Hollywood Walk of Fame

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Hollywood Walk of Fame
Several stars on the Walk of Fame at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard, with Street performers and passersby
6801 Hollywood Boulevard
near Dolby Theatre
Established 1958
Location Hollywood Blvd. and Vine St.
Hollywood, Los Angeles
Type Entertainment hall of fame
Visitors 10 million annually
Public transit access LAMetroLogo.svg Hollywood/Vine
Website Official website
Designated: July 5, 1978
Reference No. 194

The Hollywood Walk of Fame comprises more than 2,500 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the sidewalks along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, California. The stars are permanent public monuments to achievement in the entertainment industry, bearing the names of a mix of actors, musicians, directors, producers, musical and theatrical groups, fictional characters, and others. The Walk of Fame is administered by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and maintained by the self-financing Hollywood Historic Trust. It is a popular tourist destination, with a reported 10 million visitors in 2003.

Description[edit]

A typical Walk of Fame star in the phonograph record category. The charcoal terrazzo contrasts with the pink terrazzo star and brass surround, emblem and lettering.

The Walk of Fame runs 1.3 miles (2.1 km) east to west on Hollywood Boulevard from North Gower Street to North La Brea Avenue, plus a short segment of Marshfield Way that runs diagonally between Hollywood and La Brea; and 0.4 miles (0.7 km) north to south on Vine Street between Yucca Street and Sunset Boulevard.

According to a 2003 report by the market research firm NPO Plog Research, the Walk attracts about 10 million visitors annually—more than Sunset Strip, TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman's), the Queen Mary, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art—and has played an important role in making tourism the largest industry in Los Angeles County.[1]

As of March 6, 2014, the Walk comprises 2,518 stars,[2] spaced at 6-foot (1.8 m) intervals. The monuments are coral-pink terrazzo five-point stars rimmed with brass (not bronze, an oft-repeated inaccuracy[3]) inlaid into a charcoal-colored terrazzo background. In the upper portion of each star field the name of the honoree is inlaid in brass block letters. Below the inscription, in the lower half of the star field, a round inlaid brass emblem indicates the category of the honoree's contributions. The emblems symbolize five categories within the entertainment industry:

Circular 4-inch brass plaque showing a side view of a classic movie camera Classic film camera representing motion pictures
Circular 4-inch brass plaque with a tube-type television with twin aerials Television receiver representing broadcast television
Circular 4-inch brass plaque with a top view of phonograph disc and pickup arm Phonograph record representing audio recording or music
Circular 4-inch brass plaque with an antique studio-style microphone Radio microphone representing broadcast radio
Circular 4-inch brass plaque with the classic theatrical comedy/tragedy masks Comedy/tragedy masks representing theatre/live performance (added in 1984)

Of all the stars on the Walk to date, 47% have been awarded in the motion pictures category, 24% in television, 17% in audio recording, 10% in radio, and less than 2% in the live performance category. Approximately 20 new stars are added to the Walk each year.[3]

Special stars[edit]

Special category stars recognize various contributions by corporate entities, service organizations, and special honorees, and display emblems unique to those honorees.[4] For example, former Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley's star displays the Seal of the City of Los Angeles;[5][6] the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) star emblem is a replica of a Hollywood Division badge;[7] and stars representing corporations, such as Victoria's Secret and the Los Angeles Dodgers, display the honoree's corporate logo.[4][8] The "Friends of the Walk of Fame" monuments are charcoal terrazzo squares rimmed by miniature pink terrazzo stars displaying the five standard category emblems, along with the sponsor's corporate logo, with the sponsor's name and contribution in inlaid brass block lettering.[9][10] Special stars and Friends monuments are granted by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce or the Hollywood Historic Trust, but are not part of the Walk of Fame proper and are located nearby on private property.[9][11]

The monuments for the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon are uniquely shaped: Four identical circular moons, bearing the names of the three astronauts (Neil A. Armstrong, Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., Michael Collins) the date of the first Moon landing ("7/20/69"), and the words "Apollo XI", are set on each of the four corners of the intersection of Hollywood and Vine. The moons are silver and grey terrazzo circles rimmed in brass on a square pink terrazzo background, with the television emblem inlaid at the top of each circle.[12]

History[edit]

Origin[edit]

The Walk of Fame at the 6800 block of Hollywood Boulevard, looking eastward. The Dolby Theatre is in the foreground at left. In the upper left quadrant is the famous intersection of Hollywood and Highland.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce credits E. M. Stuart, its volunteer president in 1953, with the original idea for creating a Walk of Fame. Stuart reportedly proposed the Walk as a means to "maintain the glory of a community whose name means glamour and excitement in the four corners of the world."[13] Harry Sugarman, another Chamber member and president of the Hollywood Improvement Association, receives credit in an independent account.[14] A committee was formed to flesh out the idea, and an architectural firm was retained to develop specific proposals. By 1955 the basic concept and general design had been agreed upon, and plans were submitted to the Los Angeles City Council.

