Home / China / World

Theater still making impression at 90

China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-18 07:31

Venue at heart of Hollywood plans expansion to China

LOS ANGELES - Shirley Temple did it barefoot. Mel Brooks wore an extra finger. Whoopi Goldberg buried her dreadlocks. Steve McQueen and actress wife Ali MacGraw did it facing the wrong way.

An old aphorism says that to visit Los Angeles and not see the iconic hand and foot prints of Hollywood's biggest stars in the imposing courtyard of the TCL Chinese Theatre is like going to the Middle Kingdom and not walking The Great Wall.

On Thursday, the world's most famous picture house celebrates 90 years at the epicenter of the movie business, the venue of many of Tinseltown's most glamorous showbiz moments through 16 presidents, a world war and three huge earthquakes.

The night before, veteran filmmaker Ridley Scott becomes the 304th star to sink his hands and feet into the cement squares in the theater's forecourt - maintaining a tradition celebrated by Hollywood's finest, from Mary Pickford through John Wayne and Sophia Loren to Jack Nicholson and Brad Pitt.

"It's a real honor to get placed out in the forecourt and when you look at the people we have out there, going back now nine decades, it's incredible," said Levi Tinker, resident historian at the Chinese.

"You have some of the biggest, brightest, most iconic names in Hollywood history."

It all started when movie theater impresario Sid Grauman, one of Hollywood's best known showmen, leased the former home of matinee idol Francis X. Bushman and opened the Chinese on May 18 in 1927 after raising $2 million.

Silent screen star Norma Talmadge clumsily stepped into wet cement on the construction site, witnessed by Grauman who - spying an opportunity - shrugged off her embarrassed apologies and said he would use the footprint to promote the opening.

Older than the Oscars or the Walk of Fame, the Chinese was Grauman's third LA cinema after the lavish Egyptian a few blocks away and the downtown Million Dollar Theater.

The entrepreneur imported temple bells, pagodas and other pieces while Chinese poet and filmmaker Moon Quon supervised artisans from his homeland as they created the many artworks that still decorate the auditorium.

The forecourt, with its 12-meter curved walls and copper-topped turrets, is flanked by 3-meter lotus-shaped fountains.

Two columns topped by wrought iron masks hold aloft the 20-meter-high bronze roof, bordering a dragon carved from stone, while the entrance is guarded by two authentic - and priceless - 15th Century Ming Dynasty Heaven Dogs.

Next up for the iconic institution - which is owned by a board of private investors - is expansion, with a Chinese Theatre due to open in San Diego later in the year, and then there are plans to open in the Middle East and China itself.

Agence France-presse

 Theater still making impression at 90

People visit the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California, on Monday ahead of the 90th anniversary of the iconic landmark, which remains one of the most popular venues for film premieres.Frederic J. Brown / Agence Francepresse

Editor's picks
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349