Grauman’s Chinese Theatre Forecourt

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The TCL Chinese Theatre forecourt is one of the most exciting places for a classic film fan to visit. While Hollywood Blvd is always bustling with activity and tourists from all over the world, classic film fans will especially enjoy making the pilgrimage to the front of the theater. There, immortalized in cement, they will find the prints and sentiments of Hollywood royalty, which continue to be frequented and photographed heavily each day. Day after day, tourists from all parts of the globe meander through the court to admire the many sentiments left behind from Hollywood’s bygone Golden Age, or see how they measure up to their favorite stars by placing their hands or feet in the cement prints.

TCL Chinese Theatre is located at 6925 Hollywood Blvd and was originally, and more commonly, known as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. It was commissioned after the success of nearby Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre and built by a partnership headed by showman Sid Grauman. Grauman’s Chinese Theatre opened on May 18, 1927, with the premiere of Cecil B. DeMille’s The King of Kings (1927). Since its opening, it has been home to a wide variety of premieres and parties, including three Academy Awards ceremonies.

While the theater has changed names several times, one consistent feature has been the location of the concrete blocks set in the forecourt. After collecting nearly 200 signatures, footprints, and handprints of motion picture stars from 1927 to the present, the forecourt boasts one of the most prominent displays of Golden Age Hollywood history.

There are conflicting tales as to how this tradition of prints began. The official account from the theater holds that Norma Talmadge inspired the tradition when she accidentally stepped in wet concrete. Grauman, on the other hand, claimed that he had walked into wet cement by accident and was struck with the idea, prompting him to ask Mary Pickford to put her prints in the cement. Jean Klossner, otherwise known as “Mr. Footprint” for performing the footprint ceremonies and building the Chinese Theater, claimed that he autographed his work next to a poster kiosk, leading him and Grauman to come up with the idea at that moment.

Honorees are determined by a jury and are expected to have made a lasting impact upon cinema. As a result, the honorees are not confined to actors. Honorees have included musicians, producers, athletes, cars, animals, etc.

During the ceremony, the stars first write their inscriptions and a date into the cement. However, something as simple as a date can arouse superstitions. Gary Cooper’s ceremony fell on Friday the 13th, so Cooper wrote his date as the 14th instead. Jimmy Stewart, on the other hand, had his ceremony on a Friday the 13th. To prove that he did not believe in superstitions, he posed under a ladder with a black cat on a leash.

Next, the stars kneel on a low bench and push their hands into the wet concrete for thirty seconds. They are then cleaned off with a damp and then dry towel. The feet then follow, with most stars keeping their shoes on. The pens and any dirtied shoes or other items are typically donated to the theater.

Initially, most prints featured a sentiment to Grauman (usually “To Sid”) as well as hand and footprints. In the case of Myrna Loy’s print, she offers a sentiment to Grauman thanking her for her first job as a dancer at the theatre in the 1920s, in addition to leaving her prints. While she held a deep gratitude for Grauman, she and William Powell showed up in clown shoes for the ceremony as a prank.

Over time, variations on this tradition began to emerge. For example, Harold Lloyd imprinted his eyeglasses, Groucho Marx imprinted a cigar, Betty Grable imprinted a leg, John Barrymore and Jimmy Durante imprinted their profiles, etc. A walk through the forecourt demonstrates so much gratitude and creativity, with each star offering his or her own unique print upon the industry.

The dedications did have their complications. In the case of Jean Harlow, her first cement slab of prints dried too quickly and was destroyed. The first of Harlow’s ceremonies was Sid’s attempt to have it in front of a live and paying audience. While the slab was being moved, one half of it fell to the floor and broke apart in front of the audience. She was honored four days later, offering a sentiment, handprints, footprints, and three black pennies embedded in the cement for good luck. The second ceremony occurred in the forecourt in front of a crowd attending free-of-charge. The pennies have since been picked out. Marilyn Monroe wanted to dot her “i” with a diamond. While the theater manager decided against the idea, she placed an earring in the cement. While the earring was stolen and resurfaced at auction, the backing remains.

The prints also protect various buried treasures. Beneath Greer Garson’s slab is a time capsule intended as a WWII tribute. Inside, it holds the manuscript, screenplay, and film print for Mrs. Miniver (1942). The forecourt also holds an additional time capsule that was placed in 1977.

