Monday, 13 April 2015

Norma Talmadge and the Footprints at Grauman's Chinese Theater

Did you know that the famous footprint ceremonies at Grauman's Chinese Theater were accidentally created by silent film star Norma Talmadge?

Norma Talmadge (1894-1957)
After his success with the Egyptian Theatre, established in 1922, showman Sid Grauman asked real estate developer Charles E. Toberman to secure a lease on a property at 6925 Hollywood Boulevard. Toberman subsequently contacted the architure firm Meyer & Holler, responsible for the Egyptian, to design a "palace type theatre" of Chinese influence. Grauman financed and owner one-third interest in the theatre, while his partners Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Howard Schenck owned the remainder. Under the guidance of principal architect Raymond M. Kennedy, the Chinese Theatre was built over a period of 18 months, starting in January 1926. Many of the fittings were imported from China and Chinese artisans were hired to create a number of sculptures that were placed in the theatre's forecourt (these works are now housed inside the theatre). The grand opening of Grauman's Chinese Theatre was held on March 18, 1927, with the premiere of Cecil B. DeMille's biblical epic The King of Kings (1927).

Near the end of construction, Grauman invited Pickford, Fairbanks and Norma Talmadge to take a look at the Chinese Theatre. When Talmadge stepped out of the cat, she accidentally placed her foot directly on wet cement, leaving an imprint behind. Rather than being annoyed, Grauman decided that it would be a wonderful idea of invite the most popular Hollywood stars to leave their hand and footprints on cement, thus immortalizing them for all time. In honor of Talmadge and the inspiration her little accident gave him, Grauman asked her to be first personality to place her hands and feet in the cement at the Chinese Theatre's first footprint ceremony on May 18, 1927. She signed the cement block with the following: "Sid dear my wish is for your success Norma Talmadge."

Talmadge and Grauman at the first footprint ceremony

Talmadge's prints at Grauman's Chinese Theater

Eureka!: The Surprising Stories Behind the Ideas That Shaped the World by Marlene Wagman-Geller (2010)

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