Chinese Theater @ 85
Sid Grauman the genius and world’s greatest picture house showman, the father of the $1.50 straight atmospheric film theater with a consistent policy along that line, is dedicating next week the dream of a life time, his $1,200,000 Chinese theater, in the heart of Hollywood and just a stone throw or two away from his original de luxe picture palace, the Egyptian.
Though not the largest theater from the seating angle, Grauman has the most unique, finest and best equipped picture house in the world where the cinema flickers only twice-a-day. To give the house the proper send off Grauman secured the best picture made, “King of Kings,” which the master picture maker, Cecil B. DeMille made as he did “Ten Commandments,” which opened the Egyptian.
— Variety, May 11
Grauman’s Chinese, with the new Fairbanks picture, “The Gaucho,” got the next healthiest gross in town. Here, however, more credit for the present draw should go to the Sid Grauman prolog than to the picture. Grauman has the best stage attraction in his entire career. Trade has been rather light at the mats, but nights are actual capacity.
— Variety, Nov. 16, 1927
Another exploitation stunt (for “King of Kings”) put over by Grauman during the run of the picture was to have prominent stars set their hands and foot prints in concrete slabs in the forecourt of the theater grounds. That Grauman was on the alert for special stunts is illustrated by the 100th, 200th and 300th performances with Cecil B. DeMille as guest of honor on each night.
— Variety, Nov. 23, 1927
Exactly a year ago Raquel Torres, opposite Monte Blue in “White Shadows in the South Seas,” was an usherette at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, in Hollywood. She was known as Billie Osterman and received $15 per.
— Variety, Aug. 8
Cashier at Grauman’s Chinese nearly did a passout Thursday night when a young chap, around 22, presented a $10 gold piece in payment of two tickets. Questioned by the girl the youth explained he had held it as long as he could, but that he had reached the bottom of his sock. He disappeared into theater before attaches could obtain his name. It was the first gold piece flashed at a F-WC house since President Roosevelt called in all gold more than a year ago.
— Daily Variety, June 22, 1935
Life-size wax figures of Chinese and American personages, long one of the decorative features of the Grauman’s Chinese Theater lobbies, have been replaced after being relegated to the storage rooms for some months. So many tourist request to view the figures prompted management to dust off the display and restore it.
— Daily Variety, Dec. 21, 1937
Largely because of unusual interest by late crowds in newsreel shots of war conditions abroad, manager Spyros Cardos of Grauman’s Chinese Theater is experimenting with a policy of spotting the reel at the close of the B picture and just before the A picture for the second night show. Heretofore news went on around 9 o’clock, but under new setup it comes on screen shortly after 10 p.m.
— Daily Variety, May 21, 1940
“I went to see the opening of my new picture, ‘Whispering Ghosts,’ at Grauman’s Chinese. Sid Grauman escorted me in. A strange thing happened as I left the theater … Bob Hope’s footprints in the forecourt tripped me.”
— Milton Berle, Variety, Aug. 19, 1942
Monty Woolley’s whiskers, known in song and story, are now numbered among the hieroglyphs of Hollywood Blvd. …
With his customary dignity, Monty dipped his wind chimes into a slab of soft cement, to commingle forever with John Barrymore’s profile, Betty Grable’s limbs and the hand and footprints of a long line of Hollywood celebrities.
— Variety, June 2, 1943
Parade of lucky ticket holders to the 16th Annual Academy Awards was undoubtedly the promptest. … All the glamour that is Hollywood was still in evidence, despite wartime restrictions. Bleachers seating several hundred star-gazers were jammed to capacity and the night in front of the Grauman’s Chinese Theater was filled with ovations of varying intensity as the film names arrived.
— Daily Variety, March 3, 1944
Filmland’s names and near names applauded last night’s innovation to the 17th annual Academy Awards of merit presentation at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Screening of brief scenes from the various pictures competing for Hollywood’s highest honors served as a memory refresher for the 2,024 persons seated inside the theater and set a pattern that will undoubtedly be used for future awards presentations.
— Daily Variety, March 16
Margaret O’Brien took off her shoes and went barefoot for her Grauman’s Chinese ceremony of placing her prints in the sands of time. Sid Grauman asked why. “It’s easier to wash my feet than clean my new shoes,” Margaret explained solemnly.
— Daily Variety, Aug. 22
“Sunshine” (Sid Grauman) has gone to sleep. His memorial in Hollywood are the footprints planted in the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre by the notables of the motion picture industry.