Multiple accounts exist for the origin of the star concept. According to one, the historic Hollywood Hotel — which stood for more than 50 years on Hollywood Boulevard at the site now occupied by the Hollywood and Highland complex and the Dolby (formerly Kodak) Theatre[15] — displayed stars on its dining room ceiling above the tables favored by its most famous celebrity patrons, and that may have served as an early inspiration.[16] By another account the stars were "inspired ... by Sugarman's [Tropics Restaurant] drinks menu, which featured celebrity photos framed in gold stars."[14][17]

In February 1956 a prototype was unveiled featuring a caricature of an example honoree (John Wayne, by some accounts[18]) inside a blue star on a brown background.[13] However, caricatures proved too expensive and difficult to execute in brass with the technology available at the time; and the brown and blue motif was vetoed by Charles E. Toberman, the legendary real estate developer known as "Mr. Hollywood", because the colors clashed with a new building he was erecting on Hollywood Boulevard.[13][19]

Selection and construction[edit]

By March 1956 the final design and coral-and-charcoal color scheme had been approved, and between the spring of 1956 and the fall of 1957, 1,558 honorees were selected by committees representing the four major branches of the entertainment industry at that time: motion pictures, television, audio recording, and radio. The committees met at the Brown Derby restaurant,[20] and included such prominent names as Cecil B. DeMille, Samuel Goldwyn, Jesse L. Lasky, Walt Disney, Hal Roach, Mack Sennett, and Walter Lantz.[13]

A requirement stipulated by the original audio recording committee (and later rescinded) specified minimum sales of one million records or 250,000 albums for all music category nominees. The committee soon realized that many important recording artists would be excluded from the Walk by that requirement. As a result, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences was formed for the purpose of creating a separate award system for the music business. The first Grammy Awards were presented in Beverly Hills in 1959.[21]

Joanne Woodward's star, contrary to popular belief, was not the first.

Construction of the Walk began in 1958 but two lawsuits delayed completion. The first was filed by local property owners challenging the legality of the $1.25 million tax assessment levied upon them to pay for the Walk, along with new street lighting and trees. In October 1959 the assessment was ruled legal.[13] The second lawsuit, filed by Charles Chaplin, Jr., sought damages for the exclusion of his father, whose nomination had been withdrawn due to pressure from multiple quarters (see Controversial additions). Chaplin's suit was dismissed in 1960 paving the way for completion of the project.[13][22][23]

While Joanne Woodward is often singled out as the first to receive a star on the Walk of Fame,[24] in fact there was no "first" recipient; the original stars were installed as a continuous project, with no individual ceremonies. Woodward's name was one of eight drawn at random from the original 1,558 and inscribed on eight "display" stars that were built while litigation was still holding up permanent construction.[25][26][27] They were installed temporarily on the northwest corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue in August 1958 to generate publicity and demonstrate how the Walk would eventually look.[13] The other seven names were Olive Borden, Ronald Colman, Louise Fazenda, Preston Foster, Burt Lancaster, Edward Sedgwick, and Ernest Torrence.[13][28] Official groundbreaking took place on February 8, 1960.[16] On March 28, 1960, the first permanent star, director Stanley Kramer's, was completed on the easternmost end of the new Walk near the intersection of Hollywood and Gower.[13][29] The Joanne Woodward legend may have originated, according to one source, because she was the first to pose with her star for photographers.[24]

Stagnation and revitalization[edit]

Johnny Grant, center, at producer Joe Pasternak's presentation ceremony in 1991. At left is Gene Kelly.

