A "Robin Hood" ad from the November 17, 1922 issue
of Holly Leaves. It's reproduced in Cezar Del Valle's
Grauman's Egyptian post on his Theatre Talks blog.
full size view
"An Eyeful of Usherets [sic] Parked in an Oldsmobile. These lovely
ones appear in person at Sid Grauman's new Hollywood Egyptian
Theatre, where Douglas Fairbanks's 'Robin Hood' is being produced.
If you can't find the way to your seat they'll help you."
The illustration is from Mary Mallory's Daily Mirror
article "Hollywood Heights - The Egyptian Theatre, "
which includes a larger view.
Both inside and out, the site highlighted Egyptania. The walls of the auditorium featured hieroglyphics, with the ceiling painted to resemble the night sky. The constellations would change as the lighting effects altered and shifted. The forecourt featured oriental shops down its promenade, with an Egyptian village replicating one by the Pyramids, attracting attention. Rug makers and other artisans intrigued filmgoers."
The cover of the opening night program. It's on
"Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre," a post on Christopher
Crouch's Cinelog. Normally focusing on Orange County
theatres, Mr. Crouch takes an occasional foray into Hollywood.
full size view
Also on Cinelog:
| page 3 - "Greeting" | page 4 - "New Policies" |
| page 9 - "Staff and Prices" | page 12 - "Masters in Charge of Music" |
| page13 - "Robin Hood" credits | full program (PDF): Egyptian Album |
A "Robin Hood" ad that ran in the the newspaper
Holly Leaves on November 3, 1922.
full size view
The ad is featured in a post on the Theatre Talks blog
about the October 18, 1922 Opening of the Egyptian Theatre.
The post also features a photo of the rear of the auditorium.
The October 20, 1922 report of the newspaper Holly Leaves about the opening of the theatre is excerpted by Cezar Del Valle in his Theatre Talks blog post:
"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. Every one 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."
Daily Mirror article, refers to the 1990 Bernadette M. Sigler and Kevin Stayton book, “The Sphinx and the Lotus: the Egyptian Movement in American Decorative Arts, 1865-1935” which heralds Grauman's as the first full architectural expression of the Egyptian decorative scheme in this country. The book notes that the theatre, inside and out was “Supposedly based on temple ruins at Thebes, the exterior boasted crouching sphinxes and Egyptian head pilasters.” The proscenium was crowned with the “winged scarab Khepri.”Mary Mallory, in her
Many Egyptian themed theatres would follow including, in the Los Angeles area, ones in Long Beach and Pasadena.
Cezar Del Valle notes in another Theatre Talks blog post that a month before the opening, the Egyptian was already inspiring religious fervor. He excerpts an article from the September 9, 1922 issue of the newspaper Holly Leaves reporting on a talk at the Krotona Institute on "Temples and religions of Egypt during the reign of Queen Hatsheput" by Captain Stuart Corbett, a "noted Egyptologist":
"Grauman’s Hollywood Theatre may not last a century but its art was old when the pyramids were built. The careful attention given to detail may be traced in the hieroglyphics on the walls. The reproduction of the cartouche from the royal scarab, bearing the inscription, ‘O Let me not my Heart bear Witness against me,’ is wonderfully exact in detail.
Another notable bit of detail is the lighting system. Scientists and historians agree that the Egyptian temples were illuminated by a light said to have been handed down to the high priests of Egypt by the priests of Lost Atlantis. This effect is beautifully brought out by the hidden illumination in the Grauman Hollywood Theater, enhancing the beauty of the architecture and giving it an artistic and almost religious atmosphere.
In conclusion the speaker complimented Mr. Grauman on the realization of his ideals in giving to Southern California the most beautiful and artistic cinema temple in the world.”
A 1924 photo of Pacific Electric Red Cars taking 180 boys
from the Pasadena YMCA to the opening of John Ford's "The Iron
Horse" at the Egyptian. It's from the Mt. Lowe Preservation
Society collection on the Pacific Electric Railway website.
full size view
Note there that Sid Grauman's "1918 Review" was
advertised as having "100 - people on the stage - 100."
[ click on either of these for larger views ]
A 1925 ad, courtesy of Ken McIntyre.
