Hollywoodland–Here we come again!

I hope you brought your walking shoes and are ready to take another jaunt along Hollywood Boulevard.  Just a short distance from where we visited the Pantages Theatre on Friday is an entirely different bustle of activity. Between the famed Hollywood Sign and Walk of Fame sits an entertainment mecca and trio of historic theaters, Disney’s El Capitan, the Kodak and famed Grauman’s Chinese.

It might surprise you to learn that real estate has always been Hollywood’s primary economy despite the lucrative nature of the film industry.  The Hollywood Sign was originally conceived and built by Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler in 1923 as outdoor advertising for his suburban housing development called “Hollywoodland.”  The story of the Hollywood Sign is really very interesting and spans more than eight decades. If you are interested in learning more, you can read about it here. And if you feel the urge to experience it even a bit closer, you can view the Hollywood Sign live 24 hours a day by accessing a well-placed webcam here!

My mom and I made the trip into Hollywood to accompany Aimee and the girls for an afternoon showing of Beauty and the Beast at the El Capitan Theatre.  But yes, once again we were early, so we made our way over to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Millions of visitors come to the most famous movie theatre in the world recognizing the site as home to big movie premieres held at the Chinese on a regular basis. The Theatre opened in 1927 with the debut of the original silent version of Cecil B. DeMille’s King of Kings. 

This photo only captures a portion of the magnificent design!

The exterior resembles a Chinese pagoda, featuring a huge dragon and stone lion-dogs guarding the main entrance. Due to the size and scope of the theatre it was impossible for me to take a good picture, but for more history and to enjoy a lovely full exterior shot, you might click here.  If you do, be sure to note the tab linking you to a list of all the upcoming premieres scheduled. The schedules are publicized and the public is widely encouraged to attend.  No, not to come in and see the movie, of course, but to stand outside to fawn and gush over all the invited guests. What would a star-studded event be without an admiring throng?

Look at the detail on these bronze doors!

The theater is situated in the shadow of the Kodak Theatre, current home to the Oscar’s.

But outside Grauman’s and the Kodak you must be prepared to navigate a sea of street

Can't overlook a Storm Trooper!

performers fully and elaborately costumed as film and cartoon characters. I chose to take just a few pictures from a distance, sorry about the quality, but the expectation is for photographers to tip the performers and they are a little too “in your face” and aggressive for my comfort, frequently running “afoul” of local business owners and the LAPD. I was glad that while on the street with the girls, Chucky, the Scream Ghost Face and other scary masks were not working their usual beat!

But probably the largest tourist draw is the Grauman’s forecourt.  Sid Grauman, the showman responsible for building the theater is also credited with the idea of putting the stars’ footprints, handprints and autographs  in wet cement. This really is an enjoyable destination. Everyone has their favorites! Click here to read more about the stars and their famous imprints. For example, Groucho Marx and George Burns left imprints of their cigars and Jimmy Durante and Bob Hope immortalized their famous noses with cement impressions!

Hard to choose a favorite out of so many, but Humphrey Bogart is no slouch!

I sure hope someday Karina and Sophia will watch Shirley Temple with me. Maybe?

The girls "try on" Gloria Swanson, who had the smallest feet!

So after a quick lunch we were on to the El Capitan Theatre. Four-year-old Sophia and 2 1/2-year-old Karina were not aware of the legendary past of this beautiful landmark, but  were primed to view a Digital 3D showing of Disney’s  Beauty and the Beast, with Belle, “live on stage” making an appearance before each show.

Citizen Kane premiered at El Capitan in 1941

I never turn down an invitation and opportunity to accompany my granddaughters on their adventures, but I was more interested in the architecture and renovation of the theatre than the movie itself. The El Capitan Theatre debuted on May 3, 1926, as “Hollywood’s First Home of Spoken Drama.” Designed by San Francisco architect G. Albert Lansburgh, the theatre has undergone a museum-grade renovation.  To learn a little bit more about the history of the El Capitan as well as the interesting journey of the revitalization effort, click here.

Ornate Ceiling inside the theatre

At the end of a long day we were glad to have taken in all the sights and sounds of this little pocket of Hollywood. Two visits to Hollywood Boulevard in one week is a rare occurrence, but I had so much fun I’ll gladly accompany any friends who now recognize my skill as tour guide! And at the end of my delightful day I had time to consider what I most enjoyed, and it was definitely the pleasure of spending time with my own two little princesses!

And this concludes our tour of Hollywood…I hope you might one day have the chance to visit in person. I’m always up for the adventure so just let me know! Debra

43 thoughts on “Hollywoodland–Here we come again!

    • I tried to find some specific info on the doors, Sharyn, because I,too, think they are just spectacular. I wasn’t able to find much but I assume there is more info somewhere and I still might be successful! D

  1. Debra, I so enjoyed this. I have to admit not having heard of all the movie theatres you mention, but they certainly look worth a visit. One of my enduring memories of childhood is how wonderfully ornate our local cinemas were back then, even in a small industrial town in Lancashire. True picture palaces. :-)

  2. Another wonderful post. On one of our visits, in 2002 I think, they were filming a remake of a movie (can’t remember the name but there were lots of minis (the cars) in the movie, and the street was filled with loads of these cars). On the footpath (I think you say sidewalk) there was this little stall and I spied this designer handbag with a $20 price tag, when I tried to buy it the lass laughed and told me the stall and everything on it were props for the movie. We laughed, I’m such a tourist but it brought home to me that I really was in “movie town”.
    Your granddaughters are delightful. xo

    • That’s a wonderful story, Tricia. You got the full Holywood experience! Honestly, I can feel like a tourist in some of those places myself. The movie Father of the Bride was filmed very close to our house and we all gawked and hovered like it was a big deal. So we get a little caught up in Hollywood even though I think we like to tell ourselves it’s really nothing special. And I’m so glad to share my little gals with you! D

  3. I love this story of Hollywood as I don’t travel. What a great example of how a post should be written and done. Its nice to see other things around the world as I never get the chance.

