in the California State Library collection.



c.1937 - A Herman Schultheis photo looking out from the colonnade at the theatre's entrance. It's in the Los Angeles Public Library collection.



c.1939 - Thanks to Cinema Treasures contributor Dallas Movie Theaters for this trade magazine photo of the theatre's wishing well, appearing on the site's page about the Egyptian Theatre.



1940s? - A card looking east from Elizabeth Fuller on Flickr. Take a day and browse her wonderful Old Los Angeles Postcards collection --  686 at last look. A version of this card is also in the collection of the California State Library where they assign it a date of 1925.



1943 - A view of a G.I. visiting Hollywood contributed to the Los Angeles Theatres Facebook page by Gianpiero Leone. He's in a chariot in the Egyptian's forecourt that was the one Eddie Cantor rode in for "Roman Scandals" (1933).



1940s? - A view of the boxoffice windows and an Egyptian beast guarding the entrance doors. The photographer is unknown. This area was enclosed and made into new lobby space during the United Artists remodel in 1950. The doors were removed and new glass ones installed out at the column line. Where the statue is in this photo became the niche for a new snackbar.



1946 - A look at the east side of the forecourt from the Kurt Wahlner collection. Note the non-Egyptian style flagstone masonry on the added planters. Mr. Wahlner is the curator of GraumansChinese.org, a website devoted to the history of another Sid Grauman showplace, the Chinese.



1948 - A look toward the entrance, part of a series of shots taken by some happy tourists seeing the sights. Noirish Los Angeles post #25261 includes the whole set. Thanks to Ethereal Reality for finding the photos on eBay.



1950 - United Artists Theatre Circuit gave the Egyptian a major renovation in 1950. "Few Touches Necessary in Brightening The Famous Egyptian Theatre - Reconciling The Pharoahs To '50" headlined a Boxoffice article on page 124 of the March 4, 1950 issue.

"Designed by one of California's leading landscape artists, the pre-entry court of the Egyptian is vivid with the beauty of California's flowers. Interest in the area is highlighted at night by dramatic spotlighting thrown on colorful backgrounds."



1965 - Thanks to Warren Beckerman for this photo he took looking in toward the entrance doors  during the 68 week  run of "My Fair Lady."



1983 - A photo of a mural in the forecourt by an unknown photographer that's in Cezar Del Valle's collection.



1983 - Another forecourt mural shot from the Cezar Del Valle collection. Cezar is a Brooklyn-based theatre historian with a serious enthusiasm for L.A. theatres. You can see what he's been up to recently on his Theatre Talks blog. Thanks, Cezar!



1990s - Allan Ellenberger's 2010 Hollywoodland post "Grauman's Egyptian Theatre Mural" included this pre-restoration view of the west wall mural.



c.1992 - Looking toward the columns from inside what had become an enlarged lobby as a result of the 1950 renovations. The columns were stripped down to the structural steel and incorporated into the wall we see here. The current columns are from the 1998 restoration work by American Cinematheque. In the murk to the right there's the snackbar with an Egyptian mural overhead.



1997 - The Historic Resources Group, a firm specializing in planning for historic preservation, once had this 1997 pre-restoration forecourt view on their site.



2006 - Thanks to Donna Grayson on Flickr for this shot looking east. It's Included in her Hollywood Set set of over 700 photos.



2006 - A west wall mural detail by Donna Grayson on Flickr.



2007 - The red carpet rolled out for an event. Photo: Bill Counter



2007 - A view east. Photo: Bill Counter



2009 - An eastern view from the forecourt panorama by Bryan Groulx on the site 360 Cities. Also see the auditorium panorama on the site done by Carel Styuyken. 



2010 - The forecourt at night. Photo: Bill Counter



2010 - Shop spaces in the forecourt -- now offices for the American Cinematheque. Photo: Bill Counter



2010 - Allan Ellenberger's 2010 Hollywoodland post "Grauman's Egyptian Theatre Mural" included this photo of the west wall mural. His site features current Hollywood news as well as research into lots of historical topics. See his history posts and hollywood architecture posts for lots of wonderful items.



c.2012 - The Egyptian's vertical sign, new for the 1998 American Cinematheque renovation. Thanks to former Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page contributor Laurel Canyon Rider for the photo.



2012 - A wide angle forecourt view. Thanks to Wendel Benedetti for his photo, originally appearing on the LAHTF Facebook page.



2012 - A look west toward the mural and the entrance columns. The column are a reconstruction done during the American Cinematheque renovations. In the 50s United Artists had extended the lobby out to the column line and for that project the columns were stripped down to the structural steel.  Photo: Bill Counter



c.2012 - The entrance doors. Obviously not the originals -- but in 1998 put back where the original doors had been. Thanks to former Vintage Los Angeles Facebook page contributor Laurel Canyon Rider for the photo.



2012 - A night view looking east. The stairs get you to the roof -- if you're hired as a bedouin to patrol the parapet, as was done in the early days. The doors lead nowhere -- there's a blank wall behind. Thanks to Lin Rhys for the photo.



2012 - The signage above the entrance doors. Photo: Lin Rhys



2016 - Mural restoration work in the forecourt being done by Silverlake Conservation. It was made possible by a 2016 grant from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Thanks to the theatre for the photos - this one and the one below were with an August post on the Egyptian Theatre Facebook page.



2016 - A detail of the 2016 work by Silverlake Conservation. Photo: Egyptian Theatre Facebook page



2016 - Art restorer Nathan working in the forecourt as part of the 2016 upgrade of the building. This photo is just one of many restoration views in the set "KTLA Morning News with Gayle Anderson Visits the Egyptian." The 26 photo set on the Egyptian Facebook page has many shots of forecourt work as well as discussion of roof repairs, lobby improvements and the reworking of the booth.



2016 -  A lovely look along the heads of several Pharoahs toward roof repairs being done above the theatre's entrance. It was an October post on the Egyptian Theatre Facebook page. 



2016 - The forecourt from the top of the east stairs. Photo: Mike Hume



2016 - The columns at the entrance. Photo: Mike Hume



2016 - The reconstructed boxoffice windows left of the entrance doors. Photo: Mike Hume



2016 - The door and stairs to nowhere on the east wall. Photo: Mike Hume. Thanks to Mike for all his fine photos. His Egyptian photo set originally appeared on the LAHTF Facebook page. Check out the Historic Theatre Photography section of his website to see what he's been up to lately. You can also find his work on the Historic Theatre Photography Facebook page.

Pages about the Egyptian Theatre: Egyptian overview | street views 1922-1954 | street views 1955-present | back to top - forecourt | lobby areas | auditorium | booth | backstage | Egyptian 2 & 3 / Arena Cinelounge |

Hollywood Theatres: overview and alphabetical lists | Hollywood Theatres: list by address | L.A. Theatres: main alphabetical listL.A. Theatres: list by address | theatre history resources | film and theatre tech resourceswelcome and site navigation guide |

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