Concrete is everywhere, it encapsulates our entire lives at home, at work and at leisure.
A durable and ancient material, where would we be without it? It can be set into fantastic architectural structures or the most mundane, yet essential paving slabs. There are self-confessed concrete enthusiasts out there, people who log new concrete buildings, roads and objects.
It may seem somewhat dull to you and me, however, not all concrete usage is dreary or uninspiring. Take Sid Grauman’s innovative use of the grey stuff.
Grauman was an American showman, born 1879. In the 1920s he acquired a cinema which he turned into a Chinese style theatre. He asked workers to develop an extra hard concrete for the cinema forecourt. During construction, he experienced a ‘eureka’ moment that would put him and his theatre on the map forever.
Grauman reportedly stepped into some of the newly-laid concrete, leaving a foot print. From this he got the idea of asking movie stars to put their hand prints in the concrete and autograph them. We’re referring, of course, to the now legendary Mann’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.
The first star to be ‘captured’ was actress, Norma Taladge, who claims that it was she, by accidentally treading wet concrete, came up with the idea. Influential movie stars, directors and founders of International Artists, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford were second and third.
We can only hope that someone has had the foresight to use a concrete sealer on each of those blocks, before the elements wash those hand prints away.
Over the years, ‘footprint ceremonies’ have been performed for Humphrey Bogart, Rita Hayworth, Cary Grant, Charlie Chaplin, Judy Garland, you name it, they’ve done it. Fans from around the world flock to see how tiny Marylin Monroe’s feet were and to place their hands where Frank Sinatra did.
Preserved (hopefully) forever in concrete are also the ‘Harry Potter’ wands of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, John Wayne’s fist and Bob Hope’s nose.
Grauman sold the theatre to Fox and eventually is was sold to Ted Mann, hence the name. While the theatre hasn’t been owned by the Mann chain for ten years now, the name has stuck and it continues to serve the public as a cinema today.
Originally posted 2011-11-11 05:37:57.