The Chinese is “Sunshine’s” monument, as it was his last temple of art constructed for the amusement of the populace. …
Sid loved Hollywood Boulevard, and it likewise him. Last year the Academy presented him with an Oscar, for his achievement. That meant more to him than all the coin he ever possessed.
The frail little fellow was the engine that motivated motion picture palace operations and the business has sustained an irreparable loss.
There was just one Sid Grauman. There’ll never be another. He’ll be missed, and his adventures and escapades talked about a long time after he has been laid to rest.
So long, old Pal, and little “Sunshine.” The rays which you cast upon and about Hollywood will never dim. They’re our memory of one of the greatest showmen America has had.
— Daily Variety, March 6, 1950
Psycho Dictionary of Hollywood: Taboo — A ban placed on certain acts by tradition, custom or religion. The custom that a cement block holding the footprints of a newfound star must be installed in the forecourt of the Grauman’s Chinese Theater between 7 and 9 p.m., and the removal of the hallowed handprint of an old silent star must not be done except between the hours of 3 and 5 a.m.
— Frank Scully, Variety, April 12, 1950
Mona Freeman eyed the tourists ogling the footprints in the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese, hurried home and stamped her tootsies in the new cement walk in her backyard!
— Mike Connolly, “Just for Variety” Daily Variety, June 15, 1951
Marilyn’s still in N.Y., but 20th-Fox sent starlet Dorothy Ford to dress up the ceremonies attendant on hoisting the 24-foot billowing-skirts cutout of Miss Monroe that went up today in front of Grauman’s Chinese for local opening of “Seven Year Itch.”
— Daily Variety, June 17
At Grauman’s Chinese Saturday, Steve Smolak laughingly admitted they hadda concrete the chin-print made by Kirk Douglas. Reason: It was too deep, theater feared tourists might trip in the Douglas dimple! Sohelpus. P.S. his other prints remain. That’s showbiz.
— Army Archerd, “Just for Variety,” Daily Variety, Nov. 5, 1962
Too bad Gene Hackman wasn’t able to linger here following his one day off Guaymas lensing “Lucky Lady” — to hear the terrif reaction to the “French Connection II” screening at Mann’s Chinese. John Frankenheimer was taking congrats from pals in the audience.
— Army Archerd, “Just for Variety,” Daily Variety, May 2, 1975
Some thrilling day in the next century, when they break into the time capsule buried yesterday in the Chinese Theater courtyard, mementoes will spill forth commemorating the 50th anniversary of Sid Grauman’s showy venture in 1927. But they’ll find hardly any mention of Grauman at all. …
In yesterday’s ceremonies, Grauman was given one passing mention by (current owner Ted Mann). And then th
e can was entombed, beneath a cement inscription signed by L.A. Mayor Tom Bradley:
“All of Los Angeles congratulates Ted Mann and the Chinese Theater for 50 years of great service.”
Mann acquired the Chinese in 1973.
— Daily Variety, May 25, 1977
The preem of “Annie” at Mann’s Chinese theaters and the post-party in a giant tent next door, was one of the most gala in these parts in a long time. At the postpreem party, (John) Huston was seated with daughter Angelica and Jack Nicholson. Roger Minami who plays “Asp” in Columbia’s “Annie,” recalled he once worked next door to the Chinese — as a soda jerk at C.C. Brown’s. That’s showbiz.
— Army Archerd, “Just for Variety,” Daily Variety, May 21, 1982
In front of Mann’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, Daily Variety columnist Army Archerd (for once not emceeing a pic preem) was honored Wednesday with a star on the Walk of Fame. Addressing the crowd thick with Hollywood publicists, Archerd, a fixture at Mann’s Chinese preems, noted, “I feel strange being here and not wearing a tuxedo.”
— Variety, July 4, 1984
The footprints, handprints and signatures of Bette Davis, Lana Turner, Myrna Loy, Esther Williams and James Mason have all fallen — literally — victim to the sinkage problems occurring along Hollywood Boulevard. The famous cement-encased gems, located in the southeastern court in front of Mann’s Chinese Theater, have sunk ¼ of an inch.
— Daily Variety, Nov. 11, 1994
No bones were broken, but the horsing around had sides splitting at Tuesday’s preem of Touchstone Pictures’ “Shanghai Noon” at Mann’s Chinese Theater.
The chemistry of martial arts star Jackie Chan and director Tom Dey showed through as Chan jumped on Dey horseback-style on the red carpet and rode him around.
— Daily Variety, May 25, 2000
Chinese Theater endures and thrives | From the archives | New toppers polishing Sid’s jewel | Secrets of the Chinese