    • I love your comment, Jackie, as I feel very much the same way. I am not much of a traveler, and yet I really enjoy what others share about their own environs. This turned out to be kind of fun for me, too, and makes me very aware that we should nevere be without our cameras! I’m so glad you had the chance to come to Hollywood! :-) Debra

  4. I love your pics and running commentary of the Hollywood sites, Debra, although those “characters” are a bit on the scary side. I must admit, though, as mammoth as the facade of Grauman’s is, as beautiful the doors, as incredibly ornate the ceiling of El Capitan, and as interesting the history of it all, your Li’l Ones are the show stoppers. I hope they are allowed to grace these pages frequently. They are just too cute!

    • I am so grateful for your comment, John. I really am. I think you can tell that I’m rather thrilled with being a grandmother. I’m also extremely fortunate that my daughter is comfortable with my sharing…my son isn’t yet a parent, and I don’t think he would be nearly as accommodating :-) I just laugh outloud when I think about the images of the street characters and some of the Hollywood glitz…so completely overdone and unique to the area. It’s a slice of artificial life, isn’t it? So glad you enjoyed. Debra

    • You know Rita, as I think about it, I’ve done a very good thing :-) I’ve warned everyone to be wary if they are going to spend any time in this general area of Hollywood. You have to be very careful! Some of the characters are very kind and just trying to make a living…but how do you know who is safe? I think I’m more cautious becausse of the little ones! Thank you for stopping by and taking the tour! :-) Debra

  5. Another round of applause for the learned tour guide! Bravo! I loved this post as much as the previous on, Debra. Of course, a trip with those darling girls makes any adventure the best there is. What memories you are making for them.

    I especially enjoyed seeing the doors of the Grauman’s Theater. All that work in bronze, I would be in a trance viewing it, I’m sure. This is such a lovely reminder of all the history that Hollywood and California brings to the movie industry. Thank you for sharing so much, Debra.

    • Penny, I thought of the discussion we had about Downton Abbey and how some of our British friends didn’t quite understand our enthusiasm! At times I could believe I live in a cultural wasteland…ha! But if I concentrate on some history–whatever I decide is worth my attention–and look for art, I can find it! I have to stay alert. I’m so glad you came with me on my walking tour! Debra

  6. I have been to LA quite a few times, but I never was intrigued by Hollywood. Never went there. You post made it look all the more interesting – so maybe I’ll have to stop by next time I am in the area. You are a great tour guide.

    • You know, Otto, I can completely understand you might not find Hollywood altogether interesting, but with your camera, you could sure have a good time! Maybe you’ll now find a reason or two to think of your own photo walking tour :-) Debra

  7. Wonderfully fun and educational piece, Debra. Truly loved it! Also, thanks for stopping by my blog to read and comment – it is much appreciated! I look forward to reading more of your lovely entries. Blessings, Marissa

  8. Dear Debra,
    Not much to add to the accolades about your tour-guide expertise. Those who’ve commented have expressed so well my own thoughts on those bronze doors and the pagoda facade and the ceilings. You know I didn’t even know that there was a Kodak theater and that the Oscars were held there. Thanks for all the links.This is all rather enthralling!

    Peace.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the links, Dee. They are really fun! Sometimes when I’m in the heart of Hollywood I wonder what a tourist thinks of California! If anyone thought tinsel-town was representative of our very big state I’d be kind of sad! But it is a distinct and very fun slice of artificial life…everyone can use a little escape once in awhile, don’t you think? D

    • I hope you’ll have the opportunity to visit sometime! I’m sure you and your daughter would have a wonderful time. Of course, I think if you do come to California there are other places you’d more than likely enjoy much more. From time to time maybe I’ll share a little walking tour of areas a bit less artificial! I’m so glad you enjoyed the photos! Debra

    • Thank you, Elizabeth. I think I enjoy days like this and don’t concern myself with the high level of activity because the rest of the week I’m sitting in an office trying not to stare out the window! :-) Glad you enjoyed the photos! Debra

  9. Found you through your comment on Stacy’s blog, great article, I really enjoyed it and the pictures. I had to deal with some street performers in Vegas last year and they can be downright rude.

    • I’m delighted to share with you, and so glad you stopped by! I do the same thing in discovering other posts while reading someone I already “know”–so that’s a fun connection. I’m going to be in Vegas in March, so thanks for the heads-up on the performers! I don’t know why they bother me so much, but I think it has to do with the fact that they are “hidden” in their costuming, and it only takes one person to be overtly aggressive to make each of them suspect! I’ll stop by and visit you, too! Saw your comment to Andra. She’s great, isn’t she? Debra

    • Thank you so much, Meg. I will look carefully at what this means, but I so appreciate not only your kindness in bestowing the honor, but love that you have acknowledged us as a positive source :-) Debra

    • Thank you for stopping by, Terri, and I’m curious about your two red heads! Are they twins or simply siblings…I say “simply” knowing full well that there is nothing simple with siblings. LOL! I went to your blog and really liked what I saw…I think we have a lot of common interests. I’ll be following :-) Debra

      • Thank you so much Debra. I have two kids, six years apart! My son is in high school, daughter in college, but both are still home which is nice!! My daughter is five red heads in one! My son is so sweet he shouldn’t have red hair at all. :) Enjoyed your site as well, Terri

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