TCMFF: Historic Hollywood Sites Part 1
Hello Film Festival goers!
If you are coming to the TCM Film Festival, I thought you might like a few historical sites to check out, especially if you are coming a day or two earlier or staying a day or two more.
The DeMille Barn: This is the building that DeMille used in the making of The Squaw Man, one of the first films shot in Hollywood. For years the building was located just off of Vine Street near Fountain Ave. Finally, in a last ditch effort to save the historical building, it was moved to its current location across the street from the Hollywood Bowl. Today it is home to Hollywood Heritage, the group dedicated to preserving the historic buildings of Hollywood. There is a small but great museum inside and best of all it's affordable.
You won't be disappointed. It's not that far a walk up Highland from the Hotel Roosevelt. If you are walking to the museum, be sure to take a bottle or two of water to stay hydrated. By the end of April, it will be springtime in the City of Angels.
(Click on Museum for details about the barn.)
Also in the direct vicinity of the Film Festival are some of the following historic sites:
The Hollywood Roosevelt: Home to the first Academy Awards and built on Hollywood Blvd in the 1927, it helped anchor the west end of the Blvd. Located across the street from the famed Grauman's Chinese Theater, the Roosevelt was the classiest hotel back in the day. It's famed lounge, the Cinegrill, often featured up and coming singers who went on to have big careers as well as some of the best crooners of the day. It is said to be haunted.
Grauman's Chinese Theater: the second of renowned theater mogul Sid Grauman's movie palaces on the Blvd. It also opened in 1927 with the premiere of CB DeMille's silent epic, The King of Kings. It's historic neon marquee and Chinese pagoda have graced films from the silent days to today's blockbusters. In the courtyard is the famed Footprints of the Stars. Legend has it that Mary Pickford, Norma Talmedge and Grauman's partner in the theater (and movie star and hubby of Mary Pickford), Doug Fairbanks, sr were the first three footprints enshrined.
Even after Ted Mann bought Grauman's Chinese and renamed it Mann's Chinese, no one ever really called it that. It will always be Grauman's Chinese.
Just west of the Chinese (where the Galaxy theaters are (or whatever they are called today) used to be the Garden Court Apartments. This wonderful beaux-arts building was home to many Hollywood stars and up and coming stars back in the day. By the 1970s, the Apartments had become run down and homeless and runaway youths were camping out in the ruins. A fire of unknown nature razed the building in the early 1980s.
The El Capitan Theater: It originally opened in 1926 as one of the many movie palaces on the Blvd. It opened with the premiere of Charlotte's Revue. The Depression took a toll on the El Capitan but it was the host theater for the premiere of Citizen Kane.
In 1942, it was renamed the Hollywood Paramount with the premiere of Reap the Wild Wind. It was the flagship West Coast theater for Paramount Studios until the Consent Degree took affect.
As Hollywood Blvd ebbed and flowed in the post-war era, so did the El Capitan becoming by the late 1960s a seedy, second and third run theater. In the 1980s, it was bought by the Pacific Theater Chain which didn't respect the property but did appreciate the land underneath.
In 1989, the Walt Disney Studios bought the theater and it underwent a restoration to return it to its former grandeur. Since then, Disney has used the theater to highlight their re-releases of animated classics as well as premiering new animation classics.
Near the El Capitan is the former Masonic Temple where Jimmy Kimmel used to broadcast his show from (may still). The Masonic Temple also showcased a number of punk rock bands back in the late 1970s.
Just east of the El Capitan was a drugstore that featured a minature of Hollywood Blvd circa the 1940s that graced the large show window for years until the 1980s.
The Egyptian Theater: Sid Grauman's first foyer into movie palaces on Hollywood Blvd. Grauman had opened a number of movie palaces in downtown Los Angeles along Broadway St. But he had his eye on Hollywood. And the Egyptian would be the first movie palace to open on the Blvd. It cost $800,000 to build and it opened with the premiere of Alan Dwan's wonderful Robin Hood starring the swashbuckling idol of the day, Doug Fairbanks, Sr.
The Egyptian style was part of the craze sweeping the world during the 1920s with the British expeditions of historic Egypt and the discovery of not only King Tut's tomb (two weeks after the opening of the theater) but other historic milestones as well.
It's giant courtyard made it a natural for red carpet entrances. But as with the Chinese and the El Capitan, as the Boulevard's fortunes ebbed and flowed, so did the theaters. It hosted the roadshow version of My Fair Lady and the front of the courtyard was redesigned to include a large mid-century modern pylon sign.
In the late1970s, during the multi-plex craze, the Egyptian opened two smaller theaters located on the east side of the property. Unlike the Warners Hollywood (coming up) theater, the main theater was not cut up to accommodate these theaters. In the 1980s, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai and other movies premiered at the Egyptian.
The theater was badly damaged in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake that hit Hollywood hard (I was living east of the theater on Gower St just above Franklin at the time). The theater was red tagged and for along time preservationists thought the theater would be destroyed.
Instead, the American Cinematheque (long the dream of the two Garys behind Filmex), bought the building from the city of Los Angeles in 1996 for a dollar. The city's one proviso was that the theater be returned to its grandeur as a movie palace.
The Cinematheque undertook a large fund raising effort. The main theater had been badly damaged in the earthquake and in the restoration it was reconfigured to fit a smaller theater in the complex as well.
Be aware, the Cinematheque is a non-profit that is still trying to raise money to help repair the fixes they made to the building when they took over ownership. Don't be surprised by some the crumbling facade. The Cinematheque offers one of the most imaginative film programming in Hollywood.
Next door to the Egyptian on the west side of the building is the famed Pig and Whistle Restaurant and Bar.
Stay Tuned, More to Come!