Hollywood at Your Feet
by Stacey Endres and Robert Cushman
Foreword by Ginger Rogers
Softcover; 352 pages
8 1/2″ x 11″; 600 b&w photographs
In 1927 legendary screen stars Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks were the first celebrated Hollywood couple to place their hand and footprints in the famous Forecourt of the Stars.
Ginger Rogers provides the foreword to this and Hollywood’s Chinese Theatre, two intriguing books that celebrate the 84th anniversary of Hollywood’s Chinese Theatre. Built by Sid Grauman in 1927, the most famous motion picture palace in the world towers majestically above the 6900 block of Hollywood Boulevard. The Chinese Theatre’s Forecourt of the Stars attracts more than two million visitors annually.
Throughout its history and up to the present day, the theatre has served as a magnet to thousands of fans and tourists who flock to the site daily to view the flamboyant architecture and the historic cement squares in the theatre’s forecourt. The footprints, handprints, and signatures of nearly 200 of Hollywood’s most famous celebrities have been placed here, plus those of three comedy teams, one group of quintuplets, two robots and a villainous sci-fi character, one ventriloquist’s dummy, a radio character, and the world’s best known duck. The first hand and footprint ceremony (Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks) took place April 30, 1927. The original cast members of “Star Trek” celebrated their 25th anniversary in a ceremony on December 5, 1991, and the most recent ceremonies honored Helen Mirren, Peter O’Toole and Jennifer Aniston.
Among these anecdotes…
- Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell: Prior to their ceremony, Marilyn suggested that Jane should lean over in the cement while she, Marilyn, ought to sit down in it to “leave prints that better reflect our personalities.” Marilyn dotted the “I” in her name with a rhinestone in reference to her hit song, “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” from the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. It was reported that two days later, once the cement had dried, Marilyn walked to the theatre from her nearby apartment at 2 am to stand in her own footprints.
- John Wayne had two 100-pound sacks of sand shipped from Iwo Jima to mix in the cement for his ceremony in connection with the film, Sands of Iwo Jima, in 1949.
- Betty Grable, the servicemen’s favorite pin-up in World War II, was assisted in her ceremony by uniformed representatives of the Army, Navy, and Marines — and fittingly imprinted one of her “million-dollar legs.”
- Among the 213 personalities who have cast their footprints in the Forecourt during its 65 years are screen couples Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Myrna Loy and William Powell, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Clark Gable and Jean Harlow, and Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. Other duos: Hope and Crosby, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy — and Roy Rogers and Trigger.
- John Barrymore even cast his famous facial profile, Jimmy Durante pressed his proboscis and Harold Lloyd planted his wire rim glasses in the wet cement.
- Then there are the names that call up poignant and often tragic memories: Jean Harlow, Natalie Wood, Judy Garland, Ava Gardner and Rock Hudson.
- There are even elements of mystery and intrigue: what happened to Charlie Chaplin’s footprints that mysteriously disappeared? The five footprints of the Dionne Quintuplets? What’s the story behind the footprint ceremonies that did not take place: Barbara Streisand, Lauren Bacall, Greta Garbo and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.?
- Other screen legends and famous personalities in this book include Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Eddie Murphy, Jean Harlow, Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, all four Marx Brothers, Shirley Temple, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney and Jimmy Stewart.
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.
– “A Psalm of Life,” Wordsworth
Note: Pocket size version available