Drive by the Chinese Theatre on any day of the year, and you'll find hundreds of tourists milling about the famous forecourt, gazing down at the stars' footprints, handprints and autographs immortalized in the legendary cement.
here to see a map of the forecourt
This renowned forecourt represents a virtual "Who's Who" of Hollywood superstars, including Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Jimmy Stewart, Shirley Temple, John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant, Bing Crosby, Jean Harlow, Rock Hudson, Bette Davis, Paul Newman, Judy Garland, the entire cast of the original "Star Trek," Jack Nicholson and Clint Eastwood - to name just a few.
There have only been about 175 star prints made so far, and the remaining empty space in the theatre's small forecourt is scarce - so the honor is now reserved solely for true Hollywood superstars.
But new footprints are still being added to the illustrious sidewalk. In recent years, popular actors Harrison Ford, Eddie Murphy, Tom Cruise, Michael Keaton, Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone and Mel Gibson received the honor of placing their hands and feet in the famous wet cement. So did directors Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, along with the "Star Wars" characters of Darth Vader, R2D2 and C-3PO.
In July of 2007, the three young stars of the "Harry Potter" movies (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson & Rupert Grint) placed their hand, foot and wand-prints in the wet cement.
The most recent recipients of this honor were Nicolas Cage, Richard Gere, Martin Lawrence, Anthony Hopkins, Robin Williams, Tom Hanks, Danny Glover, Warren Beatty, Denzel Washington, Whoopi Goldberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis, Steven Seagal, Jim Carrey, Al Pacino, Robert Zemekis, Walter Matthau, Ron Howard and Michael Douglas (whose footprints are now right above his dad Kirk's).
Two million visitors a year can't be wrong. As hokey as it sounds, searching for your favorite star's autograph - from among the 200+, multicolored blocks in the cement courtyard - is genuinely fun. Tourists can't seem to resist comparing their shoe size to the stars' footprints. ("Look! My foot is almost as big as Darth Vader's! ") But few can match the smallest adult footprint in the forecourt, which belongs to Jeanette MacDonald. It measures just 6 1/2 inches. Even smaller are the barefoot, childhood footprints of Shirley Temple.
You'll find all of your favorites here: Frank Sinatra, Charlton Heston, Gregory Peck, Gene Kelly, Natalie Wood, Mickey Rooney, Tyrone Power, Julie Andrews, Kirk Douglas, Steve McQueen, Danny Kaye, Doris Day, Eddie Cantor, Henry Fonda, Alan Ladd, Sophia Loren, Edward G. Robinson, Carmen Miranda, Joan Crawford, the Marx Brothers, Lana Turner, Gloria Swanson, George Burns, Debby Reynolds, Myrna Loy, Red Skelton, Abbott & Costello, Yul Brenner, Jack Benny, Gary Cooper, Sidney Poitier, Jack Lemmon, Nelson Eddy, William Powell, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers...
Some of the stars' autographs can be entertaining as well - Clint Eastwood signed "You made my day!"; Sly Stallone wrote "Keep punching America!," and Arnold Schwarzenegger scribbled "I'll be back!" next to the imprint of his size-12 boots. Movie tough-guy Humphrey Bogart wrote "May you never die until I kill you!."
Two legendary sex-symbols, Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, put their prints in the cement on the same day, and wrote across the top of both squares: "Gentlemen prefer blondes!" Marilyn dotted the "i" in her first name with a large rhinestone (but the gem was later chiseled out of the cement by an overzealous tourist).
It is said that Marilyn proposed putting her bottom in the cement, and suggested that Jane Russell immortalize her famous top there as well, but neither one was allowed...
Harpo Marx is one of only two adult stars not to wear shoes (the other is Sean Connery); Harpo also sketched a small harp next to the impression of his bare feet. And ventriloquist Edgar Bergen drew a quick caricature of his friend, "Charlie McCarthy," in the wet cement - complete monocle and top hat.
Many of these celebrity autographs mention "Sid." If you wonder just who this "Sid" was, wonder no more. He was none other than the legendary Sid Grauman, the man who built the Chinese Theatre (and the Egyptian), who invented the idea of the grand movie premiere, and who also came up with the gimmick of putting the stars footprints in cement (beginning back in 1927 with Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Norma Talmadge.)
The forecourt is open free of charge to all visitors. You do not have to buy a ticket to a movie at the theatre to view its famous forecourt.
here to see a map of the forecourt
here for more information about how to see
the stars in person
Click here for information about the interior of the theatre.
Getting there: The Chinese Theatre is located at the northeast corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Orange Drive, just west of Highland Avenue. The theatre's renowned forecourt is right in front of the theatre, and is open free of charge to visitors. / From Hollywood and Vine, just drive west on Hollywood Boulevard (less than a mile) to just past Highland Avenue (and just before Orange Drive). The theatre will be on your right (north) side. You can't miss it. /From the Hollywood (101) Freeway, take the Hollywood Boulevard exit, then go west on Hollywood Boulevard a mile and a half, to just past Highland.
a complete list of the dates of the foot & handprint ceremonies at
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Copyright © 2013-Gary Wayne
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