history//TCL CHINESE THEATRE, HOLLYWOOD

HISTORY AT THE MOVIES



The last look at "History at the Movies' brought us to Berlin and the Kino International. While its style has made an impact on film presentation, there's nothing as historically memorable as this trip back to Hollywood and one of the most famous movie houses of all time. 

If you take a stroll down Hollywood Boulevard or through Hollywood history, there is probably no movie theater quite as spectacular or famous as the Chinese Theatre. Originally known as Grauman's Chinese Theatre, then Mann's Chinese Theatre, the cinema is now known as TCL Chinese Theatre and is still operating as one of the world's elite movie houses.

After the successful Grauman's Egyptian Theatre opened in 1922, Sid Grauman set out on a new venture. The same architects who designed the elaborate Egyptian Theatre, Meyer & Holler, pieced together a movie palace designed around Chinese culture and architecture. On the outside, the theatre is fashioned after a Chinese pagoda, complete with a Chinese dragon across the facade. The exterior and interior detail and grandeur of the theatre space would help establish the Chinese Theatre as the imminent premiere location for some of history's greatest films.

One of the more famous features of the Chinese Theatre is the numerous handprints and footprints covering the concrete space in front of the theatre's entrance. The cemented milestones in hundreds of careers are a major tourist attraction and the ceremony surrounding new inductees into the cement space continue to occur to this day. The history around the first celebrity markings is debated, with many historians settling on actress Norma Talmadge accidentally stepping into wet cement. Grauman, himself, has been quoted as saying it was he who accidentally stepped into wet cement while the structure was being built. When he came up with the idea for others to put their feet or hands into soft cement, he contacted Mary Pickford and had her put a footprint in as well. No matter which way the story really goes, the front of the theatre is littered with over 200 handprints, footprints, and autographs of everyone from Steven Spielberg to Judy Garland. 

The theatre officially opened on May 18, 1927 the Chinese Theatre opened with the premiere of Cecil B. DeMille's The King of Kings. Just two years later Grauman decided to retire and sell the theatre. Howard Hughes talked him into returning for the premiere of Hell's Angels. Grauman died in 1950, serving as the Chinese Theatres manager until his death.

The theatre has played host to a number of important Hollywood events, other than premieres, including the 1944, 1945, and 1946 Academy Awards ceremonies.

On January 11, 2013 TCL Corporation purchased the naming rights for the theatre, marking its official change to TCL Chinese Theatre. In the years since, TCL has converted the theatre into the world's largest IMAX auditorium.

Film premieres continue to occur on a regular basis, drawing huge crowds of fans and A-list celebrities. Cement ceremonies continue to take place, as well, with Mel Brooks being the most recent addition at the time of this writing.

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