Even before the Grauman’s Chinese, Hollywood had the Egyptian Theater (6712 Hollywood Blvd., 323/466-3456, www.americancinematheque.com, tickets $10). Built by the auspices of the legendary Sid Grauman, the Egyptian was the first of the grandiose movie houses build in Hollywood proper and a follower of those in downtown Los Angeles.
King Tut’s tomb had been discovered in 1922, and the glorified Egyptian stylings of the theater followed the trend for all things Egyptian that followed that discovery. The massive courtyard and the stage both boasted columns, sphinxes, and other Egyptian-esque decor. The first movie to premiere at the Egyptian was Robin Hood, soon followed by The Ten Commandments.
In the 1920s, the showing of a film was preceded by an elaborate live “prologue” featuring real actors in costume on a stage before the screen (the early ancestry of the Rocky Horror Picture Show). The Egyptian’s stage was second to none, and the prologue of The Ten Commandments was billed as the most elaborate to date.
After a haul through the 1950s as a reserved-seat, long-run movie house, the Egyptian fell into disrepair and eventually closed. A massive renovation completed in 1998 restored it to its former glory.
Today, you can get tickets to an array of old-time films. Or take a morning tour to get a glimpse at the history of this magnificent old theater. Expect to pay $5–20 for parking in one of the nearby lots.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition