I dragged my mom to Hollywood last Friday to do a little Marilyn stalking. She wasn’t too keen on the idea, but I was absolutely dying to do something I had yet to do in all the years I have lived in LA – I wanted to put my hands in Marilyn Monroe’s handprints outside of the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been to Grauman’s Theatre, but never once had I put my hands in her handprints or even made it a point to go look at them. I was so excited to be there on Friday, that I actually walked right past Michael Caine’s freshly made handprints on prominent display in front of the theatre without so much as even taking a picture for the blog. LOL I am kicking myself now for not taking a picture as it was very cool to see how the handprints looked in an unfinished state. But what can I say, I was just too excited to see Marilyn. 🙂
Grauman’s Theatre has long been an iconic Hollywood symbol – almost a celebrity in and of itself. Grauman’s Chinese Theatre opened its doors on May 18, 1927. The Theatre was the brainchild of movie theatre owner Sid Grauman, who in 1922 built Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre, and his partners Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. Grauman, who passed away in 1950, now has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (near 6379 Hollywood Boulevard), and he was also one of the original founding members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Chinese theatre was purchased by the Mann’s Movie Theatre chain in 1973 and the name was changed to Mann’s Chinese Theatre. But in 2001 the original name was reinstated and the theatre is once again officially known as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.
The handprint tradition began one day in 1927 while the Chinese Theatre was still being built. Sid accidentally stepped into some fresh cement in front of the theatre, leaving his footprints behind which sparked a magical idea. He says he immediately ran to get his two partners, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, who did the same with their feet. The rest as they say is history. There are currently over 200 stars’ handprints and footprints immortalized in cement at the entrance to Grauman’s, including Tom Cruise, Betty Grable, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford and even R2D2 and Donald Duck.
It is interesting to note that Marilyn’s handprints are absolutely black with dirt, one hundred times dirtier than any of the other handprints at the Theatre. (You can see the dirt in the picture to the left.) Seeing that, it becomes quite apparent just how many fans come on a daily basis to place their hands in Marilyn’s famous handprints. Marilyn’s handprint ceremony took place along with Jane Russell on June 26, 1953 during the promotion of their movie Gentleman Prefer Blondes. You can watch their handprint ceremony here. If you look closely at the dot in the “i” of Marilyn’s name, you can see that it looks a bit odd. Marilyn had wanted to put a real diamond in the cement to mark the dot of the “i” in her name in honor of the song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” which she sings in the movie. The studio refused out of fear of it being stolen, but Marilyn was allowed to use a rhinestone instead. Apparently less than three days after the handprint ceremony that rhinestone was indeed stolen, so the theatre replaced it with a glass bead which has remained embedded in the cement ever since.
Several movies and TV shows have also been filmed outside the theatre, including Hollywood Homicide, I Love Lucy, The Beverly Hillbillies, Forest Gump, Blazing Saddles, Mighty Joe Young, Rush Hour, Borat, Goldmember, Earthquake, and A Star is Born. Although the theatre is a complete tourist trap and is always crowded with hordes of people, I highly recommend stalking it if you have not yet had the chance to do so. Grauman’s is a true Hollywood icon and a place everyone should see in person at least once in their lives. 🙂
Until next time, Happy Stalking! 🙂
Stalk It: Marilyn’s handprints can be found in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, which is located at 6925 Hollywood Boulevard, right in the heart of Hollywood. Her handprints are close to the doors of the Theatre, on the left hand side as you face the front of it. If you can’t find them, there are many theatre ushers standing around who can direct you to the right spot. You can still catch a movie at Grauman’s and I highly recommend doing so, as the theatre has recently been restored to its original grandeur and the interior is quite a sight to see.