Hollywood’s Celluloid Heroes

Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, CAEven with a quick trip to Hollywood, California, you have to stop to see Hollywood Blvd., right? Well, that’s just what I did. From my hotel I could see the Hollywood sign, although that is as close as I got to it. I still got a sense of its glory and symbolism rising from the hills. When I arrived, I was whisked off to a great little cafe called Weho Bistro for the first of many work-related “eatings” (meetings where you eat). I had the eggs and hash and I was so surprised to see that the sides were sliced tomato and pickled veggies, not your standard hash browns or home-fried potatoes. Just then, I knew I was in Hollywood: a substantially health-conscious place very different from my own food truck mecca.

After a few days of working, work-related dinners, and work-involved evening activities, I struck out on my own. It was exciting to learn that Hollywood Boulevard was literally a few steps from the hotel’s entrance. The Chinese Theatre! WOW! Need I say more? It’s the only place on Earth where famous hands and feet are pressed into wet concrete and sidewalks are filled with stars meant to immortalize the names of our pop culture icons forever. My hands and feet were identical to Marilyn Monroe’s; as I pressed my hands where hers were, I was reminded of the song “Celluloid Heroes” by the Kinks.

Lyrics to the Kinks song “Hollywood Celluloid”:

P1080599Everybody’s a dreamer and everybody’s a star,
And everybody’s in movies, it doesn’t matter who you are.
There are stars in every city,
In every house and on every street,
And if you walk down Hollywood Boulevard
Their names are written in concrete!

Don’t step on Greta Garbo as you walk down the Boulevard,
She looks so weak and fragile that’s why she tried to be so hard
But they turned her into a princess
And they sat her on a throne,
But she turned her back on stardom,
Because she wanted to be alone.

You can see all the stars as you walk down Hollywood Boulevard,
Some that you recognise, some that you’ve hardly even heard of,
People who worked and suffered and struggled for fame,
Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain.

MM-starRudolph Valentino, looks very much alive,
And he looks up ladies’ dresses as they sadly pass him by.
Avoid stepping on Bela Lugosi
‘Cos he’s liable to turn and bite,
But stand close by Bette Davis
Because hers was such a lonely life.
If you covered him with garbage,
George Sanders would still have style,
And if you stamped on Mickey Rooney
He would still turn round and smile,
But please don’t tread on dearest Marilyn
‘Cos she’s not very tough,
She should have been made of iron or steel,
But she was only made of flesh and blood.

You can see all the stars as you walk down Hollywood Boulevard,
Some that you recognise, some that you’ve hardly even heard of.
People who worked and suffered and struggled for fame,
Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain.

DSC_0131

Everybody’s a dreamer and everybody’s a star
And everybody’s in show biz, it doesn’t matter who you are.

And those who are successful,
Be always on your guard,
Success walks hand in hand with failure
Along Hollywood Boulevard.

I wish my life was a non-stop Hollywood movie show,
A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes,
Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain
And celluloid heroes never really die.

You can see all the stars as you walk along Hollywood Boulevard,
Some that you recognise, some that you’ve hardly even heard of,
People who worked and suffered and struggled for fame,
Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain.

Oh celluloid heroes never feel any pain
Oh celluloid heroes never really die.

I wish my life was a non-stop Hollywood movie show,
A fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes,
Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain
And celluloid heroes never really die.

The history behind the Chinese Theatre is one I really enjoyed reading.

P1080604TCL Chinese Theatre is a cinema on the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame. Built by a partnership headed by Sid Grauman over 18 months starting in January 1926, the theatre opened May 18, 1927, with the premiere of Cecil B. DeMille’s film The King of Kings.
It has since been home to many premieres, including the 1977 launch of George Lucas’s Star Wars, as well as birthday parties, corporate junkets, and three Academy Awards ceremonies. Among the theatre’s most distinctive features are the concrete blocks set in the forecourt, which bear the signatures, footprints, and handprints of popular motion picture personalities from the 1920s to the present day.
The theatre has partnered with IMAX Corporation to create the single largest IMAX auditorium in the world. The new theatre seats 932 people, and hosts the third largest commercial movie screen in North America.

The story of the pressed prints of the famous is still uncertain, but the theatre’s official account in its books and souvenir programs credit Norma Talmadge as having inspired the tradition when she accidentally stepped into the wet concrete. However, in a short interview during the September 13, 1937, Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of a radio adaptation of A Star Is Born, Grauman related another version of how he got the idea to put hand and foot prints in the concrete. He said it was “…pure accident. I walked right into it. While we were building the theatre, I accidentally happened to step in some soft concrete. And there it was. So, I went to Mary Pickford immediately. Mary put her foot into it.” Still another account by the construction foreman, Jean Klossner, recounts that Klossner autographed his work next to the right-hand poster kiosk and that he and Grauman developed the idea then and there. His autograph and handprint, dated 1927, remain today. The theatre’s third founding partner, Douglas Fairbanks, was the second celebrity, after Talmadge, to be immortalized in the concrete.

Loews Hotel and Hollywood Highland Center in Hollywood Blvd.

The hotel, Loews Hollywood, was very nice and in the best possible location for touristy type exploration. They were under renovations and the furniture in my room didn’t match the new decor, but I could see it wasn’t that way throughout the entire building. The staff kept the public from exploring the unfinished areas like a famous star would hide their face after plastic surgery.

Cho Oishi, a sushi restaurant located in the adjacent mall known as The Hollywood Highland, was famously received by all of my co-workers. We enjoyed the sushi options and the cooked dinners as well. The restaurant combines California fusion with Japanese traditional cuisine.  They have a 30-foot sushi bar, hibachi grills, and Shabu Shabu. Over the course of the three days I was there on business, I ate at several of the restaurants in the Highland. Our group selected The Hard Rock Cafe for a great American lunch; Green Earth Cafe for coffee, smoothies, and internet while waiting for friends; and two nights of fine dining at The Grill on Hollywood. Their filet mignon can’t be beat! They had nice, private booths and a great wine list to boot.

Aside from the eating, working, and touring sites nearby, a friend brought me to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel where all the upper crust party and relax. We sat poolside and watched the sun dip behind the hills. So relaxing.

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