Today we celebrate a Chinese icon of the Golden Age of Hollywood. No, I’m not talking about Anna Mae Wong; I’m talking about Hollywood’s famous Chinese Theatre! The legendary movie theater opened on Hollywood Boulevard on this day in 1927.
The Chinese Theatre is famous for its concrete forecourt in which many famous filmmakers have placed their hand and foot prints. Fewer than 200 stars have had the honor of placing their hands and feet in cement, an honor that shows that one has truly made it in Hollywood. Amazingly, this tradition began by accident.
On the afternoon of May 18, 1927 Chinese Theatre owner Sid Grauman was giving a few movie stars (Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford and sisters Constance and Norma Talmadge) a tour of the movie palace before it opened. As the quintet walked through the forecourt, Constance Talmadge walked through a slab of wet cement leaving a trail of footprints in here wake. Ever the showman, Grauman instantly recognized that having the star’s prints in front of the Chinese would be great for business. So, first, he asked Talmadge to place her hands inside the cement and sign her name. Then he asked if Fairbanks, Pickford and Norma Talmadge would do the same.
Many stars have followed suit, with some adding their own personal touches: Johnny Depp dated his prints in Roman numerals, Groucho Marx added his cigar to the cement, movie cowboy Roy Rodgers’ concrete slab included a print of his gun and the hoof prints of his horse Trigger, the trio of Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint placed their wands in the concrete and Donald Duck once left his webbed footprints.
To honor Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, let’s make a drink inspired by another American take on Chinese culture: The Fortune Cookie. Yes, in case you were unaware, the fortune cookie was actually created somewhere in California, in either San Francisco’s Chinatown or Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo. Anyway, there’s a new spirit on the market in the U. S. called byejoe, which is a modern take on the traditional Chinese red sorghum spirit baiju. This sweet Fortune Cookie cocktail was created by byejoe but does not come with a thin paper fortune.
- 1 ounce byejoe
- 1 ounce Amaretto
- 1 ounce Bailey’s Irish Cream
Tomorrow: Another legendary bartender; but this one’s still alive!