SID GRAUMAN (1879 – 1950)


The great showman SID GRAUMAN will be forever known for his famous GRAUMAN’s CHINESE THEATRE on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.


I know the cinema’s name has been TCL CHINESE THEATRE IMAX  from 2012 (. TCL is a Chinese electronics manufacturer .)

Before that, it was known as MANN’S CHINESE THEATRE , reflecting the purchase of the theatre by Ted Mann in 1973.

But to fans it will always be Grauman’s, with its iconic forecourt showing  hand and footprints of Hollywood Greats since the 1920s.


The Chinese opened in 1926, with fittings imported from China. The first screening was the premiere of KING OF KINGS.

Sid Grauman was not the sole owner. His business partners were Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Howard Schenck.

In 1928, Grauman sold his share to William Fox’s Fox Theatres chain, but remained managing director for the rest of his life.


Were the theatre’s staff dressed like this all the time in the early years?  Very colorful.

Sid Grauman started his show business career in San Francisco . He and his father, David  opened the Unique Theater and the Lyceum, with motion pictures and vaudeville acts.

I love the story that after the 1906 earthquake, they put a projector and some chairs in a tent and posted a sign,

Nothing to fall on you but canvas, if there is another quake.”

Father and son moved to Los Angeles in 1917 and opened the Million Dollar Theatre. They introduced live stage presentations before the film.

Million Dollar Theater

Million Dollar Theater

I presume the cinema was on the bottom half of the building.

Sid’s father died in 1921. Sid carried on their work and opened the Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard  in 1922.

In its first 3 years, the Egyptian only had 4 movies in operation! ROBIN HOOD ran 5 months, then THE TEN COMMANDMENTS ,7 mths,  THIEF OF BAGDAD, and THE COVERED WAGON.

The Egyptian is now the home of the American Cinematique and the TCM annual Festival has screenings there.

In 1923 he opened Grauman’s Metropolitan Theatre, only a few blocks away from the Million Dollar Theatre.

The Metropolitan had a seating capacity of over 3,000. At one point it had three entrances. It was acquired by Paramount in 1929 and renamed the Paramount Theatre. It was demolished in 1960.


The Metropolitan Theatre at 6th and Hill St.


Having celebrities’ foot and hand prints cemented in the Chinese forecourt was a brilliant idea – and there were variations – Harold Lloyd’s glasses, the knees of Al Jolson, the noses of Durante and Bob Hope, Betty Grable’s legs!

Al Jolson

Al Jolson (Sid Grauman on his right)

Looks like Al’s whole leg has gone in!


With Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks

With Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks


John Barrymore's profile!

John Barrymore’s profile!


19 Feb 1933, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA --- The four Marx Brothers join Sid Grauman's Hall of Fame in the forecourt of the famous Hollywood Chinese Theater. The four brothers are shown left to right, Harpo, Groucho, Zeppo and Chico as they make their hand impressions in the wet cement with Sid Grauman directing. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

1933. The fours Marx Brothers with Sid GRAUMAN



Couldnt resist this one. Sid joining in the swirl of the kilts!


with Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg

with Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg



Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland


Ginger Rogers

Ginger Rogers



Roy Rogers and Trigger

Dale Evans, Roy Rogers and Trigger


Betty Grable

Betty Grable, with a little help from the military.


Grauman himself had his own cement block in 1946.


Laraine Day, Cecil B DeMille,Gary Cooper help Sid




The Oscar Ceremonies were held at the Chinese for three years running – 1944, 1945 and 1946.

Grauman was awarded an honorary Oscar in 1949 for raising the standard of film exhibition. He was one of the founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

He lived at L.A.’s Ambassador Hotel for 35 years.

What a showman.








6 responses »

  1. RE the costumes; just been watching “Police Court” (1932) which includes some stock footage of a premiere and the staff opening car doors are dressed in costume.

  2. I didn’t realize Sid Grauman had silent partners in Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Howard Schenck. What a remarkable man and a fascinating history.

    Thanks for including all those great photos of celebs imprinting themselves in front of the Chinese Theatre!

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