When I visited the forecourt in October 2018, I photographed the vast majority of prints, focusing upon those that specifically relate to classic cinema. While this list will grow over time, the photos are not exhaustive, in an effort to keep with the theme of classic film stars being celebrated on this blog. Moreover, not all prints are on display. There are space issues, so some prints are either in storage or being repaired. Promotional prints, such as Herbie the Love Bug’s skids, are not considered historical ceremonies and are later removed from the forecourt. The remainder of the article offers an overview of the prints and basic information about them, separated by the decade.


Imprinted in the 1920s: 

  • Norma Talmadge (post dated for the opening day May 18, 1927)
  • Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (April 30, 1927)
  • Norma Shearer (August 1, 1927)
  • Harold Lloyd (November 21, 1927)

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  • William S. Hart (November 28, 1927)
  • Tom Mix and Tony the Wonder Horse (December 12, 1927)

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  • Constance Talmadge (circa 1927)

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  • Pola Negri (April 2, 1928)

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  • Bebe Daniels (May 11, 1929)

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  • Marion Davies (May 13, 1929)
  • Janet Gaynor (May 29, 1929)

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  • Joan Crawford (September 14, 1929)

Imprinted in the 1930s: 

  • Ann Harding (August 30, 1930)
  • Raoul Walsh (November 14, 1930)
  • Wallace Beery and Marie Dressler (January 31, 1931)
  • Jackie Cooper (December 12, 1931)
  • Eddie Cantor (March 9, 1932)
  • Diana Wynyard (January 26, 1933)

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  • The Marx Brothers (February 17, 1933)
  • Jean Harlow (September 25 and September 29, 1933)
  • Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald (December 4, 1934)
  • Shirley Temple (March 14, 1935)
  • Joe E. Brown (March 5, 1936)
  • Al Jolson (March 12, 1936)
  • Freddie Bartholomew (April 4, 1936)
  • Clark Gable and W. S. Van Dyke (January 20, 1937)
  • Dick Powell and Joan Blondell (February 10, 1937)

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  • Sonja Henie (June 28, 1937)
  • The Ritz Brothers (September 22, 1937)
  • Eleanor Powell (December 23, 1937)
  • Don Ameche (January 27, 1938)
  • Fred Astaire (February 4, 1938)
  • Deanna Durbin (February 7, 1938)
  • Alice Faye and Tony Martin (March 20, 1938)
  • Jean Hersholt (October 11, 1938)
  • Mickey Rooney (October 18, 1938)
  • Nelson Eddy (December 28, 1938)
  • Ginger Rogers (September 5, 1939)
  • Judy Garland (October 10, 1939)
  • Jane Withers (November 6, 1939)
  • Andrew Campa (November 12, 1939)

Imprinted in the 1940s: 

  • Linda Darnell (March 18, 1940)
  • Rosa Grauman (mother of theatre owner, Sid) and George Raft (March 25, 1940)
  • Carmen Miranda (March 24, 1941)
  • Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Taylor (June 11, 1941)
  • Rudy Vallée (July 21, 1941)

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  • Cecil B. DeMille (August 7, 1941)
  • The Family of Judge James K. Hardy (August 15, 1941)
  • Abbott and Costello (December 8, 1941)
  • Edward Arnold (January 6, 1942)

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  • Joan Fontaine (May 26, 1942)
  • Greer Garson (July 23, 1942)
  • Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour (February 5, 1943)
  • Betty Grable (February 15, 1943)
  • Monty Woolley (May 28, 1943)
  • Gary Cooper (August 13, 1943)
  • Esther Williams and Private Joe Brain (August 1, 1944)
  • Gene Tierney and Sid Grauman (January 24, 1945)
  • Jack Oakie (February 21, 1945)
  • Jimmy Durante (October 31, 1945)
  • Margaret O’Brien (August 15, 1946)
  • Humphrey Bogart (August 21, 1946)
  • Louella Parsons (September 30, 1946)
  • Ray Milland (April 17, 1947)