Though the Walk was originally conceived in part to encourage redevelopment of Hollywood Boulevard, the 1960s and 1970s were periods of protracted urban decay in the Hollywood area as residents moved to suburbs.[30][31] From the initial installation of more than 1,500 stars in 1960–1961, eight years passed without the addition of a new star. In 1962 the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance naming the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce "the agent to advise the City" about adding names to the Walk, and the Chamber, over the following six years, devised rules, procedures, and financing methods to do so.[13] In December 1968 Richard D. Zanuck was awarded the first star in eight years in a presentation ceremony hosted by Danny Thomas.[13][20][32] In July 1978 the City of Los Angeles designated the Hollywood Walk of Fame a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.[33]

Radio personality, television producer, honorary mayor of Hollywood, and Chamber member Johnny Grant (1923–2008)[34] is generally credited with implementing the changes that resuscitated the Walk and established it as a significant tourist attraction.[20] Beginning in 1968 he stimulated publicity and encouraged international press coverage by requiring that each recipient personally attend his or her star's unveiling ceremony.[20] Grant later recalled that "it was tough to get people to come accept a star on the Walk of Fame" until the neighborhood finally began its recovery in the 1980s.[31] In 1980 he instituted a fee of $2,500, payable by the person or entity nominating the recipient, to fund the Walk of Fame's upkeep and minimize further taxpayer burden.[20] The fee has increased incrementally over time; by 2002 it had reached $15,000,[35] and stood at $30,000 as of 2012.[3]

Grant was awarded a star in 1980 for his television work,[13] and in 2002 he received a second star in the "special" category to acknowledge his pivotal role in improving and popularizing the Walk.[36] He was also named chairman of the Selection Committee and Honorary Mayor of Hollywood (a ceremonial position previously held by Art Linkletter and Monty Hall,[37][38] among others).[13][36] He remained in both offices from 1980 until his death in 2008 and hosted the great majority of unveiling ceremonies during that period. His unique special-category star, with its emblem depicting a stylized "Great Seal of the City of Hollywood",[39] is located at the entrance to the Dolby Theatre adjacent to Johnny Grant Way.[40]

Expansion[edit]

In 1984 a fifth category, Live Theatre, was added to permit acknowledgement of contributions from the live performance branch of the entertainment industry, and a second row of stars was created on each sidewalk to alternate with the existing stars.[13]

Hollywood Boulevard, 7000 block, north side, looking westward.

In 1994 the Walk of Fame was extended one block to the west on Hollywood Boulevard, from Sycamore Avenue to North LaBrea Avenue (plus the short segment of Marshfield Way that connects Hollywood and La Brea), where it now ends at the silver "Four Ladies of Hollywood" gazebo and the special "Walk of Fame" star.[41] At the same time Sophia Loren was honored with the 2,000th star on the Walk.[13]

During construction of tunnels for the Los Angeles subway system in 1996 the Metropolitan Transportation Authority removed and stored more than 300 stars.[42] Controversy arose when the MTA proposed a money-saving measure of jackhammering the 3-by-3 foot terrazzo pads, preserving only the brass lettering, surrounds and medallions, then pouring new terrazzo after the tunnels were completed;[43] but the Cultural Heritage Commission ruled that the star pads were to be removed intact.[44]

Restoration[edit]

In 2008 a long-term restoration project began with an evaluation of all 2,365 stars on the Walk at the time, each receiving a letter grade of A, B, C, D, or F. Honorees whose stars received F grades, indicating the most severe damage, were Joan Collins, Peter Frampton, Dick Van Patten, Paul Douglas, Andrew L. Stone, Willard Waterman, Richard Boleslavsky, Ellen Drew, Frank Crumit, and Bobby Sherwood. Fifty celebrities' stars received "D" grades. The damage ranged from minor cosmetic flaws caused by normal weathering to holes and fissures severe enough to constitute a walking hazard. At least 778 stars will eventually be repaired or replaced during the ongoing project at an estimated cost of $4 million to $4.2 million.[45]

The restoration is a collaboration among the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and various Los Angeles city and county governmental offices, along with the MTA, which operates the Metro Red Line that runs beneath the Walk, since earth movement due to the presence of the subway line is thought to be partly responsible for the damage.[46]

To encourage supplemental funding for the project by corporate sponsors, the "Friends of Walk of Fame" program was inaugurated.[45] Absolut Vodka became the first Friend with a donation of $1 million,[47][48] followed by L'Oréal.[49] Friends are recognized with honorary plaques adjacent to the Walk of Fame in front of the Dolby Theatre.[9] The program received some criticism. Alana Semuels of the Los Angeles Times described it as "just the latest corporate attempt to buy some good buzz," and, quoting an area brand strategist, "I think Johnny Grant would roll over in his grave ..."[9] Karen Fondu, President of L'Oréal Paris, countered that the association was "...a natural affinity".[48]

