In 1927, three stars of the silent-film era, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, and Norma Talmadge became the first three film stars to have their footprints preserved in concrete in the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.
A few months later, Grauman began the movie-star footprints tradition with his first ceremony in the forecourt, with the same three stars. The three accidentally imprinted slabs remained in place until 1958, when they were removed to make way for the Walk of Fame. They next turned up in 1981, when the widow of the building contractor who constructed the Walk of Fame wrote to city officials from Arizona, offering to sell slabs back.
How they ended up in the possession of an airplane mechanic, stored in his storage hangar east of Los Angeles, is revealed in an article from NBC Los Angeles.