If you’ve ever been to the TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Mann’s, originally Grauman’s), you’ve probably walked over the handprints and footprints of Hollywood stars imprinted in the concrete. They’re a big tourist draw — you can see the stars’ signatures and compare your hands with the hands of the people on the big screen.

But the very first one was an accident.

The tradition was born after actress Norma Talmadge accompanied Sid Grauman — the theater magnate who was opening what is now a famous landmark — and other Hollywood stars to the site of the theater in 1927. At the construction site, Talmadge accidentally stepped in wet cement.

"When Grauman saw this, it gave him the idea of creating his own special hall of fame," a Feb. 3, 1958, Times story on a $400,000 renovation of the theater recounted.

That makes the handprint tradition older than the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. That idea came about in the 1950s, with the first star set into the sidewalk in 1960.

Previously on L.A. Times Past:

The rise and fall of the Chinese theater’s dragons

Classic Hollywood on L.A. Times Past

— Laura E. Davis

Photo: Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell put footprints in the cement at the Chinese Theater on June 27, 1953. Credit: Los Angeles Times / UCLA Library.