The Walk today[edit]

Honorees with multiple stars[edit]

The original selection committees chose to recognize some entertainers' contributions in multiple categories with multiple stars. Gene Autry is the only honoree with stars in all five categories.[50][51] Bob Hope, Mickey Rooney, Roy Rogers, and Tony Martin each have stars in four categories—Rooney has three of his own and a fourth with his eighth and final wife, Jan,[52][53] while Rogers also has three of his own, and a fourth with his band, The Sons of the Pioneers.[54][55] Thirty-three people, including Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Dinah Shore, Gale Storm, Danny Kaye, and Jack Benny, have stars in three categories.[50]

Seven recording artists have two stars in the same category for distinct achievements: Michael Jackson, as a soloist and as a member of The Jackson 5; Diana Ross, as a member of The Supremes and for her solo work; Smokey Robinson, as a solo artist and as a member of The Miracles; and John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney as individuals and as members of The Beatles.[56] Cher forfeited her opportunity by declining to schedule the mandatory personal appearance when she was selected in 1983.[25] She did attend the unveiling of the Sonny & Cher star in 1998 as a tribute to her recently deceased ex-husband, Sonny Bono.[57]

The only two fictional characters to have two stars are Kermit the Frog and Big Bird, each with an individual star and one with The Muppets.

George Eastman is the only honoree with two stars in the same category for the same achievement, the invention of roll film.[58]

Controversial additions[edit]

Photograph of Charlie Chaplin's star on the Walk of Fame
Selected 1956, installed 1972.

Charlie Chaplin is the only honoree to be selected twice for the same star on the Walk. He was unanimously voted into the initial group of 500 in 1956 but the Selection Committee ultimately excluded him, ostensibly due to questions regarding his morals (he had been charged with violating the Mann Act—and exonerated—during the White Slavery hysteria of the 1940s) but more likely due to his left-leaning political views.[59] The rebuke prompted an unsuccessful lawsuit by his son, Charles Chaplin, Jr. His star was finally added to the Walk in 1972, the same year he received his Academy Award;[23] but even then, 16 years later, the Chamber of Commerce received angry letters from across the country protesting its decision to include him.[60]

In 1978 the committee, perhaps recalling its Chaplin difficulties, voted against awarding a star to the brilliant but controversial opera singer, actor, athlete, writer, lawyer, and social activist Paul Robeson. The outcry from the entertainment industry, civic circles, local and national politicians, and many other quarters was so intense that the decision was reversed almost immediately.[61][62][63]

Names in common[edit]

Two pairs of stars share identical names representing different people. There are two Harrison Ford stars, honoring the silent film actor (at 6665 Hollywood Boulevard), and the present-day actor (in front of the Dolby Theatre at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard). Two Michael Jackson stars represent the singer/dancer/songwriter (at 6927 Hollywood Boulevard), and the radio personality (at 1597 Vine Street). When the singer/songwriter Jackson died in 2009 fans mistakenly began leaving flowers, candles, and other tributes at the Vine Street star. Upon learning of this, the radio host Jackson wrote on his web site, "I am willingly loan[ing] it to him and, if it would bring him back, he can have it."[64]

Twelve Joneses have stars, but only seven Smiths. There are 14 Moores, but the most common surname is Williams: Andy Williams, Bill Williams, Billy Dee Williams, Cindy Williams, Earle Williams, Esther Williams, Guy Williams, Hank Williams, Joe Williams, Kathlyn Williams, Paul Williams, Robin Williams, Roger Williams, Tex Williams and Vanessa Williams.[65]

The largest collection of stars honoring one group of blood relatives is the widely scattered set of seven representing the Barrymore family: John Barrymore, his brother Lionel (who has two), and sister Ethel, their uncle Sidney Drew, John's son John Drew Barrymore, and John Drew's daughter Drew Barrymore.

Bending the rules[edit]

Moon Landing monument, with square pink terrazzo surround (not the usual charcoal color), with light gray terrazzo Moon disk showing TV emblem at top and the brass lettering "Neil A. Armstrong, Edwin E. Aldrin and Michael Collins, 7/20/69, Apollo XI"
One of the four monuments recognizing the Apollo 11 astronauts at the corners of Hollywood and Vine.

