Posts Tagged ‘Grauman’s Chinese Theater’

Margaret O’Brien’s Stolen Oscar

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

Margaret O’Brien, on stage at Grauman’s Chinese Theater receiving her juvenile Academy Award for Meet Me in St. Louis

Oscar. The Academy Award. Regardless of its name, it evokes the same emotion of respect for those who have been fortunate enough to receive one. And for those lucky ones, whether deserved or not, it is the brass ring, the ultimate in praise from their peers.

And so it was for little eight-year-old Margaret O’Brien, arguably the most talented of all the child stars of her day – or since – who received the coveted award for most outstanding child actress of 1944 for her performance in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944). The special Oscar, which was a miniature version of the acclaimed award, was given sporadically in the 1930s and 1940s. Previous winners included Mickey Rooney, Deanna Durbin and Judy Garland, who was Margaret’s co-star that year.

Robert Young and Margaret O’Brien in Journey for Margaret

Born Angela Maxine O’Brien, Margaret’s rise to fame was meteoric. When her photograph was seen on a magazine cover, a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer executive signed her for a one-line scene in Babes on Broadway (1941). The powers-that-be at MGM saw the four-year-old’s raw talent and cast her with Robert Young in a war-time drama called Journey for Margaret (1942), from which she took her stage name. Small parts in three films followed until her starring role in Lost Angel, (1944) which was the first film written specifically for her.

At the request of director Vincent Minnelli, the studio cast her in the role of Tootie Smith in their new Technicolor musical, Meet Me in St. Louis. MGM had big hopes for this film and spent an astronomical $100,000 to build the St. Louis street on their back lot. Besides Margaret, the film included Judy Garland, Lucille Bremmer and Mary Astor, and introduced such musical standards as “The Boy Next Door,” “The Trolley Song,” and the holiday classic, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” which Garland sang to Margaret.

When the film was released near the end of 1944, critics across the country praised her performance. The Hollywood Reporter claimed that she was the hottest thing on the MGM roster.

“Hers is a great talent,” the Reporter continued, “as distinctly outstanding as the greatest stars we have. The O’Brien appeal is based on her naturalness. She’s all America’s child, the type every person in an audience wants to take into his arms.”

But it wasn’t only America that raved. In London, the film was the biggest hit that city had seen in months. The Daily Express prophetically declared, “Her quiet, compelling acting, worthy of an Academy Award, steals the show.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences shared that opinion and awarded her a Special Oscar for the Most Outstanding Child Actress of 1944. At the ceremony, which was held at Grauman’s Chinese Theater on March 15, 1945, Margaret was given her Oscar by director Mervyn LeRoy.

The emcee for the evening, comedian Bob Hope, lifted Margaret to the microphone so she could be heard by the listening radio audience.

“Will you hurry up and grow up, please?” Hope said as he struggled with the young winner.

As LeRoy handed her the Oscar, he said, “To the best young actress of the whole year of 1944. Congratulations.”

“Thank you,” she replied. I really don’t know what to say. Thank you very much.”

However, she did know what to say. Her mother had written her an acceptance speech, but at the last-minute Margaret decided to improvise her very own thank you to the Academy.

Margaret O’Brien and her mother Gladys at the footprints ceremony in the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese Theater

During her career, Margaret O’Brien was bestowed with many awards and accolades, including the honor of placing her hands and footprints in cement in the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese, but the Oscar would be her most prized and valued possession. Unfortunately, the little statuette would not stay around for long.

At the O’Brien home on Beverly Drive, Margaret had a separate room for her awards. One day in 1958, their maid took the Oscar and several other awards to her home to polish – a practice she did on several occasions. After three days, the maid failed to return so Mrs. O’Brien dismissed her and asked that she return the awards.

Not long after, Mrs. O’Brien, who was not in good health, suffered a relapse and died. Grief stricken, Margaret forgot about the maid and her Oscar until several months later when she tried to contact her, only to find that her phone was disconnected. The maid had moved and did not leave a forwarding address. Margaret considered the Oscar was gone forever. A few years later, the Academy graciously replaced the award with a substitute, but it was not the same.

Over the next thirty years, Margaret attended memorabilia shows searching for her lost Oscar. Then, in early 1995, a friend saw her Oscar in a an upcoming memorabilia auction catalogue. Margaret contacted the Academy’s legal department and they acted swiftly to have the Oscar returned.

Margaret O’Brien with her stolen Oscar that was returned to her by the Academy, and me in my younger days (no I’m not drunk it’s just one-of-those-pics) Michael Schwibs photo.

