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.
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?
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
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!
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.
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.
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