Walk of Fame rules prohibit consideration of nominees whose contributions fall outside the five major entertainment categories, but the selection committee has been known to conjure some interesting rule interpretations to justify a selection. The Walk's four round Moon landing monuments at the corners of Hollywood and Vine, for example, officially recognize the Apollo 11 astronauts for "contributions to the television industry". Johnny Grant acknowledged, in 2005, that classifying the first Moon landing as a television entertainment event was "a bit of a stretch". Magic Johnson's considerable basketball skills had no direct connection to movies, music, TV, radio, or theater, but the committee added him to the motion picture category, based on his ownership of the Magic Johnson Theatre chain, citing as precedent Sid Grauman, builder of Grauman's (now TCL) Chinese Theatre.[24] "[Now] people want Orville Redenbacher," Grant quipped in the 2005 interview, "because his popcorn is in all the theaters."[24]

Muhammad Ali's star was granted after the committee decided that boxing could be considered a form of "live performance". His star is the first (and so far only) one to be installed on a vertical surface. It is displayed on a wall of the Dolby Theatre, acceding to Ali's request that his name not be walked upon.[66][67]

Since 1968 all living honorees have been required to be present at their star's unveiling, and approximately 40 have declined the honor due to this condition.[24] The only recipient to date who has failed to appear after agreeing to do so was Barbra Streisand, in 1976. Her star was unveiled anyway, near the intersection of Hollywood and Highland.[68] Streisand did attend when her husband, James Brolin, unveiled his star in 1998 two blocks to the east.[69]

Unique and unusual[edit]

Twelve stars are identified with a one-word stage name. The most novel is Parkyakarkus, the principal pseudonym of Harry Einstein, the comedian and radio personality (and father of Albert Brooks and Bob Einstein). The other eleven are Cantinflas, Houdini, Liberace, Mako, Meiklejohn, Paderewski, Roseanne, Sabu, Shakira, Slash, Sting, and Thalía.

The largest group of individuals represented by a single star is the estimated 122 adults and 12 children[70] collectively known as the Munchkins, from the landmark 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.

Clayton Moore is so inextricably linked with his Lone Ranger character, even though he played other roles during his career, that he is one of only two actors to have his character's name alongside his own on his star. The other is Tommy Riggs, whose star reads, "Tommy Riggs & Betty Lou."[71]

For more than 40 years, singer Jimmy Boyd was the youngest star recipient at age 20, but he lost that distinction in 2004 to 18-year-old twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Their joint star (the only one shared by twins) is outside the Dolby Theatre, near the Hollywood and Highland Center.

The Westmores received the first star honoring contributions in theatrical make-up. Other make-up artists on the walk are Max Factor and John Chambers. Three stars recognize experts in special effects: Ray Harryhausen, Dennis Muren, and Stan Winston. Only one costume designer has received a star, eight-time Academy Award winner Edith Head.

Sidney Sheldon is one of two novelists with a star, which he earned for writing screenplays such as The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer before turning to novels.[72] The other is Ray Bradbury, whose books and stories have formed the basis of dozens of movies and television programs over a nearly 60-year period.[73]

Nine inventors have stars on the Walk: George Eastman (as mentioned); Thomas Edison, inventor of the first true film projector and holder of numerous patents related to motion-picture technology; Lee De Forest, inventor of the vacuum tube, which made radio and TV possible, and Phonofilm, which made sound movies possible; Merian C. Cooper, co-inventor of the Cinerama process; Herbert Kalmus, inventor of Technicolor; Auguste and Louis Lumière, inventors of important components of the motion picture camera; Mark Serrurier, inventor of the technology used for film editing; and Hedy Lamarr, co-inventor of a frequency-hopping radio guidance system that was a precursor to Wi-Fi networks and cellular telephone systems.[74]

Ronald Reagan is the only President of the United States to have a star, and one of two Governors of California (the other is Arnold Schwarzenegger).[75] There is one U.S. senator (George Murphy) on the Walk, and two members of the U.S. House of Representatives (Helen Gahagan and Sonny Bono). Ignacy Paderewski is the only European head of government with a star. (He served as Prime Minister of Poland between the World Wars.)

