On June 26, 1953, Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe participated in the most Hollywood of rituals: memorializing their hand in footprints in cement in the courtyard of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. By that time, Jane had been an internationally-known personality for over a decade, but was still honored to be included. Never one to exhibit much vanity and always a fan of personal comfort, Jane later said, “I was wearing my usual big shoes, so no aspiring actress will have any trouble whatsoever getting her feet into my footprints!” The pair were presented together as a publicity stunt for their film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and Marilyn wanted to dot the “i” in her name with a diamond. She got a rhinestone instead which was quickly pried out my a souvenir hunter, but the impression of the stone remains.
As big a star as Jane Russell was, Marilyn Monroe became a super nova and remains so. Any photos of Jane with Monroe that come up for sale are usually more than I am willing to pay, but I did manage to get two snapshots from the Grauman’s event on eBay. One, I’ll be using in the book. This is the other one which was dirt cheap, presumably because no one realized Marilyn was in it. She’s off to the side, but is looking right at Jane and smiling, which is actually a wonderful candid moment between the two women who were genuinely fond of each other.
Even though I grew up in Southern California and now live 10 minutes away from the Chinese Theatre, I have to admit that never tire of walking around that courtyard. I am still blown away that the tangible remnants of that day in 1953 still exist and can be visited. The last time I visited Marilyn and Jane’s prints was in December. Looking forward to when I can do that again.