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  • George Jessel (March 1, 1949)
  • Roy Rogers and Trigger (April 21, 1949)
  • Richard Widmark and Charles Nelson (April 24, 1949)
  • Jean Hersholt (October 20, 1949)
  • Anne Baxter and Gregory Peck (December 15, 1949)
  • Gene Autry and Champion (December 23, 1949)

Imprinted in the 1950s: 

  • John Wayne (January 25, 1950)
  • William Lundigan (December 29, 1950)
  • Cary Grant (July 16, 1951)
  • Hildegard Knef (as Hildegarde Neff) (December 13, 1951)
  • Oskar Werner (December 13, 1951)
  • Jane Wyman (September 17, 1952)
  • Ava Gardner (October 21, 1952)
  • Clifton Webb (December 7, 1952)
  • Olivia de Havilland (December 9, 1952)
  • Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell (June 26, 1953)
  • Jean Simmons (September 24, 1953)
  • Danny Thomas (January 26, 1954)
  • James Mason (March 30, 1954)
  • Alan Ladd (May 12, 1954)

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  • Edmund Purdom (August 30, 1954)
  • Van Heflin (October 8, 1954)
  • George Murphy (November 8, 1954)
  • Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr (March 22, 1956)
  • Elmer C. Rhoden (September 16, 1958)
  • Rosalind Russell (February 19, 1959)

Imprinted in the 1960s: 

  • Cantinflas (December 28, 1960)
  • Doris Day (January 19, 1961)
  • Natalie Wood (December 5, 1961)
  • Charlton Heston (January 18, 1962)
  • Sophia Loren (July 26, 1962)
  • Kirk Douglas (November 1, 1962)
  • Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward (May 25, 1963)
  • Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine (June 29, 1963)
  • Peter Sellers (June 3, 1964)
  • Debbie Reynolds (January 14, 1965)
  • Julie Andrews (March 26, 1966)
  • Gene Kelly (November 24, 1969)

Imprinted in the 1970s: 

  • Ali MacGraw (December 14, 1972)
  • Jack Nicholson (June 17, 1974)
  • Tom Bradley and Ted Mann (May 18, 1977)
  • Herbie the Love Bug (July 11, 1977)

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  • Darth Vader (August 3, 1977)
  • C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) (August 3, 1977)
  • George Burns (January 25, 1979)

Imprinted in the 1980s:

  • John Travolta (June 2, 1980)
  • Burt Reynolds (September 24, 1981)
  • Rhonda Fleming (September 28, 1981)

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  • Sylvester Stallone (June 29, 1983)
  • George Lucas and Steven Spielberg (May 16, 1984)
  • Donald Duck and Clarence Nash (May 21, 1984)
  • Clint Eastwood (August 21, 1984)
  • Eddie Murphy and Hollywood’s 100th Anniversary (May 14, 1987)

Imprinted in the 1990s:

  • Cast of Star Trek: (December 5, 1991)
    • Gene Roddenberry
    • William Shatner
    • Leonard Nimoy
    • DeForest Kelley
    • Nichelle Nichols
    • James Doohan
    • George Takei
    • Walter Koenig
  • Harrison Ford (June 4, 1992)
  • Michael Keaton (June 15, 1992)
  • Tom Cruise (June 15, 1993)
  • Mel Gibson (August 23, 1993)
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger (July 14, 1994)
  • Meryl Streep (September 25, 1994)
  • Whoopi Goldberg (February 2, 1995)
  • Bruce Willis (May 18, 1995)
  • Steven Seagal (July 10, 1995)
  • Jim Carrey (November 2, 1995)
  • Jackie Chan (January 5, 1997)[9]
  • Johnny Grant (May 13, 1997)
  • Robert Zemeckis (July 8, 1997)
  • Michael Douglas (September 10, 1997)
  • Al Pacino (October 16, 1997)
  • Denzel Washington (January 15, 1998)
  • Walter Matthau (April 2, 1998)
  • Warren Beatty (May 21, 1998)
  • Danny Glover (July 7, 1998)
  • Tom Hanks (July 23, 1998)
  • Robin Williams (December 22, 1998)
  • Susan Sarandon (January 11, 1999)
  • William F. “Bill” Hertz (March 18, 1999)
  • Ron Howard (March 23, 1999)
  • Sean Connery (April 13, 1999)
  • Richard Gere (July 26, 1999)
  • Terry Semel and Robert A. Daly (September 30, 1999)