Fictional characters and their creators[edit]

closeup of Mickey Mouse star, showing title and Motion Picture emblem
Mickey Mouse's star was the first awarded to an animated character

In 1978 in honor of his 50th anniversary, Mickey Mouse became the first animated character to receive a star. Other animated recipients are Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, Woody Woodpecker, Snow White, Tinker Bell, Winnie-the-Pooh, Shrek, The Simpsons, and the Rugrats. The star inscribed Charlie Tuna honors not the animated advertising mascot, but the long-time radio personality, Art Ferguson.

Other fictional characters on the Walk include the Munchkins (as mentioned), two individual Muppets (Kermit the Frog and Big Bird) and the Muppets as a group, one monster (Godzilla), and three non-animated canine characters (Strongheart, Lassie, and Rin Tin Tin).

Ten stars recognize cartoonists and animators: Walt Disney, Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Walter Lantz, Hanna-Barbera, Charles M. Schulz, Jay Ward, Dr. Seuss, Matt Groening and John Lasseter.[76] Two puppeteers have stars: Jim Henson and Shari Lewis, as does Fran Allison, who appeared with Burr Tillstrom's puppets in the TV show Kukla, Fran, and Ollie.

Star locations[edit]

Locations of individual stars are not necessarily random or arbitrary. Stars of most legendary and world-famous celebrities—the so-called "show business royalty"—are found in front of TCL (formerly Grauman's) Chinese Theatre. Oscar winners' stars are usually placed near the Dolby Theatre, site of the annual Academy Awards presentations. Decisions are occasionally made with a dollop of whimsy: Mike Myers's star, for example, lies in front of an adult store called the International Love Boutique, an association with his Austin Powers roles; Roger Moore's star is located at 7007 Hollywood Boulevard in recognition of his seven James Bond films; Ed O'Neill's star is located outside a shoe store in reference to his character's occupation on the TV show Married...with Children;[77] and the last star, at the very end of the westernmost portion of the Walk, belongs to The Dead End Kids. Honorees are typically given input into choice of location, although final decisions remain with the Chamber.[24]

Actor/comedienne Carol Burnett explained her very specific location choice in her 1986 memoir: While working as an usherette at the historic Warner Brothers Theatre (now the Hollywood Pacific Theatre) during the 1951 run of Alfred Hitchcock's film Strangers on a Train, she took it upon herself to advise a couple arriving during the final few minutes of a showing to wait for the next showing, to avoid seeing (and spoiling) the ending. The theatre manager fired her on the spot for "insubordination" and humiliated her by stripping the epaulets from her uniform in the theatre lobby. In 1977 when she was awarded a star, the Chamber asked if she had a preference for its placement. "Right in front of where the old Warner Brothers Theatre was," she replied, "at Hollywood and Wilcox." And there, she added, is exactly where you will find it.[78]

The Four Ladies[edit]

The Four Ladies of Hollywood gazebo at the western border of the Walk of Fame.

The Four Ladies of Hollywood gazebo[79]—known officially as the Hollywood and La Brea Gateway[80]—stands upon a small triangular island formed by the confluence of Hollywood Boulevard, Marshfield Way, and North La Brea Avenue at the westernmost extension of the Walk of Fame. It was commissioned in 1993 by the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency Art Program and created by the architect, production designer, and film director Catherine Hardwicke as a tribute to the multi-ethnic women of Hollywood.[80] The gazebo is a stainless steel stylized Art Deco lattice structure. The roof is an arched square supporting a circular dome, which is topped by a central obelisk with descending neon block letters spelling "HOLLYWOOD" on each of its four sides. Atop the obelisk is a small gilded weathervane-style sculpture of Marilyn Monroe in her iconic billowing skirt pose from The Seven Year Itch.[81] The domed structure is held aloft by four caryatids sculpted by Harl West[80] to represent the African-American actress Dorothy Dandridge, Asian-American actress Anna May Wong, Mexican actress Dolores del Río, and the multi-ethnic, Brooklyn-born actress Mae West.[79]

The gazebo was dedicated on February 1, 1994, to a mixed reception. Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight called it "the most depressingly awful work of public art in recent years," representing the opposite of Hardwicke's intended tribute to women. "Sex, as a woman's historic gateway to Hollywood," he wrote, "couldn't be more explicitly described."[82] Independent writer and film producer Gail Choice called it a fitting tribute to a group of pioneering, courageous women who "...carried a tremendous burden on their feminine shoulders. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe I'd ever see women of color immortalized in such a creative and wonderful fashion."[83] Hardwicke contended that critics had missed the "humor and symbolism" of the structure, which "embraces and pokes fun at the glamour, the polished metallic male form of the Oscar, and the pastiche of styles and dreams that pervades Tinseltown."[84]

Theft and vandalism[edit]

Actor Matt Damon's star under construction, showing the brass star-shaped rim, exposed wire grid foundation, brass letters attached to two horizontal brackets, and the Motion Picture emblem, prior to pouring of pink terrazzo
Actor Matt Damon's star under construction, August 2007.

