If you’ve ever been to the TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Mann’s, originally Grauman’s), you’ve probably walked over the handprints and footprints of Hollywood stars imprinted in the concrete. They’re a big tourist draw — you can see the stars’ signatures and compare your hands with the hands of the people on the big screen.
But the very first one was an accident.
The tradition was born after actress Norma Talmadge accompanied Sid Grauman — the theater magnate who was opening what is now a famous landmark — and other Hollywood stars to the site of the theater in 1927. At the construction site, Talmadge accidentally stepped in wet cement.
"When Grauman saw this, it gave him the idea of creating his own special hall of fame," a Feb. 3, 1958, Times story on a $400,000 renovation of the theater recounted.
Previously on L.A. Times Past:
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Leonardo DiCaprio though the years
A teen heartthrob who became one of the most accomplished actors of his generation, DiCaprio’s life has been thoroughly documented on film and in photos - above is just a sampling of Times photographers’ experiences with the star.
Photos: Kirk McCoy, Wally Skalij, Genaro Molina, Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times
"American Hustle," "12 Years a Slave" top the Golden Globes
With the Globes being the Globes, there were plenty of bizarre moments (Jacqueline Bisset, we’re looking your way) to accompany the plentiful booze.
And of course, photobombs:
Photos: Wally Skalij, Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times, E!
2014’s stars in the making
With the new year just beginning, we thought you may want to get an early jump on some of the filmmakers, performers and creators who could be grabbing headlines later this year.
Gia Coppola’s continuation of her family’s Hollywood legacy, Zara McFarlane’s reaffirmation of jazz’s vitality and the husband-and-wife team pushing the boundaries of what counts as a video game are just a glimpse of who may make it big this year.
And yes, while “Welcome to Night Vale,” is no stranger to Tumblr, we wouldn’t be surprised if the podcast’s creative team sees even greater success in months to come.
So want to see who else made the list, or think we may have left someone off? Head over to our full listing right here.
Photos: Brownswood Recordings, Rick Madonik / Toronto Star via Getty Images, Anton Nickel, Media Greenhouse
Mourning two titans of the classic silver screen
Both were renowned for their talent: Fontaine was honored with an Academy Award for best actress for her brilliant role in 1941’s “Suspicion,” and was nominated the previous year of “Rebecca,” and O’Toole was nominated for a stunning eight Academy Awards without a single victory.
"Always the bridesmaid, never a bride," he quipped upon receiving an honorary Oscar in 2003.
Read more on their lasting legacies over at Movies Now.
Photos: Associated Press, Martha Hartnett / Los Angeles Times, RKO Radio
'12 Years a Slave,' 'American Hustle' lead Golden Globe nominees
With seven nominations each, ‘12 Years a Slave’ and ‘American Hustle’ have jumped to the forefront of the Academy Awards conversation, and will likely be the ongoing favorites as Hollywood’s awards season kicks into gear.
But the Globes’ honors just aren’t limited to those two films - plenty of others, along with television shows like “Breaking Bad” and “House of Cards” earned nominees. Check out the full list here.
Photos: Sony-Columbia Pictures, Fox Searchlight, IFC, Kevin Winter / Getty Images, Disney
Cougar takes the Hollywood limelight
Hats off to National Geographic photographer Steve Winter, for this fantastic photo of a cougar perfectly placed in front of the Hollywood sign.
NatGeo has the full story, including 14 months of waiting for a perfect shot, here.
Photo: Steve Winter / National Geographic
Under construction: A drive through Hollywoodland, 1930’s.
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Halloween in West Hollywood
Here’s to hoping your Halloween, whether you haunted the neighborhood looking for candy or stayed at home curling up with a horrifying film, was a good one! It certainly was for the tens of thousands who swarmed Santa Monica Boulevard for last night’s Halloween Carnival.
Photos: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
Wallace Neff was considered a “starchitect” in the 1930s, designing homes for the Hollywood elite. But he viewed his “Bubble House” his greatest architectural achievement. At the end of World War Two, the United States was facing a housing shortage. He designed these 1000 square foot “Bubble Houses” to be built entirely in 48 hours using an airform and gunite pressurized cement application process. (See more about how they were made here)
Bubble Houses were ultimately unsuccessful in the United States, because the circular and domed shape made it difficult to find furniture to fit, and wall space wasn’t easy to utilize. However, these low-cost housing units proved quite popular in other countries, especially in Senegal, where a 1,200 unit colony was built and many still stand today.
Top photo: Wallace Neff in front of a bubble house at a construction site.
Bottom photo: A “Double Bubble House”
(This post was inspired by the most recent podcast from 99% Invisible. Many more photos, and a great podcast can be found at their website here)
Today’s challenge: Use “starchitect” in regular conversation.
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MARTIANS DESTROY CITY HALL! Well, a model of it, at least. The replica was built (and destroyed) for the 1952 production of “War of the Worlds.” Scott Harrison at Framework, the L.A. Times photo blog, has the story.
Photo: May 8, 1952: Los Angeles Times staff photographer, using a high-speed 35-millimeter camera, was present during special effects filming for the movie “War of the Worlds.” Credit: Phil Bath / Los Angeles Times / UCLA Archive
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Gravity Talking Points. In summary: Don’t forget to breathe.
And probably go see it, if you trust resident film critic Kenneth Turan, who said of the new film (without GIFs, sadly):
"Gravity" is out of this world. Words can do little to convey the visual astonishment this space opera creates. It is a film whose impact must be experienced in 3-D on a theatrical screen to be fully understood.
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Welcome to SlapCon
Athletes train their bodies, artists practice their craft and the performers who attend SlapCon hone their abilities to fake being walloped in the face:
The brainchild of Hollywood entertainer and pancake juggler Scot Nery, SlapCon is in its second year and has more than doubled in size since its inception. Held this year in Echo Park, the convention draws together actors, comedians, circus performers and slapstick enthusiasts of all backgrounds and levels of experience for a marathon of loving hurt.
Photos: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times
The rise and fall of the Grauman dragons: For 43 years, a pair of neon dragons flanked the forecourt of one of the most famous theaters in Los Angeles: Grauman’s Chinese on Hollywood Boulevard. They were taken down in 2001, and, The Times’ Nita Lelyveld writes, one of them was promised to the Museum of Neon Art. But the museum didn’t get the dragon that year, and for a while it appeared lost. It’s now been found – but in need of about $35,000 for restoration.
Grauman’s Chinese, also formerly known as Mann’s Chinese and now TCL Chinese, first opened in 1927, sans dragons (first photo above). The dragons were added in 1958 “to give an old movie palace new pizazz,” Lelyveld writes. You can see the dragons in all their glory in the second photo above, taken in 1981. And finally, in the third photo is MONA director Kim Koga with the recovered dragon, which a former museum board member found in a prop yard on the 5 Freeway.
"We consider the dragon sign an icon of Los Angeles," Eric Lynxwiler told Lelyveld. "And yet we basically had to snatch it out of the hands of a Dumpster."
(Photo credits: Top: LA Times File Photo, Los Angeles Times /November 17, 1997; middle: LA Times File Photo, Los Angeles Times /June 4, 2002; bottom: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times /August 27, 2013)
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