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Does The Chinese Theatre Think Souvenir Stands Are More Important Than Hollywood History?

A 1928 postcard of the Chinese Theatre. (Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)
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A potential affront to Hollywood's character has been averted thanks to the efforts of a ragtag coalition of neighborhood interests banding together and voicing their cause. No, I'm not talking about NIMBYs fighting skyscrapers on Sunset Boulevard—I'm talking about the TCL Chinese Theatre, and its choice to set up crappy souvenir stands atop the the footprints and handprints of Hollywood history—Jean Harlow and Lana Turner specifically. After a Vintage Los Angeles Facebook post on Friday spawned outrage across the internet, the stands disappeared from atop the starlet's impressed concrete.

The original Facebook post includes a picture of a cheap (in everything but the price tag) souvenir stand hawking hats and shirts to tourists from within the Chinese Theatre's courtyard. Perched suspiciously close to the usually mobbed Walk of Fame, you can clearly see that the stand is set up atop some of the theatre's star-studded cement.

That the stand existed on the theatre's property implies that the stand's proprietor pays rent to the theatre and its owner. Alternatively, the stand could have also been operated directly by the theatre itself. Either way, its role for the TCL was raw monetary gain.

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Unhappy with the wanton display of heedless capitalism at the Chinese Theatre, more than 2,600 people signed a petition entitled "Remove vendor carts from Grauman's [sic] Chinese Theatre historic forecourt before it's too late."

From the petition:

The weight of them [the carts] place undue stress on the blocks, and over time, the rolling and moving of carts across the cement could cause chipping or other irrevocable damage. They are unprotected, and the existence of these carts and the crass commercialism existing with them is disrespectful to the background and value of the forecourt. The carts are offering a tacky appearance to this historic landmark, and they add nothing in terms of Hollywood history.

Crass commercialism, indeed! While the stands have since disappeared, the director of the Historic Theatre Foundation (one of the petition's targets) opined in a Facebook post of his own that it's perfectly fine for the Chinese Theatre to hawk "Cali" baseball caps from its historic forecourt if they want to.

The footprints are probably better protected under the portable carts than they are being walked on by millions of people each year! The Chinese Theatre is a business, not a museum, and whether one person or a million people walk into the Forecourt to take a selfie with their favorite star's footprints, they make no money to pay for insurance, maintenance, upkeep or improvements. Renting space to souvenir stands is one way of making some revenue from the tourists who come to take pictures, but not to see a movie.

Anyway, the carts are gone. For now:

[H/T: Curbed LA]

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