Celebrating Marilyn’s Chinese Theatre at 95

Marilyn with Jane Russell at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (1953)

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (now known as the TCL Chinese Theatre) turned 95 yesterday, as Todd Gilchrist reports for Variety.

“As early as 1933, the famed movie house appeared in other media as a boilerplate for how a premiere should, and often does, look like. Since then, the theatre played itself in dozens of television shows and movies, some of which went on to debut on its iconic screen. The forecourt holds the signatures and imprints of concrete immortalisation.

The former Grauman’s Chinese Theatre will fete its 95 years by launching a full year of programming, while also navigating premieres for first-run films and special events including the annual TCM Film Festival. It repertory programming was scheduled both in the big house and at its sister location, the TCL Chinese 6.

‘We’re going to be having screenings of seminal movies that have played or opened at the Chinese Theatre over the years,’ says Levi Tinker, a 22-year veteran of the theatre who serves as its operations manager and historian. ‘We’re also trying to work together on some panels with some of the celebrities that have had a relationship with the theater over the years as well. And later on this summer for Marilyn Monroe’s birthday, we’re going to be working on doing a film festival in celebration of her.’

Following the 1922 opening of the Egyptian Theatre just a few blocks down Hollywood Boulevard, owner Sid Grauman contracted its designer, the firm Meyer & Holler, to create a second theater inspired by Chinese architecture.

In front of its pagoda exterior are hand and foot impressions of 334 industry luminaries … Although there’s more than one alleged origin story for the tradition, Tinker echoes the theater’s official account crediting actor Norma Talmadge for inspiring it after accidentally stepping in wet concrete … ‘People love coming out there and standing literally in the feet of the people who entertain them from when they were kids until adults,’ Tinker adds.”

Meanwhile, Spectrum News reported on last night’s unveiling of a plaque for Sid Grauman, including an appearance by Monroe tribute artist Jessica ‘Sugar’ Kiper.

“Wednesday’s celebration featured a cake-cutting by a Marilyn Monroe impersonator, who also twirled her white dress in the forecourt where her character is immortalised.

Greg Schreiner, president of the Marilyn Remembered Fan Club, said the theater ‘played a large role in Marilyn Monroe’s early life.’

‘As a young girl living with a foster family in Hollywood, she would spend her weekends watching and re-watching whatever film was playing at this theatre, and dreaming of one day becoming a movie star herself,’ he said. ‘On June 26, 1953, that dream came true when she formally placed her footprints and handprints in the forecourt of this theatre.'”