On February 7, 1995, nearly fifty years after receiving it, the Academy returned the stolen Oscar to O’Brien in a special ceremony at their Beverly Hills offices. Margaret told those attending:

“For all those people who have lost or misplaced something that was dear to them, as I have, never give up the dream of searching – never let go of the hope that you’ll find it because after all these many years, at last, my Oscar has been returned to me.”

 

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Today in Hollywoood

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Today in Hollywood–November 11, 2012

 

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The Roosevelt Hotel

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A practically deserted Hollywood Boulevard

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A crowd-less  Hollywood Walk of Fame

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The Hollywood Sign on a clear Sunday morning

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The famous intersection of Hollywood and Vine

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Much needed repairs on the Walk of Fame near Hollywood and Highland

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The above photos were taken at Hollywood, California on Sunday morning, November 11, 2012

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Rest in Peace, Sid Grauman…

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

BREAKING NEWS

Rest in Peace, Sid Grauman…

 

 

Chinese Theatre impresario Sid Grauman (left) with true Hollywood greats, Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg

 

Late last night emergency personnel were called to Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale where loud noises, banging and crying were heard emanating from the Sanctuary of Benediction corridor of the Great Mausoleum.  After a brief investigation, workmen discovered the sounds were coming from the crypt of Sid Grauman, the builder of Hollywood’s Egyptian and Chinese Theatres. Evidently the great showman was turning over in his grave after the cast of the X-Factor–Simon Cowell, Britney Spears, L.A. Reid and Demi Lovato, left their handprints in cement at the forecourt of the legendary Chinese Theater. This once honored Hollywood tradition, which in the past has been reserved for the greats of film history (need it be mentioned the film hits of Cowell, Spears, Reid & Lovato??), last night was finally put out of its misery. While choices in the recent past have been questionable, one can only wonder who is next–the Kardashians? Rest in peace, Sid Grauman.

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The Godfather 40th Anniversary at the Chinese Theatre

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

GRAUMAN’S CHINESE THEATRE

40th Anniversary Screening of “The Godfather” at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

 

 

Made for $6 Million, It’s Grossed $250 Million

 

“Here’s An Offer You Can’t Refuse:” 25 Cent Movie

 

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

Monday, September 10, 2012

8PM

 

Come early to visit refurbished forecourt tablets of Duvall, Pacino, and More!

 

ONE NIGHT ONLY:  PIZZA CART IN FORECOURT SERVING “CORLEONE PIZZA”!

 

TICKETS can be had at: www.chinesetheatres.com

 

 

Hollywood, Calif. – Sept. 10, 2012–In a 40th Anniversary salute to a Hollywood classic, The Godfather, Grauman’s Chinese will screen the film at 8PM on Monday, September 10 for 25 cents a ticket.

 

Come early to visit refurbished forecourt tablets of Duvall, Pacino, and More!

(Forecourt event: 7PM, 25 cent ticket “THE GODFATHER” screening at 8PM)

 

The 25 cent screening is part of Grauman’s ongoing 85th anniversary celebration, when tickets cost a quarter.  

 

“It was clear, even when the movie opened in 1972, that Coppola had created a landmark in American cinema. It remains the high point of his career,” wrote The San Francisco Chronicle.

 

“What we couldn’t see then was how wide the film’s influence would spread. There’s barely a gangster movie, a family epic or a movie about Italian Americans that doesn’t inevitably use “The Godfather” as a frame of reference. It’s more than a standard-bearer for critics and filmmakers — it’s a monument.”

 

 

About the Chinese Theatres

Since 1927, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre has been the home of the most important, star powered red carpet movie premieres and special events, where Hollywood’s biggest and brightest talents have come to watch their movies.  The most famous movie theatre on the globe is world-renowned for its unique forecourt of the stars, featuring cement hand and footprints of major movie stars, from Marilyn Monroe to Brad Pitt, and numerous stars from all eras of Hollywood.  In addition to being a major international tourist destination, The Chinese Theatre, and its six adjacent cinemas, the Chinese 6, are everyday working movie theatres, hosting millions of moviegoers year round.   

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Grauman’s Chinese to celebrate 85th birthday

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

GRAUMAN’S CHINESE

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre to offer 25-cent admission to celebrate their 85th birthday

 

 

 

HOLLYWOOD, (KABC) — Grauman’s Chinese Theatre is planning to offer 25-cent admission on select days in honor of the theater’s 85th birthday.

 

On Mondays, starting April 2, admission to the theater will only cost a quarter. That’s the same as it was on opening day in 1927.

 

On those Mondays, Grauman’s will show classic films which premiered there over the past eight decades. Locals and visitors alike should come and celebrate!

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Changes at Grauman’s Chinese?

