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.