With fanfare, cake and even a Marilyn Monroe impersonator, a 95th birthday party was held Wednesday for the TCL Chinese Theatre, celebrated as the world’s most famous movie house.
“On this date 95 years ago, Sid Grauman opened this historic movie palace of the stars with the gala world premiere of Cecil B. DeMille’s `The King of Kings,”’ Levi Tinker, the venue’s theater operations manager, said during the ceremony.
“During these 95 years, the TCL Chinese Theatre has played host to the star-studded red-carpet premieres of some of the biggest and most important movies of all time, becoming the most famous movie theater on the planet,” he said.
Known worldwide for its famous forecourt, which features hand and footprints from dozens of cinema’s most memorable names — including Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, George Burns, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks — the theater is also known for its iconic architecture and ornate interior.
Tiffany Nitsche, president of the Los Angeles Historic Theater Foundation, called the venue “indisputably the most famous theater in the world.”
Grauman was “a master showman that was truly a visionary of what theaters could be,” she said. “… He always understood the escapism that audiences were looking for.”
The theater “is a tangible idea of Hollywood,” she said. “It’s the first stop on a visitor’s trip to Hollywood, the idea of a place that was once the playground of Hollywood’s favorite actors, writers and directors. It’s a connection to the past and to the future.”
Wednesday’s celebration featured a cake-cutting by a Marilyn Monroe impersonator, who also twirled her white dress in the forecourt where her character is immortalized.
Greg Schreiner, president of the Marilyn Remembered Fan Club, said the theater “played a large role in Marilyn Monroe’s early life.
“As a young girl living with a foster family in Hollywood, she would spend her weekends watching and re-watching whatever film was playing at this theater, and dreaming of one day becoming a movie star herself,” he said. “On June 26, 1951, that dream came true when she formally placed her footprints and handprints in the forecourt of this theater.”
Also to mark the occasion, a plaque honoring Grauman was unveiled that will be placed in the Chinese Theatre multiplex adjacent to the famed venue.