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

GRAUMAN’S CHINESE THEATRE

Grauman’s Chinese: Movie star prints’ futures not set in cement

 

 

Commemorating their movie hit “Gentlemen Prefer Blonds” in the favored Hollywood way, Marilyn Monroe, left, and Jane Russell plant their hands in a slab of freshly-poured cement in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard. (Los Angeles Times)

 

 

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre’s new owners have increased cement print ceremonies, but some new squares may not be placed in the forecourt; old ones may be removed.

 

By Amy Kaufman
Los Angeles Times
December 29, 2011

 

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre is hallowed Hollywood tourist ground, the famed site where silver-screen stars such as Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra literally cemented their legends by making hand- and footprints in concrete. On a recent November morning, those movie icons were joined by three gigantic rodents: Alvin and the Chipmunks.

 

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Review of ‘Hollywood Story’

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

FILM REVIEWS

The true ‘Hollywood Story’ is solved 

 Hollywood Story poster

 

By Allan R. Ellenberger
 

Recently I had the pleasure to watch the rare film, Hollywood Story (1951), starring Richard Conte, Richard Egan, Henry HullFred Clark and in one of her early film appearances, Julie Adams (billed as Julia Adams).

 

The film was obviously inspired by the unsolved William Desmond Taylor murder that occurred barely 30 years earlier — a famous Hollywood director (named Franklin Ferrara in the film) is found shot and dead in his bungalow. The case goes unsolved and ruins several Hollywood careers including one of the directors leading ladies, an actor who is rumored to have murdered him and a screen writer who becomes a destitute beachcomber.  

 

Helen Gibson, William Farnum and Francis X. Bushman being greeted by the studio guard at the entrance of the former Chaplin Studios

 

Besides the cast mentioned earlier, there are cameos by former silent film favorites, Francis X. Bushman, William Farnum and Helen Gibson and an appearance by Joel McCrea who plays himself. But the real star of the film, in my opinion, are the scenes of old Hollywood. The film opens with a shot of Hollywood Boulevard looking west from Vine Street with the Broadway Department Store entrance and the Warner Theater clearly visible.

 

Other scenes include the NBC Studios (now demolished) on Sunset and Vine and shots of the Hollywood Christmas Parade as it passes Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The swimming pool of the Roosevelt Hotel makes an appearance as does portions of the famed Sunset Strip.

 

Richard Conte and Julie Adams near poolside at the Roosevelt Hotel in The Hollywood Story

 

The plot of the film revolves around Larry O’Brien (Richard Conte) a Broadway producer who arrives in Hollywood to try his hand at filmmaking. Based on facts presented to him, he decides to make a film about the Franklin Ferrara murder. His friend and now-agent (played by Jim Backus), finds him an old abandoned studio that just happens to be where Ferrara was found murdered. This begins the chain of events for his plans to make a movie about Ferrara — investigating the facts himself and getting in trouble in the process.

 

While the film is produced by Universal (the old entrance to the studio also has a cameo), they rented the Charlie Chaplin Studios on La Brea just south of Sunset as the stand-in for the studio where Ferrara was murdered and where O’Brien will now make his film. A long shot of the bungalow clearly shows the neon sign atop the Roosevelt Hotel (and is still visible today) in the background and the distinctive brick gate entrance to the studio can be seen from inside the lot. It is at this front gate that Conte greets silent film stars, Bushman, Farnum and Gibson. In another scene Conte runs outside the gate onto the sidewalk just as he sees Julie Adams and Paul Cavanaugh make an escape up La Brea and around the corner at Sunset.

 

I don’t believe Hollywood Story was ever released on video or DVD, but it should be. If you ever have the opportunity to see this film and old Hollywood is one of your interests, I highly recommend it.

 

 

 The studio guard, Richard Conte and Jim Backus walking onto the Chaplin lot. Notice the ornate tower in the background which is the entrance to the studio. That same tower is below.

 

 

 

 The studio guard greeting Francis X. Bushman at the entrance of the former Chaplin Studios in The Hollywood Story. Below is the same spot as it looks today.

 

 

 

 Richard Conte stands on the sidewalk outside the entrance to the former Chaplin Studios looking north toward Sunset. Below is the same spot as it looks today.

 

 

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Grauman’s Chinese Theater to be sold

Friday, April 29th, 2011

HOLLYWOOD REAL ESTATE

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre to be sold to movie producers

 

 

(PHOTO: Allan R. Ellenberger)

 

 One of Hollywood’s most iconic landmarks, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, is once again changing hands

 

A partnership between Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures parent Viacom Inc. has signed an agreement to sell the historic theater on Hollywood Boulevard for an undisclosed sum to a pair of movie producers: Don Kushner, executive producer of “Tron: Legacy,” and the flamboyant and controversial entrepreneur Elie Samaha, two people familiar with the deal said Thursday.

