Established in 1958, the Hollywood Walk of Fame is comprised of more than 2,600 five-pointed stars along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and the blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, California. The stars are meant to represent the achievements of celebrities in the entertainment industry and hold the names of entertainers ranging from movie stars to fictional characters. It is maintained by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and has become one of the biggest attractions in Los Angeles. Now, take a behind-the-scenes look at the iconic landmark to learn about its history and lesser-known facts.
The Idea Was First Conceived In 1953
The idea for the Walk of Fame was actually brought up in 1953, a whole seven years before the plan was put into action. The ideator was the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s volunteer president, E.M. Stuart.
He proposed the Walk of Fame as a marketing strategy in order to “maintain the glory of a community whose name means glamour and excitement in the four corners of the world.” However, it wasn’t until January 1956 that a proposal was submitted to the Los Angeles City Council.
There Was A Sneak Peak In 1958
In order to stir up excitement for what city believed would smashing success, in 1958, eight stars were temporarily displayed. These stars belonged to Ronald Colman, Burt Lancaster, Preston Foster, Olive Borden, Louise Fazenda, Joanne Woodward, Edward Sedgwick, and Ernest Torrence.
They were revealed to the public for a short period of time on August 15, 1958. After being lucky enough to see the first eight stars, people got a sense of what was to come.
Muhammad Ali’s Star Is The Only One That Can’t Be Stepped On
In 2002, legendary boxer Muhammad Ali was given a star after it was agreed upon that the sport of boxing was indeed a live performance.
At Ali’s request, his star is the only one that cannot be stepped on and was installed on the wall of the Dolby Theater, which back then was the Kodak Theater. According to the guardian, the reason that Ali made this special request so that his star wouldn’t be stepped on by “people who have no respect for me.”
There Are 16 Fictional Characters On The Walk Of Fame
Although the majority of the stars on the Walk of Fame are real people, there are a few exceptions. There are 16 fictional characters spread across the Walk, with mickey Mouse being the first to be inducted back in 1978.
Other notable characters include The Simpsons, Minnie Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Godzilla, Big Bird, Winnie the Pooh, Shrek, Tinker Bell, and more. These are primary characters that have had a significant effect on pop culture that have become icons over the years.
It’s Not Cheap To Have A Star
Chamber member, radio personality, and television producer Johnny Grant is cited for making a series of changes that helped to improve and establish the Walk of Fame as a significant tourist attraction.
He made it a requirement that stars are present at the unveiling ceremony to help increase press coverage and established a fee that could either be paid by recipient or the person who nominated them to help with the upkeep of the Walk of Fame. In 1980, the fee was $2,500, by 2002 it had reached $15,000, $30,000 in 2012, and $50,000 in 2020.
Construction Was Delayed Due To Lawsuits
Although construction on the Walk of Fame started shortly after the first eight stars were briefly revealed, two lawsuits put a hold on the project. The first was from a series of nearby property owners who had a serious problem with the $1.25 million tax assessment connected with the construction of the Walk, in which the judge ruled against them.
The second was from Charlie Chaplin Jr., who sued for $400,000 in damages after his father wasn’t chosen as an honoree. While the case was dismissed in 1960, Chaplin received a star in 1972.
Anyone Can Nominate A Celebrity
Every year, an average of 200 nominations are submitted to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Walk of Fame selection committee. Anyone, even fans, can nominate anyone that’s active in a field of entertainment. However, the nominee or their manager must approve of the nomination.
Furthermore, nominees must have at least five years of experience in the category they are nominated for, as well as a history of charitable donations. On top of that, posthumous nominees must have been dead for at least five years.
The Process Is Extensive
At an annual meeting in June, the committee gets to work selecting around 20 to 24 celebrities to be honored with a Walk of Fame star, with one of them being posthumous. The nominations of those not selected then are then put in the pool once again for next year’s selection process.
Those who are not selected two years in a row are then dropped and must be re-nominated to be considered again. Living recipients are also required to attend a public ceremony within two years, or a new recipient is selected.
One Of The Initial Ideas Included Caricatures
Before the idea of stars with the celebrity’s names on them came to fruition, there were a few other ideas in the works. Believe it or not, one of the more popular designs was to have caricatures of the celebrities embedded into the sidewalk.
Thankfully, this idea was never made into reality. Not only would it make the construction of the Walk all the more complicated, but it also clashed aesthetically with some of the buildings in development on Hollywood Boulevard at the time.
Stars Have Been Stolen
Unsurprisingly, some people have felt the need to uproot some celebrity’s stars and take it for themselves. In total, four stars have been taken from the Walk. In 2000, Jimmy Stewart and Kirk Douglas’ stars disappeared, although they were later found in a construction worker’s home whose job was to fix one of them.
