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Kodak Theatre, new home of Oscars, opens

On this day in 2001, the 3,400-seat Kodak Theatre, which was designed as the permanent home of the Academy Awards, opens in Hollywood. The Oscars were held at the Kodak Theatre for the first time on March 24, 2002. During the show, which was hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, A Beautiful Mind was named Best Picture, Halle Berry won Best Actress for her performance in Monster’s Ball and Denzel Washington collected the Best Actor award for Training Day. Berry and Washington’s wins marked the first time in Oscar history that African-American performers had triumphed in both the Best Actress and Best Actor categories.

The Kodak Theatre, located on Hollywood Boulevard near the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, was designed by architect David Rockwell and cost some $94 million to construct. The theatre features a five-story lobby with a grand spiral staircase, columns commemorating past winners of the Best Picture Oscar and a main stage area measuring 175 feet wide and 75 feet deep.

The first Academy Awards took place in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on May 16, 1929, and featured a banquet dinner attended by some 250 guests. Over the years, the Oscars have been held at a variety of venues, including Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (1944-1946), the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles (1947-1948) and the RKO Pantages Theater in Hollywood (1950-1960), which presented the first televised Oscars on March 19, 1953. From 1969 to 1987, the ceremony was held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Music Center of Los Angeles County. In 1988, the Oscars returned to the Shrine Auditorium. The show then rotated between the Shrine Auditorium and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion until 2002, when the Oscars were first held at the Kodak Theatre. The occasion also marked the first time the ceremony had been hosted in Hollywood since 1960.

In addition to the Academy Awards, the Kodak Theatre has hosted a variety of music and dance performances, as well as events such as the finals of the hit TV music competition American Idol and the Daytime Emmy Awards.

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