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October 17, 2013

Susan Marg

On Hollywood Boulevard:

Something Old, Something New

Some of the cast of Ocean's Eleven? No, it's Harpo, Groucho, Zeppo, and Chico Marx with Sid Grauman - 1933.  Photo from: Dennis Amith

Some of the cast of Ocean’s Eleven? No, it’s Harpo, Groucho, Zeppo, and Chico Marx with Sid Grauman – 1933. Photo from: Dennis Amith

Hollywood’s Chinese Theatre was reopened in September after a four-month renovation.  Now called TCL, rather than Grauman’s, after a Chinese television manufacturer bought naming rights, the venue now has one of the country’s largest IMAX screens and almost a thousand stadium seats, once again spacious enough to host movie premieres and accommodate the attendant paparazzi.

But the best news for movie fans?  The iconic imprints of our favorite superstars are still in place.

In 1927 Douglas Fairbanks, and Mary Pickford, the King of Hollywood and America’s Sweetheart, as well as co-owners of the theater with Sid Grauman, were the first to officially step in wet cement.  They each had their own square smack dab in front of the entrance.

Many others, by themselves, as a couple, or in a group, have followed.

It must be lonely on the range because singing cowboys signed for themselves and their horse. If you look around, you’ll find Tom Mix and Tony, Gene Autry and Champion, Roy Rogers and Trigger.  “Happy trails” to you and your four-legged partner, too.

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are co-located, although he got his square in 1938 and she followed, as usual, one year later.

Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy share space, as do Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Harpo, Zeppo, Chico, and Groucho, who also left an imprint of his cigar, fell all over themselves to get their hands dirty.

When Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was released in 1953, Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe were memorialized in adjoining areas, writing the movie title above their signatures. Three years later in honor of the movie Giant, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and director George Stevens left their mark on the same day. If this was some sort of stunt to publicize their movies, who cares?

Certainly not Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Matt Damon fans. A big crowd greeted them and producer Jerry Weintraub of Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen at their signing-in ceremony in 2007. As Clooney said, “If I had to be on my hands and knees with three other guys, I can’t think of three better guys to do it with.”

Do you think the Star Trek cast plus creator Gene Roddenberry were thinking the same thing when they were honored with a square in 1991? After all, together they had gone “where no man has gone before.” They are to the right of the box office. Star Wars stars Darth Vader, R2D2, and C3PO are on the left.

More recently the Twilight Saga‘s Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner celebrated the release of Breaking Dawn — Part 1 by participating in this Hollywood tradition.  Stewart summed up the experience exclaiming, “I think this is the coolest thing ever.”

If the past is a guide to the future, as an ancient Chinese proverb divines, the popularity of the Chinese Theatre, regardless of its name, is ensured for a long time to come.

© 2013 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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