Michael Douglas and Kirk Douglas have one, Carlos Santana and Diana Ross have one, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis anyway. Kristen Stewart, Clint Eastwood and Leonardo DiCaprio don’t have one yet. We’re talking about a star on one of the world’s most famous sidewalks, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which stretches on Hollywood Boulevard from La Brea Avenue in the west to Gower Street in the east.
It is one of the most famous attractions in the United States and is estimated to be visited by around ten million people every year. The Walk of Fame in Hollywood has been a Los Angeles urban cultural monument since 1978.
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This is the Hollywood Walk of Fame
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is the home of the Hollywood stars in Los Angeles with which celebrities are honored who once had and often still have great importance for the American entertainment industry. There are names from bygone times, such as the timeless beauty Greta Garbo or Clark Gable, who in his role as Rhett Butler in “Gone with the Wind” and with the famous quote “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” went down in the film history of the world.
There are names of world-famous musicians such as Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, rapper Pitbull and singer Christina Aguilera among the honors and names of numerous actors from the world’s most successful films. There are now over 2,500 stars with well-known and less well-known names from the categories of film, television, music, radio and theater that you can admire as part of a visit to the city. And there is no end in sight.
This is where you’ll find arguably the most famous sidewalk in California and the world
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a popular destination for travelers from all over the world. A walkway that stretches 18 blocks on Hollywood Boulevard from Gower Street in the east to La Brea Avenue in the west. The walkway is three blocks along Vine Street to the northeast and Yucca Street to Sunset Boulevard to the south. A circumference that corresponds to an area of around 2.5 kilometers. So you should plan at least twenty minutes if you want to see the stars of all the artists.
Incidentally, Gower Street is a street that not only marks the eastern end of the Walk of Fame, but also plays an important role in the history of Hollywood. After all, this was where the first Hollywood film studio was located and many more of the original Hollywood film studios were located on or near Gower Street.
The story behind the famous stars
According to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, the idea of creating a sidewalk on which the names of famous stars are immortalized in the form of a star and the celebrities concerned are honored goes back to EM Stuart. However, there are several guesses as to the origin of the stars. The historic Hollywood Hotel, the Dolby Theater and Sugarman’s Restaurant, among others, are cited as early sources of inspiration, as all three houses honored celebrities in the form of stars. Initially, it was considered to provide the stars with a drawing of the respective recipient, but the plan to provide each plaque with a picture was discarded for reasons of cost.
The design of the Walk of Fame as we know it today was finally determined in 1956, with the design of the stars coming from the Southern Californian artist Oliver Weissmuller. Construction on the sidewalk, which would make Hollywood even more attractive to residents and visitors, began on February 8, 1960.
Previously, 1,558 artists were selected by four selection committees to be honored on the planned Walk of Fame. The first eight plaques by selected artists were exhibited at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue in 1958.
It is often said that actress Joanne Woodward was the first to be honored with a star on the Walk of Fame. But that is not the truth. Because the first stars were laid before the official opening as part of the construction work. The first star to find its way onto the famous California sidewalk was that of director Stanley Kramer, which was published on March 28, 1960. The legend surrounding the honor of Joanne Woodward is probably due to the fact that the actress was the first to pose for photographers with her star.
After the first 1,500 records were laid in 1960 and 1961, it took eight full years for more stars to find their way onto the Walk of Fame. After this time, Richard D. Zanuck was not only the first star to be immortalized on the boulevard, but also the first to be honored with a ceremony. At the beginning, many of those honored received several stars in different categories after being nominated. In recent decades, however, increased attention has been paid to honoring stars who have not yet appeared on the Walk of Fame. Only a handful of celebrities were honored with additional stars in any other category. And only Gene Autry has been awarded stars in all five categories so far.
In 1984, the Walk of Fame was expanded to include another series of star plaques and in 1994 it was extended westward along Hollywood Boulevard from Sycamore Avenue to North La Brea Avenue to make room for the stars of further nominations. In this year the 2000th star on the Walk of Fame was awarded and the honor went to the Italian actress Sophia Loren, who is considered one of the last surviving celebrities from the golden era of Hollywood.
