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Hollywood Maven


Before his famous Chinese Theater, Sid Grauman built LA's first luxury movie house, the Million Dollar Theatre.

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A perfectionist and an insomniac, Grauman was known for making 2 a.m. phone calls to his leading performers. His artistic skills with dramatic lighting and set design were matched with a mastery of marketing and modern business methods.

His cinemas in northern California and New York City prepared Grauman for his biggest house yet in Los Angeles. Every seat in the Million Dollar Theatre had a switch that activated when someone sat down, lighting up a house diagram so usherettes could find any empty seats and Grauman could pack the house every night.

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Organ pipes boomed behind this elaborate carved wood screen at the opening night premiere, delighting an audience of Hollywood legends including Cecil B. DeMille, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and Charlie Chaplin.

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