Then, in 2005, Gregory Peck’s was stolen, and although it was immediately replaced, the original was never found. One of Gene Autry’s numerous stars was also stolen, but he has enough to go around.
There’s A Time Capsule
In order to honor the 50th Anniversary of the Walk of Fame, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce held a ceremony in which a time capsule was buried. The capsule was filled with various items related to the landmark in the year 2010.
Bob Barker, the former host of the game show The Price is Right was there to help bury the capsule under the Walk of Fame. The capsule is scheduled to be opened in 2060, which would be 100 years since its construction.
Hundreds Of Stars Were Temporarily Removed
In 1994, approximately 450 celebrity stars were removed from the Walk of Fame, including Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Walt Disney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Charlie Chaplin, among others. However, they weren’t removed for good, but packed up and put away in storage for three years.
This was the result of the construction of the two new subway stations on Hollywood Boulevard. Keeping them in their place would have been more of a risk than just taking them out for a period of time.
Fixing Damage To The Stars Is The Responsibility Of The City
Regardless if it’s by accident or on purpose, at times, some of the honoree’s stars end up getting damaged or vandalized. While some of these problems only require a minor touch up, that’s not always the case. Because it’s a Los Angeles public sidewalk, the city has “ultimate responsibility for the condition of the Walk of Fame.”
However, the city does get help on some occasions through the “Friends of the Walk of Fame” program, which helps to raise money for maintenance. The Hollywood Historic Trust and the Hollywood Entertainment District also provide financial support.
Some Inductees Don’t Have A Category
The majority of individuals with stars on the Walk of Fame are part of a specified category, indicated by an icon on their star. Yet, that isn’t the case for all of them. For example, former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley has a star.
Other organizations, including the LAPD and the crew members of the Apollo 11 mission, are also honored on the Walk. Some corporations have even managed to receive a star, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers and even the lingerie company Victoria’s Secret.
Typos Have Happened In The Past
In the over 50 years that the Walk of Fame has been around, there have unfortunately been a few spelling errors. One example was when in 2010, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ star read “Julia Luis Dreyfus.”
Yet, instead of complaining, she found humor in it, commenting, “The misspelling was so perfectly apt, a great metaphor for show business. Right when you think you’ve made it, you get knocked down.” The star was then replaced and the misspelled one was gifted to her.
There Were Only Four Initial Categories
When the Walk of Fame was first established, there were initially four categories that someone could be part of which included: Motion Pictures, Television, Recording and Music, and Radio. However, in 1984, Theater/Live Performances were added which made numerous other celebrities potential applicants.
At one point, Kanye West filed a complaint that his wife, Kim Kardashian didn’t have a star. The Chamber replied saying that Kim didn’t qualify to be on the Walk of Fame because there isn’t a category for reality television personalities.
The First Star
Although there were several delays along the way, the construction of the Hollywood Walk of Fame began on February 8, 1960. The first star that was laid in the ground on March 28, 1960, which belonged to Stanley Kramer, a director best known for his “message films.”
Some of his most notable films include The Defiant Ones, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, One the Beach, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World, and Inherit the Wind. He also worked as a producer on High Noon and The Caine Mutiny.
The Stars Aren’t Placed Randomly
Although it may not seem like it, there is a method to the madness when it comes to placing the stars. Many of the most famous celebrities stars can be found in front of the TLC Chinese Theater, whereas Oscar-winners are usually placed near the Dolby Theater, where they won their Academy Awards.
While the Chamber of Commerce usually has the final say, celebrities can suggest their star’s location, such as Carol Burnett, who wanted hers near the theater where she was fired working as an usher.
There Are A Lot Of Families And Shared Stars
Many different members of Hollywood families are scattered along the Walk. Bruce Dern, Diane Ladd, and Laura Dern all received their stars on the same day and were the first three people from one family to have their ceremony at the same time.
The Barrymore family holds the record for the most family members on the walk with six stars belonging to John, Ethel, John Drew, and Drew. In 2004, the twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson became the youngest honored at 18 and share a star. The largest group to share a star belongs to the Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz, which is estimated to be made up of 122 adults and 12 children.
People Have Requested That Stars Be Removed
Although some stars have been removed during construction or because they were stolen or defaced, people have also requested that certain stars be removed. Recently, many people petitioned for Bill Cosby’s star to be taken out after he was found guilty and sent to prison.
However, the Chamber of Commerce declined this notion because it was installed in 1977 before Cosby was found guilty. Other stars such as Joan Crawford, Elvis Presley, and Kevin Spacey have also been requested by the public to be removed.