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Grauman's Chinese Theatre is a movie theater located at 6925 Hollywood Boulevardmarker in Hollywoodmarker. It is located along the historic Hollywood Walk of Famemarker. The Chinese Theatre was commissioned following the success of the nearby Grauman's Egyptian Theatremarker which opened in 1922. Built over 18 months, beginning in January 1926 by a partnership headed by Sid Grauman, the theater opened May 18, 1927 with the premiere of Cecil B. DeMille's film The King of Kings. It has since been home to many premieres, birthday parties, corporate junkets and threeAcademy Awards ceremonies. Among the theater's most distinctive features are the concrete blocks set in the forecourt, which bear the signatures, footprints, and handprints of popular motion picture personalities from the 1920s to the present day.


Interior of the Chinese Theatre.
After his success with the Egyptian Theatre, Sid Grauman, once again, turned to C.E. Toberman to secure a long term lease on property located at 6925 Hollywood Blvd. Mr. Toberman contracted the architectural firm of Meyer & Holler (who also designed the Egyptian) to design a "palace type theatre" of Chinese design. Grauman's Chinese Theatre was financed by Grauman, who owned a one-third interest, and his partners: Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Howard Schenck. The principal architect of the Chinese Theatre was Raymond M. Kennedy, of Meyer and Holler.

During construction, Grauman hired Jean Klossner to formulate an extremely hard cement for the forecourt of the theatre. Klossner later became known as "Mr. Footprint," performing the footprint ceremonies from 1927 through 1962.

There are many stories regarding the origins of the footprints. The theater's official account in its books and souvenir programs credit Norma Talmadge as having inspired the tradition when she accidentally stepped into the wet concrete. However, in a short interview during the September 13, 1937, Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of a radio adaptation of A Star Is Born Grauman related another version of how he got the idea to put hand and footprints in the concrete. He said it was: "pure accident. I walked right into it. While we were building the theatre, I accidentally happened to step in some soft concrete. And there it was. So, I went to Mary Pickford immediately. Mary put her foot into it." Still another account by Jean Klossner (the construction foreman at the time) recounts that Klossner autographed his work next to the right-hand poster kiosk and that he and Grauman developed the idea then and there. His autograph and hand-print, dated 1927, remain today. The theater's third founding partner, Douglas Fairbanks, was the second celebrity, after Talmadge, to be immortalized in the concrete.

Sid Grauman sold his share to William Fox's Fox Theatres chain in 1929, but remained as the theater's Managing Director until his death in 1950.

In 1968 the Chinese Theatre was declared a historic and cultural landmark, and has undergone various restoration projects in the years since then. It was purchased in 1973 by Ted Mann, owner of the Mann Theatres chain, and husband of actress Rhonda Fleming. From 1973 through 2001, the theatre was known as Mann's Chinese Theatre, owing to its acquisition by Mann Theatres in 1973. In the wake of Mann's bankruptcy, the theatre, along with the other Mann properties, were sold in 2000 to a partnership of Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures, who also acquired the Mann brand name. In 2002 the original name was restored to the cinema palace, although the other theatres in the attached Hollywood and Highlandmarker mall retain and continue to operate under the name Mann's Chinese 6 Theatre.

In 2008, the land the theatre sits on was sold to the CIM Group for an undisclosed price. Mann Theatres continues to have a long-term lease on the legendary venue for movie premieres and will continue to operate it as a film house. The land was sold to CIM by the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation of New York and Barlow Respiratory Hospital of Los Angeles. CIM Group also owns the Hollywood and Highlandmarker retail mall next door to the Chinese Theatre, as well as numerous other residential and commercial properties in Hollywood.

The exterior of the theater is meant to resemble a giant, red Chinese pagoda. The architecture features a huge Chinese dragon across the front, two Authentic Chinese Ming Heavens dogs guard the main entrance, and the silhouettes of tiny dragons up and down the sides of the copper roof. To the dismay of many fans of historic architecture, the free-standing ticket booth was removed (which was not original to the theatre, but rather installed in the 1930s), along with the left and right neon marquees—but their absence brings the theatre back closer to its original state. The auditorium has recently been completely restored along with much of the exterior, however, the wear and tear on the physical structure over the years has caused some of the external décor to be removed, rather than repaired.