A great 1926 view of the dignitaries in front of the
railroad car carrying the Vitaphone equipment west
for "Don Juan" at Grauman's Egyptian.
full size view
The photo above is from the site George Groves -- the story
of Oscar winning sound pioneer George R. Groves (1901-1976).
The photo was once on the site's "Don Juan" page.
Another photo in front of the car that brought the gear west.
The photo is from the Vintage Photographs and Postcards Flickr
album of Tom Wilson, a collector of old projection equipment.
Left to right are Jack L. Warner, Sid Grauman, Col. Nathan
Levinson and Ray Schrock. Kneeling (and guarding the cargo
with shotguns) are Bill Guthrie and a Captain Carillo.
Trucks from the Warner studios loaded with the sound
equipment for the Egyptian. Note the Western Electric
horns on top of the load of the truck on the right. The
photo is from the Vintage Photographs and Postcards
Flickr album of Tom Wilson.
The Warner studios on Sunset advertising "Don Juan"
at the Egyptian. It's a photo from the Cezar Del Valle
Theatre Talks collection on Flickr.
full size view
We don't know specifically what gear was in the booth for the
"Don Juan" engagement -- whether in addition to the Vitaphone
turntables Sid also got sound-on-film attachments so he could
run Movietone optical sound format shorts or not.
Here, from Wikipedia's article on Vitaphone is a 1926
demonstration by Western Electric Engineer E.B. Craft
(left) using a turntable geared to a Simplex projector --
but without a sound on film attachment. The photo
is from the University of San Diego
The program for "Don Juan."
It's one of many interesting items once on
the Cinema Treasures page on the Egyptian.
full size view | program inside
--Cashier Totty Ames, talking about coming to work
at the Egyptian in 1943. Totty appears in "Hollywood
Remembered: An Oral History of its Golden Age"
by Paul Zollo, Cooper Square Press, 2002. [p. 193]
The Egyptian, Sid Grauman's first Hollywood theatre,
was a major first run house for over four decades.
It's now operated by the American Cinematheque.
photo: Bill Counter - 2007
In the photo we see the replica of a vintage vertical sign for
the theatre that was installed during the American Cinematheque renovations. There wasn't one when the theatre opened in 1922.
[ click any of these images to enlarge ]
A look at the Egyptian's auditorium from the top row.
photo: Wendell Benedetti
on the LAHTF Facebook page - 2012
See the auditorium and lobby pages for many more interior views.
The stagehouse of the Egyptian in a 2007 view.
photo: Bill Counter
Tickets for the show at the Egyptian. The illustration
is from page 7 of the TODD-AO section on
American Widescreen Museum.
Full size frames from a 65mm print of "Oklahoma"
on page 4 of the TODD-AO section on the American
Widescreen Museum website. Also see the "Oklahoma"
page. Later prints were on 70mm stock with 6
channel sound on magnetic stripes.
Here's a Los Angeles Public Library photo
of ladies up admiring the neon on the Egyptian
marquee for the 1955 roadshow presentation
of "Oklahoma" in TODD-AO.
full size view
The TODD-AO process was born out of Mike Todd's frustrations with the expense and inherent problems with Cinerama. Wide film was nothing new. There was a flurry of activity in the late 20s and early 30s and it might have become the new standard except the depression doomed further experiments. The Warner Hollywood ran several films in the 65mm Vitascope process and both the Chinese and the Carthay Circle had projectors to run the 70mm Fox Grandeur process.
The illustration is from page 4 of the TODD-AO
section of American Widescreen Museum's
section on TODD-AO.
The process was originally to be called "Magna," which was the name of the company set up to develop the system and produce the films. It ended up as TODD-AO because Todd, ever the showman, wanted his name on it. American Optical, who developed the optics, wanted recognition also.
A look at one of the early TODD-AO projectors from
"The Story of the DP70 projector" on the wonderful
website In70mm.com. Note the two motors --- one
for 24 fps, one for 30 fps. Later models just had one
motor and a clutch. full size view
Large screens, big arc lamps and short projection throws resulted in lots of focus drift from the beginning of a reel to its end. Some of the projectors were equipped were equipped with motor driven "focus drift compensators" that reset at the end of each reel. Note also that the top motor in the photo above has a pulley so it could be synched via Selsyn motors to a separate sound reproducer.