Four of the stars, which weigh about 300 pounds (136 kg) each, have been stolen from the Walk of Fame. In 2000 James Stewart's and Kirk Douglas's stars disappeared from their locations near the intersection of Hollywood and Vine, where they had been temporarily removed for a construction project. Police recovered them in the suburban community of South Gate when they arrested a man involved in an incident there and searched his house. The suspect was a construction worker employed on the Hollywood and Vine project. The stars had been badly damaged, and had to be remade. One of Gene Autry's five stars (it is not clear which one) was also stolen from a construction area. Johnny Grant later received an anonymous phone tip that the missing star was in Iowa, but it was never found. "Someday, it will end up on eBay," Grant once joked. The most brazen and ambitious theft occurred in 2005 when thieves used a concrete saw to remove Gregory Peck's star from its Hollywood Boulevard site at the intersection of North El Centro Avenue, near North Gower. The star was replaced almost immediately, but the original was never recovered and the perpetrators never caught.[85]

In late 2009 rumors circulated widely on media outlets and the Internet that John Lennon's star had been stolen, but it was merely being relocated farther south on Vine Street to an area near the circular Capitol Records Building, adjacent to the stars of bandmates George Harrison and Ringo Starr.[86] Paul McCartney's star was installed in the same location in 2012.[87]

Random acts of vandalism occur on the Walk on a regular basis, ranging from profanity and political statements written on stars with markers to attempted removal of brass emblems with chisels.[88] Closed circuit surveillance cameras have been installed on the stretch of Hollywood Boulevard between La Brea Avenue and Vine Street in an effort to discourage mischievous activities.[89]

Errors and mysteries[edit]

In 2010 Julia Louis-Dreyfus's star was constructed with the name "Julia Luis Dreyfus".[90] The actress was reportedly amused, and the error was corrected.[91] A similar mistake was made on Dick Van Dyke's star in 1993 ("Vandyke"), and rectified.[92]

Monty Woolley's star, showing a "TV" emblem, even though his category is "Motion Pictures"
"Motion Picture" category, "TV" emblem

Film and television actor Don Haggerty's star originally displayed the first name "Dan". The mistake was fixed, but years later the television actor Dan Haggerty (of Grizzly Adams fame, no relation to Don) also received a star. The confusion eventually sprouted an urban legend that Dan Haggerty was the only honoree to have a star removed from the Walk of Fame.[93][94]

For 28 years the star intended to honor Mauritz Stiller, the Helsinki-born pioneer of Swedish film who brought Greta Garbo to America, read "Maurice Diller", possibly due to mis-transcription of verbal dictation. The star was finally remade with the correct name in 1988.[95][96]

Two stars remain misspelled: Opera diva Lotte Lehmann's first name is spelled "Lottie";[97] and Cinerama co-inventor and King Kong creator, director, and producer Merian C. Cooper's first name is spelled "Meriam".[98][99]

Monty Woolley, the veteran film and stage actor best known for The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942) and the classic line "Time flies when you're having fun", is officially listed in the motion picture category,[100] but his star on the Walk of Fame bears the television emblem.[101] Woolley appeared on the small screen late in his career, but his TV contributions were eclipsed by his extensive stage, film, and radio work.[102][103][104] The star of film actress Carmen Miranda bears the TV emblem,[105] although her official category is motion pictures.[106] Radio and television talk show host Larry King is officially a television honoree,[107] but his star displays a film camera.[108]

The Los Angeles Times, which documented and photographed the Walk as part of its Hollywood Star Walk project, reports that it has not located stars honoring Richard Crooks and the film career of Geraldine Farrar.[109][110][111] (Farrar's music star is located on the 1700 block of Vine Street.)

Homage[edit]

Recording artist Michael Jackson's Star, surrounded by flowers, candles, and cards, about two weeks after his death in 2009
Michael Jackson's star, about two weeks after his death in 2009.

