Sid Grauman bigraphy, stories - Founders

Sid Grauman : biography

March 17, 1879 - March 5, 1950

Sidney Patrick Grauman (March 17, 1879 – March 5, 1950) was an American showman who created one of Southern California's most recognizable and visited landmarks, Grauman's Chinese Theater. He was the son of David Grauman (who died in 1921 in Los Angeles, California) and Rosa Goldsmith (1853–1936). Grauman's parents were theatrical performers on various show circuits.

Death and legacy

Grauman received an honorary Academy Award in 1949 for raising the standard for film exhibition. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6379 Hollywood Blvd. He was one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

Grauman died of a coronary occlusion at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on March 5, 1950. He was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

After Grauman's death, a woman named Carrie Adair came forward with claims of being his common-law wife and the mother of his child. Adair produced a copy of a will and a letter naming her as Grauman's childhood sweetheart. Adair's sister, Agnes Gerlich, gave testimony that her sister was living in Texas during the time she was said to be with Grauman. She also stated that the child Adair referred to was actually her daughter and not Adair's.


Early years

Born to Jewish parents, Grauman and his father went to [Dawson City, Yukon] for the Gold Rush when he was a young man. He worked there as a paperboy. Since newspapers were scarce, they could command a dollar each. Grauman told a story about a store owner who purchased a newspaper from him for $50. The shopkeeper then read the paper aloud in his store, charging admission to local miners. In the Yukon, the young Grauman learned a lesson which would serve him the rest of his life: that people would willingly pay handsomely for entertainment. Sid and his father began organizing events like boxing matches, which paid them well. It was also in the Yukon that Grauman saw his first motion picture. A failed prospector in the Klondike gold rush, David Grauman initially took his young son to the Klondike with the idea of building a theater there. Though they did not strike gold, both of the Graumans were made considerably wealthy by their Klondike entertainment activities. When his father's sister became ill and he left the territory to care for her, young Grauman remained in Dawson City for a time. His parents settled in San Francisco and Grauman joined them there in 1900.

San Francisco

David and his son decided to open a vaudeville theater in San Francisco. Their first venture was on Market Street near Mason called the Unique Theater. Before long they added motion pictures to the vaudeville shows, and another theater called the Lyceum. As the theater manager, though Sid Grauman had seen just about every type of performance, there were some that startled and amazed him, turning down an offer to learn how to swallow swords. The Graumans were also instrumental in establishing the Northwest Vaudeville Company, which stretched from San Francisco to Minneapolis and Portland, Oregon. The association brought quality live entertainment at reasonable prices to the Northwest area of the US.

David Grauman tried his hand at expanding his theater business in New York City and the East Coast, where he was far from successful; for a time, Sid worked in Scranton, Pennsylvania at one of the theaters he and his father were interested in. David Grauman suffered enough financial loss to have the need to take a business partner in his Lyceum Theater, and to accept an offer from the partner to buy him out in 1905. He later arranged to take over the lease of the Lyceum, which would then evict his former partner from the theater in 1907. By early 1906, the Graumans had lost their lease of the Unique Theater. The building had been purchased by the president of the Orpheum Theater circuit and Grauman's rent was doubled by the new owner. The structure was able to house a theater only because Grauman had established one there before a fire ordinance prohibiting it was passed. Before his tenancy was over, Grauman hired a crew of men with axes to demolish the interior of the Unique, so it could not be re-built for use as a theater.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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