This is what the individual panels look like
The stars that can be found on the Walk of Fame are five-pointed stars made of old pink terrazzo that are embedded in black marble. At the top center is the name of the artist or group being honored. Underneath, the brass symbol for the respective category in which the star was awarded is embedded. Not all records have names of real artists or honor people. Cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse and the Simpsons also have a star and dogs like Lassie and Rin Tin Tin have already been honored with a plaque.
There are these categories
The stars on Hollywood Boulevard are divided into five categories. These are the categories of film, television, music, radio and theater. Each of the categories has its own symbol. The stars in the film category carry a film camera, those in the television category carry a television set and those in the music category carry a record. A microphone adorns each plaque in the radio category while twin masks adorn the plates in the theater category.
In addition, there have been plates over the years that deviated from the usual pattern. For example the plaque with which the crew of the Apollo 11 lunar module was honored. Here, instead of the star, a bronze plaque in the shape of a moon was used for the honor. Other stars have special symbols belonging to the honorees instead of the symbols of the respective categories. For example, the Los Angeles Dodgers star bears the baseball team logo. All stars that were awarded in 2010 also have a special emblem to mark the 50th anniversary of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Three stars do not belong in any of the categories mentioned. These are the stars for longtime Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, the award for Disneyland and the plate honoring seven Los Angeles Police Department officers who perished on duty.
All in all, most of the stars were given to artists in the film category.
These criteria must be met in order to be included on the Walk of Fame
Not everyone gets a Hollywood star. Because some criteria must be met before the award can be made. For example, the star must have (been) continuously active in show business for at least five years, living celebrities must be present at the unveiling and the stars must first be proposed by their fans or their own management.
The nomination also follows fixed rules. Each proposal must include a photo and a brief résumé, as well as the name of the sponsor who, if successful, will pay the current fee of $ 40,000 to the Hollywood Historic Trust. With this contribution the star is manufactured and installed. The amount also serves to preserve the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Film studios and producers often act as sponsors, and fans are also allowed to submit proposals for the award with the written consent of management. If a star has already died, a proposal is only possible five years after the death of the respective person.
A secret five-person committee then decides on the applications. The committee’s decision for or against a nomination must be approved by the Los Angeles City Council and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. If a candidate is rejected, they will go through the selection process again the next year. If it is rejected again, a new application is necessary. Currently, 20 to 24 people are selected from around 200 to 300 applications per year. The public ceremony must then take place within five years of nomination in the presence of the person or in the case of fictional characters or deceased stars with the participation of a representative.
Controversial stars on the Walk of Fame
With over 2,000 stars, there are also some that are not undisputed or whose awarding stood in the way of problems. The best known are the stars of US President Donald Trump and none other than the first world star of cinema and one of the most influential comedians in film history, Charlie Chaplin.
Charlie Chaplin’s plaque
Charlie Chaplin is the only award winner to have been selected twice for the same Hollywood star. First he was unanimously elected to the first group of 500 people in 1956, but was ultimately excluded because of his political views, despite the nomination. It was not until 1972, after receiving an Oscar, that his plaque was finally added to the famous pavement in California. But even then and even years later after the end of his life, the Chamber of Commerce received regular letters of protest disapproving of the award to the artist.
Donald Trump’s Hollywood star
Also none other than the incumbent US President Donald Trump was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The star was awarded to Trump in 2007 for his TV shows such as “The Apprentice”, with which he celebrated great successes before his political career. However, the plaque has been deliberately destroyed several times in recent years and had to be restored. The Hollywood star is in a block in front of the Hollywood & Highland Center right next to that of actor Kevin Spacey.
Since 2018, the star has been barred to protect against vandalism, but due to Donald Trump’s statements to women, immigrants and in the area of climate protection, it could become the first plaque on the famous pavement that will be removed again after it has been awarded.