It was built by showman Sid Grauman, who also built the nearby Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard and the Million Dollar Theater on Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles.
The exterior of the theater supposedly resembles a giant, red Chinese pagoda. The architecture features a huge Chinese dragon across the front, two stone lion-dogs guarding the main entrance, and the silhouettes of tiny dragons up and down the sides of the copper roof.
Before the Chinese Theater officially opened, Sid Grauman gave a tour to some celebrities. Because the actress Norma Talmadge unintentionally walked across a wet slab of cement, he came up with the idea to have other movie stars do the same. Thus, Norma was the first.
The theater was purchased in 1973 by Ted Mann, owner of the Mann's Theater chain and husband of actress Rhonda Fleming, who renamed it Mann's Chinese Theater.
Thousands of people from all around the world regularly go through the famous forecourt looking at the foot and hand prints of the stars.
Grauman's Chinese Theater is also a first-run movie theater where, for the price of a ticket, a visitor can see a film in the well preserved interior, which has been fully renovated and restored.