The former Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood shut down this week for several months of renovations and a digital face lift. The iconic theater held its final movie showing last week when it screened Iron Man 3, which filmed a scene in the courtyard at the Chinese. Opened in 1927 by showman Sid Grauman, the theatre was declared a historic and cultural landmark in 1968. Owners Donald Kushner and Elie Samaha acquired the Chinese Theatre nearly two years ago from Viacom. The plaza and the public tours will continue through the summer and the theater is scheduled to reopen in September.
There are many stories regarding the origins of the handprints and footprints in front of the fabled theatre. The official account credits Norma Talmadge having inspired the tradition when she accidentally stepped into the wet concrete. However, Grauman told of another version of how he got the idea to put the prints in the concrete. He said “While we were building the theatre, I accidentally happened to step in some soft concrete. And there it was. So, I went to Mary Pickford immediately. Mary put her foot into it.” Another account by the construction foreman Jean Klossner, states that Klossner autographed his work and that he and Grauman developed the idea from there. His autograph and handprint, dated 1927, remain today.