 

The sale, which is scheduled to close May 20, also includes the operating lease of the Mann’s Chinese 6 multiplex, located in the adjacent Hollywood and Highland retail mall.  

 

The single-screen Grauman’s — known for its giant, red Chinese pagoda, signature Chinese dragon guard dogs at the entrance and cement block footprints and hand prints of famous Hollywood figures — was declared a historic and cultural landmark in 1968.

 

Neither Samaha nor Kushner were immediately available to discuss their plans for the theater, but one person familiar with the matter said the theater will continue to screen movies and host premieres and that the new owners plan to upgrade food and beverage services.

 

The sale involves the Grauman’s building only and not the land the theater sits on, which in 2007 was sold to the CIM Group, which owns the Hollywood and Highland complex and other commercial properties in Hollywood.

 

Representatives of Warner, Viacom and Mann declined to comment on the pending sale.

 

Samaha, who has owned dry cleaners and nightclubs in Los Angeles, made waves more than a decade  ago when he ventured into the movie business, producing such films as Bruce Willis’ hit “The Whole Nine Yards” and John Travolta’s box-office flop “Battlefield Earth.”

 

But his business practices led to a high-profile legal battle with the German company Intertainment AG, which alleged in a fraud and racketeering lawsuit in 2000 that Franchise Pictures, the independent film company headed by Samaha, had made up inflated budgets for such movies as “Battlefield Earth.”  Samaha had denied any wrongdoing. Intertainment was awarded $122 million in damages, but was unable to collect the money and ultimately settled the complex legal brawl for $3 million.

 

Warner and Viacom have been trying to sell the historic theater for more than a year but had struggled to find a buyer.

 

Warner and Viacom acquired Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in 2001 along with six other theaters owned by Encino-based Mann Theatres after the circuit declared bankruptcy in the face of rising competition from large theater chains.

 

Mann continues to operate theaters in Hollywood, Glendale, Van Nuys and Thousand Oaks.

  

Ted Mann, owner of the Mann chain, had purchased Grauman’s Chinese in 1973; it then operated under the Mann name for nearly three decades.

 

Sid Grauman and partners that included silent screen stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks financed construction of the theater, which opened in 1927 with the premiere of Cecil B. DeMille’s film “The King of Kings.”  Over the decades it has hosted several Academy Awards ceremonies and was used for scores of high-profile premieres, including George Lucas’ “Star Wars” in 1977.

 

SOURCE: Los Angeles Times

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Missing footprints at Grauman’s Chinese

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

GRAUMAN’S CHINESE

Tracing lost steps of Grauman’s first footprints

 

 

Iconic Hollywood tradition began by accident, and original concrete slabs are now in airport hangar

  

By Tara Wallis-Finestone and Chuck Henry

 

It’s an iconic event known throughout the world. For the past 85 years, only the biggest stars in Hollywood have been immortalized with their hands and feet in cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

 

But NBCLA has discovered a critical piece of Hollywood history is missing from the theater’s famous forecourt.

 

The original footprints that started it all have been hidden for decades. In fact, not even the company that owns Grauman’s Theatre knew about these potentially priceless footprints.

 

“I was not aware that the ones we have in the forecourt are not the originals,” said Peter Dobson, CEO of Mann Theatres, the company that owns Grauman’s Chinese. “If they are missing and we just got the practice slabs in there, I’m devastated to know that.”

 

“I have no interest in giving them back to Grauman’s,” said Nick Olaerts, a former Hollywood developer who claims to own the slabs. “Decades ago, I had wanted to give them back to Grauman’s, a donation in the name of my children, but the theater’s owner at the time, Ted Mann, wasn’t interested in taking them back.”

 

Instead, Olaerts gave the slabs to his friend Larry Buchanan, an airplane mechanic who put them in storage at his airport hangar east of Los Angeles. Over the years, Buchanan and Olaerts have tried numerous times to sell the slabs, Buchanan even at one point put them on eBay.

 

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Robert Duvall at Grauman’s Chinese

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

GRAUMAN’S CHINESE

Robert Duvall leaves his hand and footprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre forecourt

 

 

 

 

Robert Duvall celebrated his 80th birthday, and his 50 years in the movie business by becoming one of the names–and hands and feet–immortalized in the courtyard of the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Duvall left his marks in the wet concrete block in front of a crowd of spectators.

 

Duvall, born in San Diego, is an army vet who once roomed with actor Dustin Hoffman while the two studied under legendary acting guru Sanford Meisner. His films include the original “True Grit,” “The Godfather,” “The French Connection,” “Apocalypse Now,” “A Civil Action,” and “The Apostle.”

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