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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

Famous Footprints Revealed at TCMFF 2011 Opening

Robert Osborne was on hand Thursday morning at the Classic Film Festival’s Club TCM to help unveil the original and once forgotten concrete slabs that launched a unique Hollywood tradition. The concrete slabs on display feature the footprints of Movie Theater Impresario Sid Grauman, and the footprints of Silent Screen legends Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.

Apparently, the story goes, that theater owner Sid Grauman had stepped into the wet concrete by accident during a grand opening ceremony. Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford were present at the opening and spontaneously followed suit, launching a long standing Hollywood trademark located in the forecourt of the world-famous Chinese Theatre.

The original three prints were removed and placed aside while the Walk of Fame was being installed, but were never replaced. Some how over the years they became the personal property of various individuals and ended up in the estate of the Olaerts family. And now for the first time in nearly two decades the slabs are presented for public display.

Osborne gave a brief explanation of the history of the slabs before giving the microphone over to a pretty young representative of the Olaerts family who filled in the end of the history. Then the two worked together to pull back the veils and present the concrete squares to the waiting crowd. I was close enough to touch them, but settled for some snap shots instead. And as faded and worn as some of the concrete was you could still see the print and the actual signatures of the historic Hollywood luminaries. It was a magical moment, which is what the TCM Classic Film Festival is all about.

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