Missing footprints at Grauman’s Chinese


Tracing lost steps of Grauman’s first footprints



Iconic Hollywood tradition began by accident, and original concrete slabs are now in airport hangar


By Tara Wallis-Finestone and Chuck Henry


It’s an iconic event known throughout the world. For the past 85 years, only the biggest stars in Hollywood have been immortalized with their hands and feet in cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.


But NBCLA has discovered a critical piece of Hollywood history is missing from the theater’s famous forecourt.


The original footprints that started it all have been hidden for decades. In fact, not even the company that owns Grauman’s Theatre knew about these potentially priceless footprints.


“I was not aware that the ones we have in the forecourt are not the originals,” said Peter Dobson, CEO of Mann Theatres, the company that owns Grauman’s Chinese. “If they are missing and we just got the practice slabs in there, I’m devastated to know that.”


“I have no interest in giving them back to Grauman’s,” said Nick Olaerts, a former Hollywood developer who claims to own the slabs. “Decades ago, I had wanted to give them back to Grauman’s, a donation in the name of my children, but the theater’s owner at the time, Ted Mann, wasn’t interested in taking them back.”


Instead, Olaerts gave the slabs to his friend Larry Buchanan, an airplane mechanic who put them in storage at his airport hangar east of Los Angeles. Over the years, Buchanan and Olaerts have tried numerous times to sell the slabs, Buchanan even at one point put them on eBay.





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5 Responses to “Missing footprints at Grauman’s Chinese”

  1. Landman says:

    Was there anyone around the construction site other than the man who “Took them home” that thought it was odd these priceless Hollywood artifacts should be taken up like “junk concrete slabs” and discarded? I think there is something really wrong with this event! Why would anyone think the footprints and signed names of three of the biggest all time Movie Stars are not wanted as they are from another “Era”? If I had the honor of owning such a Great Place like Grauman’s, I would protect these ” Treasures” with my life!!!! I would fight any construction that would in any way alter or destroy these “Gem”. And to think that no one cared enough to know they were missing. Allan, thank you for posting this, I hope this will open the eyes of many who do not take History seriously. We need to preserve our past, so the future can see what we had done. I hope that these precious slabs can return to Grauman’s, and once again be admired by all.

  2. elrose says:

    M father is the one who owens the lost footprints… he didnt just decide to take them. as a child i watched him try to preserve hollywoods natural wonder. i grew up at the el capitan and rocket hollywood candy store accross the street. my father restored that theatre!! he is in love with old hollywood. ive heard him on the phone trying to return the footprint to grauman’s and for them to say no one has ever contacted them befor makes me sad.

  3. larry nelson says:

    Perhaps this is just a unique situation and it can be easily resolved. Since all parties desire to return the slabs, what else is needed? Does the theatre not want them?

  4. larry nelson says:

    I apologize, I missed part of the above article. If the theatre does not want them, I would be happy to buy one, at a reasonable price. Leave a note here so I can reach you for a list of names of those available.

  5. Elrose says:

    Hello Larry Nelson … There are always many sides to one story 🙂 Do you have an email So I can send you more information?

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