Imprinted in the 2000s:

  • Anthony Hopkins (January 11, 2001)
  • Nicolas Cage (August 14, 2001)
  • Martin Lawrence (November 19, 2001)
  • John Woo (May 21, 2002)
  • Morgan Freeman (June 5, 2002)
  • Christopher Walken (October 8, 2004)
  • Jack Valenti (December 6, 2004)
  • Sherry Lansing (February 16, 2005)
  • Adam Sandler (May 17, 2005)
  • Johnny Depp (September 16, 2005)
  • Samuel L. Jackson (January 30, 2006)
  • Kevin Costner (September 6, 2006)
  • Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Jerry Weintraub (June 5, 2007)
  • Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson (along with their wands from the Harry Potter series) (July 9, 2007)
  • Johnny Grant (July 9, 2007) placed hands and footprints in concrete second time
  • Will Smith (December 10, 2007)
  • Michael Caine (July 11, 2008)
  • Hugh Jackman (April 21, 2009)
  • Robert Downey Jr. (December 7, 2009)

Imprinted in the 2010s:

  • Jerry Bruckheimer (May 17, 2010)
  • Cher (November 18, 2010)
  • Robert Duvall (January 5, 2011)
  • Helen Mirren (March 28, 2011)
  • Peter O’Toole (April 30, 2011)
  • Jennifer Aniston (July 7, 2011)
  • Mickey Rourke (October 31, 2011)
  • Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner (November 3, 2011)
  • Robert Pattinson (November 3, 2011)
  • Russ Tamblyn, George Chakiris, and Rita Moreno (November 15, 2011)
  • Michael Jackson (January 26, 2012)[10][11]
  • Kim Novak (April 14, 2012)
  • Lee Byung-hun and Ahn Sung-ki (June 23, 2012)
  • Christopher Nolan (July 7, 2012)
  • Demi Lovato (September 11, 2012)
  • Britney Spears (September 11, 2012)
  • Robert De Niro (February 4, 2013)
  • Jane Fonda (April 27, 2013)
  • Jackie Chan (June 6, 2013)[12][13]
  • Jerry Maren (September 18, 2013)[14]
  • Sandra Bullock (September 25, 2013)
  • Feng Xiaogang (November 1, 2013)
  • Emma Thompson (November 7, 2013)
  • John Goodman (November 15, 2013)
  • Ben Stiller (December 3, 2013)
  • Jerry Lewis (April 12, 2014)
  • Melissa McCarthy (July 2, 2014)
  • Mel Brooks (September 8, 2014)
  • Peter Cullen (September 30, 2014)
  • Gena Rowlands (December 2, 2014)
  • Ethan Hawke (January 8, 2015)
  • Vince Vaughn (March 4, 2015)
  • Christopher Plummer (March 27, 2015)
  • Vin Diesel (April 1, 2015)
  • Dwayne Johnson (May 19, 2015)
  • Justin Lin, Zhao Wei, and Huang Xiaoming (June 3, 2015)
  • Katy Perry (September 9, 2015)
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth (October 31, 2015)
  • Quentin Tarantino (January 5, 2016)
  • Francis Ford Coppola (April 29, 2016)
  • Roland Emmerich (June 20, 2016)
  • Tim Burton (September 8, 2016)
  • Jeffrey Katzenberg (September 29, 2016)
  • Jessica Chastain (November 3, 2016)
  • Donnie Yen (November 30, 2016)
  • Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling (December 7, 2016)

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  • Jeff Bridges (January 6, 2017)
  • Rob Reiner and Carl Reiner (April 7, 2017)
  • Ridley Scott (May 17, 2017)
  • Michael Bay (May 23, 2017)[16]
  • Stan Lee (July 18, 2017)[17]
  • Tamer Hosny (August 9, 2017)[18][19]
  • Kenneth Branagh (October 26, 2017)[20]
  • Mariah Carey (November 1, 2017)[21]
  • Lionel Richie (March 7, 2018)
  • Cicely Tyson (April 27, 2018)

While it is easy to purchase a souvenir or memento on Hollywood Blvd, the ability to place your hands in cemented history is far more rare. Visitors should not miss the opportunity to do so in Hollywood.

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