In 1944, 1945, and 1946 the Academy Awards ceremonies were held at the Chinese Theatre; they are now held at the adjacent Kodak Theatremarker.

Grauman's Chinese Theatre continues to serve the public as a first-run movie theater. Many Hollywood films have had their premieres at the Chinese Theatre throughout its history. Today its premiers are attended by celebrities and large throngs of fans as they have been since 1927.


There are nearly 200 Hollywood celebrity handprints, footprints, and autographs in the concrete of the theater's forecourt.

Variations of this honored tradition are imprints of the eye glasses of Harold Lloyd, the cigars of Groucho Marx and George Burns, the magic wands of Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, the legs of Betty Grable, the fist of John Wayne, the knees of Al Jolson, the ice skating blades of Sonja Henie, and the noses of Jimmy Durante and Bob Hope.

Western stars William S. Hart and Roy Rogers left imprints of their guns. The hoofprints of "Tony", the horse of Tom Mix, "Champion", the horse of Gene Autry, and "Trigger", the horse of Rogers, were left in the cement beside the prints of the stars who rode them in the movies.

During World War II the theater discontinued installing concrete handprints and footprints. The tradition resumed after the war in 1945 with Gene Tierney: Her star was on the rise at the time with Laura and the release of Leave Her to Heaven.

The only person not associated with the movie industry to have a signature and handprint in front of the theater is Grauman's mother. Additionally, Charles Nelson, the winner of a "Talent Quest," had his handprints and footprints embedded in the "Forecourt of the Stars."

Full list of footprint and handprint ceremonies


Despite claims by some that he did and that they were later removed during blacklisting in the 1950s, Charlie Chaplin never placed his handprints in the cement at the theatre.









Culture references

At amusement parks

  • A miniature replica of Grauman's Chinese Theatre made of LEGO bricks is located at Legoland Californiamarker as Mann's Chinese Theatre.
  • An exact replica of the Chinese Theatre acted as the centerpiece and architectural icon of the Disney's Hollywood Studiosmarker at Walt Disney Worldmarker in Florida from its opening in 1989 until 2001. At that time a giant Sorcerer's Hat was erected in front of the theater, effectively blocking the view of the theater from the street, and replacing it as the park's official icon. This is apparently due to a licensing and copyright disagreement between the theater's current owners and Disney. It is still there, however, and continues to serve as the entrance to the park's centrepiece attraction, The Great Movie Ridemarker. Working from vintage reference material, builders included external decor on this replica that no longer exists on the "real" version in Hollywood.

In video games

In music

  • In 1972, The Kinks recorded the song "Celluloid Heroes," referring to Hollywood Boulevard, the Hollywood Walk of Famemarker and the concrete signatures of seven movie stars at Grauman's.
  • In Kelly Rowland's song "Stole", the theater is mentioned in the chorus along with Marilyn Monroe.
  • In 1997, the song "Mann's Chinese" was released by the alternative band Naked. The song highlights some events at the Chinese, such as the premiere of Batman Returns, in addition to an underlying criticism about the shallow and vain Hollywood culture. The song was a moderate radio hit and also appeared in an episode of the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • The song "Walter Reed" from the album Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947 by Michael Penn contains the lyrics, "I've had my fill of palm trees and lighting up Grauman's Chinese. Tell me now what more do you need, take me to Walter Reed tonight." The context of these lines suggests that the song title refers not to the Walter Reed Army Medical Centermarker, but instead to the Walter Reade Theater in New York City.
  • In the 1980s The Theater was the setting for the first act of the Broadway Show A Day in Hollywood/ a Night in the Ukraine which featured songs like Just Go to the Movies and Famous Feet

