The Fate of the Original Walk of Fame Footprints

posted June 11, 2011

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.

Douglas Fairbanks & Mary Pickford; Library of Congress
That memorialization occurred by accident, when the theater’s owner, Sid Grauman, asked the three stars to walk across Hollywood Boulevard from the Roosevelt Hotel to his new theater, then under construction. When they stepped onto the theater’s sidewalk, they stepped into wet cement. The actors then picked up a nail from the ground and signed their names next to those prints. Pickford dated hers.

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.

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