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George Burns makes his mark with a cigar

George Burns makes his mark with a cigar

Nov. 25, 1979: George Burns makes a handprint, then cigar print, in cement outside Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

Staff writer David Larsen reported in the next morning’s Los Angeles Times:

Riddle: What do Charlie McCarthy’s monocle, Sonja Henie’s skate, Jimmy Durante’s nose, Monty Wooley’s beard, Al Jolson’s knees and Marilyn Monroe’s bust have in common?

Answer: Outlines of all are enshrined in cement in the forecourt of Mann’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Blvd.

Historians will record that on Sunday an 83-year-old man knelt before a gooey square and pressed in cigar into it.

“I smoked between 10 and 15 of these a day,” disclosed comedian George Burns. “At my age I’ve got to hold onto something.”

Besides his trademark (which was later replaced by a wooden replica) Burns imprinted in the reddish cement prints of his hands and feet, and signed his name on the date.

Before he showed up, a workman had added a message the entertainer had asked to be included: “Ted-I’m Going In Style.” This was addressed to theatre executive Ted Mann and was a plug for the actor’s upcoming movie of that title.

“I’m going in style, but not for a hell of a long time,” Burns cracked.

His was the 157th square outside the theatre to be glorified with evidence of the famous. The previous one was two years ago by members of the “Star Wars” movie.

It was 52 years ago, when the film house opened, that actress Norma Talmadge stepped out of her limousine on premier night  and accidentally found her spiked heel in some wet cement adjacent to the box office.

Not one to overlook a good thing, owner Sid Grauman promptly had her sign her name in the goo.

“When I started out, I sang ‘The Sidewalks of New York’,” Burns commented Sunday. “Now here I am 76 years later working the sidewalks again.”

Celebrities formerly used chopsticks for their scribbling, but theatre manager Elmer Haines said that  made a rough imprint, so ballpoint pens are used now.

Burns’ square is below that of Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Taylor and adjacent to that of his lifelong friend, Jack Benny…

Mann’s Chinese Theatre is now the TCL Chinese Theatre. The photo below by retired staff photographer Joe Kennedy accompanied Larsen’s article in the Nov. 26, 1979 Los Angeles Times.

Nov. 25, 1979: George Burns makes his mark in cement outside Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood with his celebrated cigar.  Credit: Joe Kennedy/Los Angeles Times.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

Follow Scott Harrison on Twitter and Google+

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