In film

  • Stock footage of the theater can be seen in the 1937 film A Star is Born. At one point, Janet Gaynor looks at some of the hand and foot prints including a fictional set of the character Norman Maine (played by Fredric March).
  • In the 1974 comedy spoof Blazing Saddles, a gunfight between the characters played by Cleavon Little and Harvey Korman takes place outside the theater, which is depicted as screening the finished film.
  • In the Robert Zemeckis film Forrest Gump, the Chinese Theatre can be seen during Jenny's hippie days, playing the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey, which, in real life, is Tom Hanks' favorite film.
  • In the 1994 film Speed, the movie ends in front of the Chinese Theatre, which is shown to be playing 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • In the animated movie Cats Don't Dance, the theater is featured on Danny's arrival in Hollywood, and also is the setting at the premiere of Darla's film. This is also where Danny has his big battle against Max on top of the theatre.
  • Star Wars had its premiere at the Chinese Theatre on May 25, 1977. R2-D2, C-3PO and Darth Vader's footprints are also there.
  • As a publicity stunt for the movie Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, the first "star car" Herbie the Love Bug had his tire prints embedded in the cement but they are no longer there.
  • An aerial view of the theater is shown in The Godfather, just before Tom Hagen's visit to the director to get Johnny Fontane a part in the movie.
  • The Chinese also features in Austin Powers in Goldmember, at the end when they watch the film version of the events that just occurred in the film.
  • It is destroyed in the film Earthquake when the Mulholland Dammarker, which is located in the Hollywood Hillsmarker just below the Hollywood Signmarker, breaks. (In fact, that probably wouldn't happen because the water would actually go down Holly Drive and then reach Hollywood Blvd. about eight blocks east of the theater, somewhere around Wilcox Avenue or N. Cahuenga Blvd.)
  • The Chinese is also featured in the films Rush Hour (1998); Mighty Joe Young (1998); Hollywood Homicide (2003) and Borat (2006).
  • In The Aviator, Howard Hughs' films are premiered at the Chinese Theater.

On television

  • In episode 128 of I Love Lucy, Lucy Visits Grauman's, Lucy and Ethel visit the theater and discover that the cement block that shows John Wayne's footprints is loose, and attempt to steal the block to take home as a souvenir. In the next episode, they meet John Wayne and try to get it replaced.
  • On the Simpsons episode "Beyond Blunderdome", they pass Mann's Chinese Theatre. It is next to the "Chinese Man's Theatre", which is noticeably more dilapidated.
  • In the Futurama episode, "That's Lobstertainment!", the theatre appears in the 31st century as "Loew's Gaddafi's Mann's Grauman's Chinese Theatre."
  • In an episode of the TV show The Beverly Hillbillies the hillbillies perform the "public service" of filling in the footprints, handprints, writing, and even legprints that various "vandals" put in the sidewalk outside the theater.
  • In the "Lights, Camera, Adam!" episode of the TV cartoon The Fairly Oddparents, The Crimson Chin lands on his buttocks right in the wet cement of the sidewalk in front of the theater. He then signs his name in the wet cement, just like many real actors had done before. In another The Fairly OddParents episode, there is a theatre called Dann's Chinese Theatre, an obvious reference to Grauman's (Mann's) Chinese Theatre. In another episode the Crimson Chin hits the sign Chinese, and the letters fall down so it reads Dann's Chin Theatre.

In novels

  • In the novel Three Days to Never by Tim Powers, the footprint slab made by Charlie Chaplin in 1928 forms part of a time machine built by Albert Einstein and his daughter.
  • Alfred Bester's 1975 novel, The Computer Connection features a character called "Fee-5 Graumans Chinese." The 13-year old prodigy was given the name due to her gender (Fee, short for female) and place of birth - the "fifth row from the front in Grauman's Chinese." The science-fiction novel is set in 2083 and gives the impression that the theater has been taken over by squatters - Fee's family still live there.
  • In the novel Summer on Wheels the main characters want to visit the famous theater, but get lost and end up in some rough areas.
  • Nathanael West's novel The Day of the Locust's culminating riot scene takes place outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

See also


External links

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