|TCL Chinese Theatre|
On a bright and sunny Hollywood morning, a crowd gathered at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre courtyard for a very special event. Veteran actor Christopher Plummer’s hand and footprints were to be enshrined forever in cement, a tribute to the lasting legacy of Hollywood and the enduring magic of the movies.
|Jessica, Nora, me and KC!|
|Alex Trebek arrives for the ceremony|
|Shirley MacLaine makes her grand entrance|
|The man of the hour, Christopher Plummer, bearing his signature smile.|
|William Shatner is ready and caffeinated for his speech.|
This event was hosted by the TCL Chinese Theatre and TCM as part of the TCM Classic Film Festival. Robert Osborne usually gives the opening speech at the imprint ceremonies but he was away this year attending to his health. Ben Mankiewicz stepped in and delivered a speech that was dripping with praise for Plummer’s extensive acting career.
|Ben Mankiewicz, who was clearly in awe of all of the special guests.|
|Ben Mankiewicz delivering the opening speech of the event.|
Mankiewicz methodically went through all the highlights of Plummer’s various roles over the years. Plummer’s early start consisted of a high school stage production of Pride and Prejudice, he played Mr. Darcy. Mankiewicz went on to say, “since then, Christopher Plummer has enjoyed more than six decades with theater’s and Hollywood’s most respected actors. He has starred in more than 100 movies. Giving some of the signature performances of the last half century.” Plummer has performed in French and English on stage and on radio in Canada. He went on to do dozens of productions on Broadway in New York City and in London’s West End. For his stage work he’s won two Tony Awards and 7 Tony nominations.
Plummer’s transition to Hollywood began with his movie debut in Sidney Lumet’s Stagestruck (1958). He’s still working today with a couple of films currently in production and Elsa & Fred, co-starring Shirley MacLaine, having been released last year. At this year’s festival we were celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music (1965) as well as two other Plummer films The Man Who Would Be King (1975) and Malcolm X (1992). Oscars would elude Plummer for years until he finally received his first nomination in 2010 for his role in The Last Station (2009). It wasn’t until 2012 that he won for best supporting actor for his performance in Beginners. His acceptance speech is one of the most charming ones I’ve ever watched. I tend to dislike acceptance speeches but this is a big exception and one I can watch over and over again. If you’ve never seen it, take a moment to watch it here:
Mankiewicz mentioned other important people in Plummer’s life including Plummer’s talented daughter Amanda Plummer and special guests William Shatner and Shirley MacLaine. He went on to say, “TCM is awfully proud to be part of this special day as Christopher’s hand and footprints are enshrined in this magnificent Hollywood setting.”
|Shirley MacLaine delivering a heartfelt speech but not forgetting to through in some humor for good measure.|
Up next was actress Shirley MacLaine who happily detailed the long friendship and working career she has shared with Plummer. She peppered her speech with funny anecdotes and jokes. MacLaine credits Plummer with teaching her “how to drink one whole bottle of wine in 15 minutes.” Plummer is supportive of the often quirky MacLaine. He adores her dogs, they regularly have long conversations about deeply personal topics and Plummer has read MacLaine's books and discussed them with her. MacLaine said “he’s really open to the otherness of it all.” She had much praise for Plummer’s one man stage show, A Word or Two, saying “it’s absolutely brilliant that this guy can get up on the stage for two and half hours alone and not miss a beat.” MacLaine’s speech ended with the following:
|Shirley MacLaine speaking to Christopher Plummer from the stage.|
“Except for all the Jacks I’ve worked with, he’s my favorite screen partner. We have talked and shared many many things together and I will always be grateful for knowing you and working with such an extraordinarily intelligent and sometimes funny partner. I’m here not only to honor that you’re putting your hands and your feet I guess in the cement but I’m here to see how the hell you get up."
Up next was actor William Shatner whose speech was short and to the point. It’s theme: Shatner follows Plummer until they both make it big. Here’s the speech (with some edits):
|William Shatner followed in Christopher Plummer's footsteps and now he's here to watch him make footprints in cement.|
“Chris... I followed you into the world of Montreal. You were before me, you’re seven years older than I am... I followed you into Canadian radio, CBC in Montreal. We performed in French and English in radio. I followed you... to the Mountain Playhouse in Montreal. I followed you to Ottawa and the Canadian Repertory Theater. I followed you to Toronto where we performed in Canadian radio and won awards... I followed you to New York. I followed to Los Angeles to Hollywood. That means I would follow you anywhere. I WOULD follow you anywhere. But you have to go first. Thank you.“
|Christopher Plummer at his imprint ceremony|
The man of the hour, Christopher Plummer, delivered a short speech before setting his hand and footprints in cement. He started with some jokes about Shirley MacLaine’s dogs but it quickly turned into a heartfelt and emotional speech. It was clear that Plummer was deeply moved to be honored with this ceremony. As he wiped away a few tears he said,
|Christopher Plummer delivering his speech. What an intoxicating smile that man has.|
“I’m immensely, immensely touched that I am part of this glorious history. To Turner Classic Movies I give my sincerest thanks. Please don’t ever stop bringing us joy and enriching our lives as you do. To the TCL Chinese Theatre my eternal gratitude for this amazing stroke of generosity. You’re all living proof that there can never be a future without a past. And lastly to my new found brothers and sisters in arms. My talented new neighbors through life and through death. And those wonderful artists whose grand achievements are forever carved into memory. I promise I won’t spoil the party. Thank you.”
Could someone please give Christopher Plummer an award for best acceptance and ceremony speeches? Because he deserves one. Plummer’s speech made me realize something. The art of speech, the vocal training, the fine tuned language, the poetry and beauty of it all is slipping away from us. Is this something we need to preserve or is this something that will fall away as our culture evolves and changes?
|Christopher Plummer setting his footprints in cement.|
|Alex Trebek, Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer and William Shatner|
|Christopher Plummer's hand and footprints before the cement hardened.|
Plummer wrote his name in the cement but forgot to put the date. It was Friday March 27th, 2015 but I wonder if future generations will look at the imprints and ponder the date they were made. Or if Plummer’s hand and footprints will be timeless in more ways than one.
|Self-portrait, i.e. proof I was there.|
Thank you so much to TCM for allowing me special access to cover this wonderful event!