Some fans show respect for star recipients both living and dead by laying flowers or other symbolic tributes at their stars.[112] Others show their support in other ways; the star awarded to Julio Iglesias, for example, is kept in "pristine condition [by] a devoted band of elderly women [who] scrub and polish it once a month".[112]

A tradition of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce is placement of flowers at the star of a fallen awardee upon news of his or her death; for example Bette Davis in 1989,[113] Katharine Hepburn in 2003, and Jackie Cooper in 2011.[114] The stars along the Walk have also become impromptu grieving, memorial and vigil sites, and some continue to receive anniversary remembrances. News of the death of Elizabeth Taylor in 2011 resulted in a mass of flowers and cards at her star.[115] When recording artist Michael Jackson died in 2009 flowers and vigil keepers appeared at both his and radio commentator Michael Jackson's stars.[64][116] Masses of flowers have also been received at stars honoring Richard Pryor,[117] Ricardo Montalbán, James Doohan, Frank Sinatra,[118][119] and George Harrison.[120]

Nomination process[edit]

Director James Cameron squats by his new star, left hand propping up his plaque
Director James Cameron unveiling his star, December 2009

Each year an average of 200 nominations are submitted to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Walk of Fame Selection Committee. Anyone, including fans, can nominate anyone active in the field of entertainment as long as the nominee or his or her management approves the nomination (a letter of agreement from the nominated celebrity or representative must accompany the application). Nominees must have a minimum of five years' experience in the category for which they are nominated and a history of "charitable contributions".[66] Posthumous nominees must have been deceased at least five years. At a meeting each June, the committee selects approximately 20 celebrities to receive stars on the Walk of Fame during the following year. One posthumous award is given each year as well. The nominations of those not selected are rolled over to the following year for reconsideration; those not selected two years in a row are dropped, and must be renominated to receive further consideration. Living recipients must agree to personally attend a presentation ceremony within five years of selection. A relative of deceased recipients must attend posthumous presentations. Presentation ceremonies are open to the public.[3]

A fee ($30,000 as of 2012),[3] payable at time of selection, is collected to pay for the creation and installation of the star, as well as general maintenance of the Walk of Fame. The fee is usually paid by the nominating organization, which may be a fan club, or a film studio, record company, broadcaster, or other sponsor involved with the prospective honoree.[20][121] The Starz cable network, for example, paid for Dennis Hopper's star as part of the promotion for its series Crash. It was unveiled in March 2010 shortly before Hopper's death.[20][122]

Opera singer Andrea Bocelli holds his plaque with both hands at his 2010 presentation ceremony
Andrea Bocelli at his 2010 presentation ceremony

Numerous major entertainment figures and legendary show business acts are not included on the Walk of Fame for a variety of reasons. Some, such as Julia Roberts[24][123] and Clint Eastwood,[123] have declined to participate; nominations cannot proceed without the nominee's consent. Others, such as George Clooney[124] and John Denver,[25] were nominated but would not agree to the mandatory personal appearance at the unveiling ceremony. Others have simply never been nominated, or do not have a nominator willing or able to pay the selection fee, or have less than the required five years' minimum involvement in their designated field. Others are merely victims of selection constraints and probability; only about 10% of nominees are selected each year.

Traditionally, the identities of selection committee members, other than its chairman, have not been made public in order to minimize conflicts of interest and to discourage lobbying by celebrities and their representatives (a significant problem during the original selections in the late 1950s). However, in 1999, in response to intensifying charges of secrecy in the selection process, the Chamber disclosed the members' names: Johnny Grant, the longtime chair and representative of the television category; Earl Lestz, president of Paramount Studio Group (motion pictures); Stan Spero, retired manager with broadcast stations KMPC and KABC (radio); Kate Nelson, owner of the Palace Theatre (live performance); and Mary Lou Dudas, vice president of A&M Records (recording industry).[125] Since that 1999 announcement the Chamber has revealed only that Lestz (who received his own star in 2004) became chairman after Grant died in 2008. Their current official position is that "each of the five categories is represented by someone with expertise in that field".[3]

As of June 2010 Lestz had been replaced as chairman by John Pavlik, former Director of Communications for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[126] While no public announcement was made to that effect, he was identified as chairman in the Chamber's press release announcing the 2011 star recipients.[127]

See also[edit]

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External links[edit]