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MichelleLorraine

More Hollywood/Film History Bites the Dust! Grauman's auntion pieces

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For those of you that attended last years film festival, you will recall hearing the news that TCL would be 'renovating' our precious Grauman's Chinese Theater. Needless to say, my fellow festival goers and I were NOT thrilled-but I held out hope (even taking the hardhat tour) that they would preserve the historical integrity of the theater. Things looked hopeful until I saw the most recent Profiles in History Auction Catalog! They are auctioning off some of the hand/footprint impressions from the forecourt!! Marilyn Monroe, Gene Kelly, Humphrey Bogart and even poor Sid Grauman's. Pieces of the roof, artwork and 2 of the wax figures are also on the block. Unreal. I had to share this with all of you that love Film and Hollywood and would understand my disgust.

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MichelleLorraine,

 

As someone who lives in Los Angeles, attends the Film Festivals and believes in preservation, I can assure you that the interior of the Grauman's theater is still intact:

 

Here is what I have written about the work (in chronological order from the top down):

 

Here's some information on the minimal changes coming to Grauman's:

 

http://forums.tcm.com/thread.jspa?threadID=168284&tstart=0

 

I have a friend who is on the Board of Hollywood Heritage, the preservation group that is responsible for saving Grauman's fifteen years ago (and involved in the changes taking place now) and she shared the information that I've been sharing with people since the FF.

 

The one big change will be the steps that lead down into the theater. Those will go away (they aren't original to the theater). The slope of the theater will be altered with the addition of stadium seating but the slope has been altered more than once since the theater opened back in the 1920s. The owners are following federal standards.

 

The IMAX screen and the new sound system is said not to alter the interior except for the changes already mentioned by me and Curbed LA.

 

Hollywood Heritage saved Grauman's fifteen years ago when Hollywood and Highland was being built. They were the ones responsible for getting both the interior and exterior restored to what it looked like when it opened.

 

They are watching this very closely and will step in, if need be, to keep the owners and leasee from destroying the interior or the exterior.

 

From my Film Festival thread:

 

For those who don't know, TCL, a Chinese television manufacturing company, has the branding rights to Grauman's for five years. They are working with the owners of the theater to install an Imax screen. The changes to the interior are supposed to be minimal with the loss of the stairs that lead down into the theater. They will relight some of the interior lighting that hasn't been lit in over seventy years. They are keeping the projection booth and the projection equipment as well.

 

To see what the changes will look like: http://la.curbed.com/archives/2013/04/see_the_changes_coming_soon_to_the_tcl_chinese_theatre.php

 

Hollywood Heritage is the preservation group that fought the destruction of Grauman's fifteen years ago when the Hollywood and Highland complex was being built. They are also the group responsible for Hollywood and Highland completely restoring not only the interior of the theater but the facade and forecourt. So, it sounds like Hollywood Heritage has its eye on the project and won't let TCL or the current owners destroy anything.

 

http://forums.tcm.com/thread.jspa?threadID=169137&tstart=0

 

 

From just about 90 days ago:

 

Here's the scoop on the makeover that Grauman's went through. Sounds like everything we love about the theater is intact, including the curtain.

 

The big change besides the IMAX screen is the slope of the theater and the stadium seating. The slope of the theater prior to the makeover was not the original slope so they didn't destroy anything. It sounds like they took pains to make the stadium seating fit in with the decor and it sounds much more comfortable.

 

http://variety.com/2013/film/news/chinese-theater-renovation-unveiled-1200605396/

 

And from Oct. 6th:

 

I have heard reports back from people who have seen Grauman's interior and they report that the interior looks almost the same (though new seats, new screen, new sound system and new slope) and in some ways, improved. Seems they put LED lighting in the ceiling and that helps bring out some of the details that have been hiding in the shadows.

 

All in all, I think the majority of Festival goers will be very pleased with the job done.

 

Here is a YouTube video that shows in time lapse the work that was done on the theater including changing the slope (which I repeat was not original) and the chairs (also not original).

 

In the video, you can see that the bulbs in the chandelier were replaced with LEDs which actually improves the lighting and helps show off the ceiling more than before.

 

 

 

 

Because of the number of hand and foot prints that have been done for the forecourt, not all are on display. Many are in storage. Some get rotated out due to their age and the need for preservation work on them.

