Hollywood’s Chinese theater continues to entertain after 90 years

World Today

Ninety years ago, showman Sid Grauman built what would become one the most famous theaters in the world, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. The opulent venue with it’s ancient Chinese theme, opened on May 18, 1927 to overwhelming fanfare.

Nine decades later, crowds still flock to what’s now the TCL Chinese Theatre where authentic Ming dynasty statues stand guard. The forecourt of the stars features imprints of Hollywood’s biggest names including Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Roy Rogers and even his horse Trigger.

The forecourt of the stars is just the beginning of the TCL Chinese Theatre experience. Beyond the Ming dynasty heaven dogs and inside the gates is a visual feast that has lasted through the ages.

In the lobby are elaborate murals hand painted by Chinese born actor Keye Luke. A giant incense burner hangs from the ceiling. Back in the day, it burned real incense to set the mood. The Chinese decor is throughout the entire theater… exactly how Grauman wanted it.

According to Levi Tinker, General Manager and Historian of the theater, Grauman was very impressed with the beauty and grandeur of the Chinese architecture style. He went all throughout Europe and Asia looking at architecture and he was most impressed with what he saw in China so he chose to loosely base the theme of this theater on the Chinese.

Several key pieces in the theater were made in and imported from China including the dramatic starburst medallion on the ceiling. The giant pillars lining the theater are also from China.

Alwyn Hight Kushner, President and COO of the theater, helped strike a 10 year naming rights deal with Chinese electronics maker TCL in 2013, which helped finance a major theater upgrade, which included building one of the largest IMAX theaters in North America with nearly 1,000 seats.

Peter Shiao of Orb Media on TCL Chinese Theatre anniversary

CGTN’s Elaine Reyes interviewed Peter Shiao, the CEO of the Orb Media Group, about the long history of this famous theater and what’s next for the future.