Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Opening of the Egyptian Theatre, Los Angeles

Part Two: The 90th Anniversary of Grauman's Egyptian Theatre

The first Hollywood movie premiere as reported in Holly Leaves, October 20, 1922 (excerpts):

"A new era in the world's motion picture theaters and in the cinema art dawned Wednesday evening, when the new temple of art, Grauman's Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, was dedicated with the world premiere of 'Robin Hood,' the masterpiece of Douglas Fairbanks.

"Everyone of the 1742 seats were filled, and an even if the seating capacity were ten times greater, the house doubtless would have been filled, so great was the demand for tickets." 

"There was a regular metropolitan 'opening night' with a jam of people and motor cars outside and extending in all directions, while the great court had rows of people on either side of the aisle kept open by khaki-clad soldiers. Hollywood Post American Legion Band was in the court and gave a band concert before the program. The picture stars were wildly greeted and numerous flashlights taken of the kaleidoscopic human spectacle.

"Otto Olesen's great government searchlights played upon the heavens and added much to the spectacular effects.

"Before the picture, Arthur Wenzel, publicity director for the Grauman theaters announced that Fred Niblo would officiate as master of ceremonies. Mr. Niblo was a witty and facetious mood as he presented Mayor George Cryer of Los Angeles; George J. Eastman, president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce; Jesse Lasky, vice president of Famous Players-Lasky Company; Rupert Hughes, author and director, and Charlie Chaplin as surprise speakers. All were applauded to the echo with a double measure for 'Charlie.'

"Then Cecil de Mille was presented and after a brief happy speech, he called for Sid Grauman, builder of the Egyptian playhouse. Mr. Grauman  was greeted by a storm of applause and was tendered the rising salute. He made a few appropriate remarks and expressed feelingly his appreciation for all that had been said.

"All speakers heaped encomiums on Douglas Fairbanks for his marvelous production.

"The prologue was beautifully presented and delighted the house.

"The music proved a wonderful setting and the composer-conductor Victor Shertzanger [Victor Schertzinger] was given an ovation.

"Handsome souvenir programs in brochure forms were given to every first night person." 

Above postcard from the Theatre Talks collection.

Cezar Del Valle is the author of the Brooklyn Theatre Index, chosen 2010 Best Book of the Year by the Theatre Historical Society.

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