More 70mm at the Egyptian: Other 70mm reserved seat runs included:
"Ben Hur" - MGM, MGM Camera 65
-opened November, 1959 and ran 98 weeks
"King of Kings" - MGM, Super Technirama 70
- premiere October 12, 1961
"Mutiny on the Bounty" - MGM, Ultra Panavision 70
- premiere November 15, 1962
"The Cardinal" - Columbia, blowup from 35mm scope
- opened December 20, 1963
"South Pacific" - Magna Pictures reissue, TODD-AO
- opened April 1, 1964 - not a roadshow engagement
"My Fair Lady" - Warner Bros., Super Panavision 70
- opened October 28, 1964 - ran 68 weeks
"Hawaii" - United Artists - blowup from 35mm Panavision
- opened October 13, 1966 for a 52 week run
"Around The World in 80 Days" - Magna Pictures / United Artists reissue,
TODD-AO - opened March 15, 1968 - not a roadshow engagement
"Funny Girl" - Columbia, blow up from 35mm scope - opened October 9, 1968
-- after the D-150 remodel - a 61 week run
Dimension 150 at the Egyptian: A 1968 remodeling increased the screen size to 75 feet (some accounts say 90') for a D-150 system installation. The 1955 TODD-AO installation had left much (but not all) of the sides of the proscenium and the stage in place.
In the new round of renovations the remains of the proscenium as well as the stage were removed and the orchestra pit was covered. The new screen went almost to the theatre's back wall. A new projection booth was installed on the main floor. The remodel was accomplished in six weeks.
The D-150 screen being installed. It's from the
Egyptian Theatre page of the website From Script
to DVD. The photo appeared in a January 13, 1969
Motion Picture Herald article.
slightly larger view | screen fully installed
Dimension 150 was a process developed by Dr. Richard Vetter and United Artists Theatre Circuit. It involved extreme wide angle camera lenses, a screen and masking system and projection lenses designed to give a sharp image on a deeply curved screen.
It was installed in many UA roadshow houses (such as Cinema 150 in Seattle) as well as venues operated by other circuits. The Rosemary Theatre in Ocean Park was used as a test house for the process.
"The Bible" (1966) and "Patton" (1970) were the only features actually filmed in the Dimension 150 process. See the American Widescreen Museum's extensive coverage of the process and a few more resources on our Movie Links page. Also see the Dimension 150 section on Roland Lataille's comprehensive In Cinerama website.
Adding Egyptian 2 and 3: In 1972 United Artists Theatre Circuit added 2 smaller theatres, the Egyptian 2 & 3, in a store building to the east of the theatre. The original theatre remained a single auditorium. That building is now a little black box theatre and is not part of the American Cinematheque campus.
Hollywood 90038 took this great photo of the 1994
earthquake damage to the Egyptian Theatre along with
a view of the repaired stagehouse and side wall.
full size view
We get a brief look at the Egyptian's boxoffice as
Richard Gere cruises down Hollywood Blvd.
in "American Gigolo" (Paramount, 1980).
We've tried to give appropriate credit.
In Barry Levinson's "Jimmy Hollywood"
(Paramount, 1994) with Joe Pesci and Christian
Slater we end up at the abandoned Egyptian Theatre.
A look at one of the "singing boxes" on the Egyptian
sidewall in "Jimmy Hollywood" as Joe Pesci
contemplates his next move.
Joe Pesci taking a look at the strange entrance
doors to the auditorium in "Jimmy Hollywood."
A look up the aisle toward the lobby
doors in "Jimmy Hollywood."
Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan buy a ticket for a show
at the Egyptian in Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris's
"Ruby Sparks" (Fox Searchlight, 2012). Personal problems
intervene and we don't get to come back for a show.
The film also visits the Billy Wilder Theatre.
The links near the images will direct you to a full size version
on the website hosting it. Please contact us if there are incorrect
attributions or links that no longer work. All images are subject
to copyright. Contact the webmaster of the site in question
concerning reproduction or other use.
more egyptian theatre pages:
| street view timeline | forecourt | lobby areas |
| auditorium | booth |