 

Some of them have disappeared over the years. Others, like the ones for Mary Pickford and Doug Fairbanks, Sr have been returned.

 

LiveAuctioneers sold the Marilyn Monroe hand and foot prints and in the catalog it says the source for the item is a former employee of the theater and not the original hand and foot prints but a slab that she was allowed to practice on prior to the ceremony with Jane Russell. Monroe was described as nervous and didn't want to make a mistake in front of the whole world. Grauman's still has the real ones.

 

It also notes that Joan Crawford was also allowed a practice run prior to her ceremony and that her estate sold the practice run slab a few years ago.

 

I can find no record of Bogie's being for sale but did find this article from the summer and Bogie's hands and feet are still enshrined in the forecourt along with Myrna Loy's and many others.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/10166991/How-long-will-film-stars-shine.html

 

As for Gene Kelly, I couldn't find any info regarding his slab being for sale.

 

The owners of the Chinese are not in the habit of auctioning off the ones in storage.

 

 

Nor could I find any info on the auction of the wax figures.

 

As for the fixtures, I couldn't find anything in the current Profiles in History catalog about the fixtures. The light bulbs in the chandelier, as I noted, were replaced.

 

If there are other fixtures, they may be from the original restoration of the theater almost 20 years ago ( that I talk about in posts above) when Hollywood Heritage oversaw the restoration of the theater back to more of what it looked like when it originally opened.

 

Many fixtures were added over the years and those were removed in that restoration as they were not original to the theater.

 

It is not inconceivable that some of those fixtures found their way into private hands and may be the source for the auction items.

 

But, Grauman's theater still looks very much like it did last April during the Festival. It still has its red curtain, still has its interior. The three changes are the new seats and slope, the new sound system and the new IMAX screen.

 

Here are some other reports:

 

http://cinemagumbo.squarespace.com/journal/2013/10/1/graumans-chinese-theater-the-renovation.html

 

http://blogs.laweekly.com/arts/2013/09/chinese_theatre_tlc_imax.php

 

http://la.curbed.com/archives/2013/09/see_all_the_lovely_renovations_at_the_imaxready_chinese_theatre.php

 

Hope this helps put your mind at ease a tad!

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lzcutter, thank you for all these fabulous updates, current information about Grauman's (TCL Chinese Theatre) and links to your previous posts.

 

This is very informative, and I'm sure members will enjoy reading them!

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lzcutter- I'm with SueSue. Thanks for the wonderful information on Graumans. It is indeed a relief to know that so much care has been taken to preserve the interior of the theater. It's the auctioning off of some of the most iconic foot/hand prints that rattled me the most.

 

This is the link to the PIH Auction Catalog. You will see the foot/hand prints I mentioned and the other items.

 

https://www.profilesinhistory.com/auctions/hollywood-auction-62/

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Suex2 and Michelle,

 

Thanks for the kind words. Also for the link to the catalog.

 

I found the slabs in the catalog and according to the notes for each slab, they are all reproductions.

 

I still could not find the wax figures or fixtures. The wax figures have been replaced a number of times as have the fixtures.

 

It is possible that over the years, some fell into the hands of collectors and those are being sold.

 

Should Grauman's owners ever decide to sell the real hand and foot print slabs I suspect a media uproar would ensue with Hollywood Heritage, the LA Conservancy, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and fans leading the charge.

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lzcutter- What a relief! I just read the hand/foot print description, for the auction, closer (and with my glasses on). Thank you for clarifying. I, like many of you, am passionate about film and Hollywood history--it's good to know that these priceless pieces will stay where they belong. WHEW...:-)

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Lynn, thank you for the links to the photos and video. This was a needed change as the theater must keep up with current changes in filmmaking if it wants to stay in operation for future visitors. At the same time its beautiful uniqueness is what has kept folks coming for over seventy years so it also had to be preserved. Both sides seem to have won. I still hope to see it once again.

 

Thanks to the video link I was also able to see the restoration of New Jersey's Stanley Theater by the Jehovah's Witnesses who now use it for their conferences and seminars. While I disagree with their theology they have my gratitude for keeping this breathtaking piece of building art from a wrecking ball.

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