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What is Grauman's Chinese Theatre?

Grauman's Chinese Theatre is an iconic Hollywood landmark, renowned for its opulent, East Asian-inspired architecture and the famous forecourt where stars leave their handprints in cement. It's not just a cinema; it's a tribute to the glamour of the film industry. Ever wondered about the stories those handprints could tell? Join us as we explore the history etched in its very foundations.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Grauman's Chinese Theatre is a famous cultural attraction located in Hollywood, California. The theatre is widely regarded as one of the most famous movie theatres in the world, and is the frequent location of movie premiers and other important Hollywood events. In addition to the theatre itself, many visitors flock to Grauman's to see autographs made by famous movie stars in the cement of the forecourt.

The history of Grauman's Chinese Theatre began in the 1920s, when Sid Grauman first conceived of the idea of building a movie theatre shaped like a giant Chinese pagoda, to complement other fabulously decorated movie theatres in Hollywood. By the 18 May, 1927 premiere of “King of Kings,” the theatre had been finished, complete with cultural artifacts from China and lavish carvings, paintings, and textile designs. Grauman's other projects included the Egyptian Theatre, a few blocks away from the site of the Chinese Theatre.

In 1968 Grauman's Chinese Theatre was designated a historical landmark.
In 1968 Grauman's Chinese Theatre was designated a historical landmark.

The forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre is probably the most famous feature of the building, with two giant red columns holding up a towering roof. A large carving of a dragon is situated above the doors, while two heaven dogs from China guard the doors. The concrete tiles in the courtyard are signed by well known actors and actresses, and many of the tiles are also marked with hand and footprints. In some cases, more unusual mementos can be found, like the wand prints of the Harry Potter stars, Betty Grable's leg, hoofprints from equestrian stars, R2D2s wheel marks, and cigar prints.

Hollywood is a Los Angeles neighborhood, in Southern California.
Hollywood is a Los Angeles neighborhood, in Southern California.

The distinctive building was designated a historic and cultural landmark in 1968, in recognition of the place it has in Hollywood's history. The theatre is located along Hollywood's “Walk of Fame,” which immortalizes famous movie stars with plaques in the pavement along Hollywood Boulevard. Visitors to Hollywood often traverse the Walk of Fame and try to visit Grauman's Chinese Theatre as well, to admire the extensive decorations, which were refurbished most recently in 2001.

By convention, Grauman's Chinese Theatre is one of the most sought-after locations for Hollywood movie premiers. This is not terribly surprising, since Sid Grauman first popularized the idea of star studded premieres to promote movies and the theatres they were shown in. The famous facade of Grauman's can often be seen in coverage of movie premiers, and it is also featured in the ceremonies held to immortalize the autographs of movie stars in the concrete of the forecourt.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the historical significance of Grauman's Chinese Theatre?

Grauman's Chinese Theatre, opened in 1927, is a Hollywood landmark renowned for its lavish Chinese-inspired design and the tradition of movie stars leaving their handprints and footprints in the cement of its forecourt. It was the brainchild of showman Sid Grauman and has hosted numerous high-profile premieres and events, becoming a symbol of the glamor of Hollywood's Golden Age. The theatre is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, underscoring its cultural and historical importance.

Can visitors see the handprints and footprints of celebrities at Grauman's Chinese Theatre?

Yes, visitors can view the famous handprints, footprints, and autographs of over 200 Hollywood celebrities embedded in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre. This tradition started accidentally when Norma Talmadge stepped on wet cement, and now it's a rite of passage for Hollywood's elite. The collection includes impressions from icons like Marilyn Monroe, Clint Eastwood, and recent stars, offering a tangible connection to the legends of cinema.

How has Grauman's Chinese Theatre contributed to the film industry?

Grauman's Chinese Theatre has been an integral part of the film industry, not only as a prime location for movie premieres but also as a cultural touchstone that celebrates the art of filmmaking. It was one of the first theatres to be equipped with IMAX technology, enhancing the cinematic experience for audiences. The theatre's unique atmosphere and historical significance continue to make it a sought-after venue for premieres and special events in the entertainment industry.

Is Grauman's Chinese Theatre still used for movie premieres?

Absolutely, Grauman's Chinese Theatre remains a favorite venue for movie premieres and Hollywood events. Its iconic status and state-of-the-art facilities, including one of the largest IMAX auditoriums in the world, make it a prestigious location for studios to debut their films. The theatre's ongoing popularity ensures that it continues to be a central hub for cinematic celebrations and an attraction for tourists and movie enthusiasts alike.

How can someone visit Grauman's Chinese Theatre and what can they expect?

Grauman's Chinese Theatre is open to the public, and visitors can take guided tours to learn about its history, architecture, and the stories behind the famous handprints and footprints. Tours typically include a visit to the opulent main auditorium, a behind-the-scenes look at the theatre's workings, and insights into the many events that have taken place there. Visitors can also attend movie screenings, experiencing the grandeur of the theatre firsthand.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a UnitedStatesNow researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a UnitedStatesNow researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

BoniJ

The Grauman's Chinese Theater is not only a work of art, but also an historical monument. It really shows the history of Hollywood, including the actors, actresses, film makers and others, but also houses a history of Chinese culture. What a combination!

It makes sense that it became a cultural and historical landmark.

Besides being a replica of a large Chinese pagoda, it is decorated with dragons and many other cultural articles from China. It was constructed in 1920. I hope it stays standing to last many more years.

BabaB

There is no other place in the world like Hollywood. It is so unique. We took a trip there with the family and visited the Grauman's Chinese Theater and the the Walk of Fame.

I would love to go there, all dressed up in an evening dress with diamond jewelry, to attend a premier of a movie. That theater is something to behold.

I don't remember the Egyptian Theater, which is nearby, but I'm sure it is very impressive also.

golf07

When we visited Los Angeles on a trip, we had to make a stop in Hollywood. One of the places we visited was Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

We had our picture taken in front of the theatre an spent some time looking at the famous autographs, hand and footprints.

It was a lot of fun to see all of the names and most of them were recognized by all of us. There wasn't anything special going on when we were there, but it was fun to say we have been there.

We also had our picture taken with the Hollywood sign in the background. It was a fun trip and if you ever make it to Hollywood, you will want to make this one of your stops.

Bhutan

We recently went to Los Angeles on a family trip, and it was a lot of fun. We went to all of the Hollywood sites including Grauman’s Chinese Theater. It was such an amazing place. I highly recommend anyone that goes to Los Angeles to take a few moments to tour this site. I was able to get a City Pass that allowed me to visit this attraction along with a bunch of others for a fixed price that was a lot cheaper than if I had visited these sites individually.

They have multiple day passes along with single day passes. It was well worth it.

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    • In 1968 Grauman's Chinese Theatre was designated a historical landmark.
      By: Perseomedusa
      In 1968 Grauman's Chinese Theatre was designated a historical landmark.
    • Hollywood is a Los Angeles neighborhood, in Southern California.
      By: pavalena
      Hollywood is a Los Angeles neighborhood, in Southern California.