About Hollywood Walk of Fame

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The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a historic monument in Hollywood, California, consisting of almost 2,700 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars buried in the sidewalks of 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street.

Musicians, actors, directors, producers, musical and theatrical ensembles, fictitious characters, and others have their names engraved on the stars, which are permanent public monuments to excellence in the entertainment business.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce manages the Walk of Fame, which is maintained by the self-supporting Hollywood Historic Trust. With an estimated 10 million yearly visits in 2010, it is a popular tourist site. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce owns the Hollywood Walk of Fame trademark.

Origin

E.M. Stuart, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s volunteer president in 1953, is credited with coming up with the concept for a Walk of Fame. According to reports, Stuart suggested the Walk to “keep the prestige of a town whose name symbolizes glitter and excitement at the four corners of the earth.”

Another Chamber member and head of the Hollywood Improvement Association, Harry Sugarman, was given credit in a separate account. To expand out the concept, a committee was created, and an architectural company was hired to generate particular recommendations.

The main idea and overall design were agreed upon by 1955, and the designs were presented to the Los Angeles City Council.

The genesis of the star notion has been attributed to a number of different people. According to one account, the historic Hollywood Hotel—which stood on Hollywood Boulevard for more than 50 years at the location now occupied by the Hollywood and Highland complex and the Dolby (formerly Kodak) Theatre—displayed stars on its dining room ceiling above the tables favored by its most famous celebrity patrons, and this may have served as an early inspiration.

The stars were “inspired… by Sugarman’s Tropics Restaurant’s drinks menu, which included famous pictures framed in gold stars,” according to another source.

A prototype with a caricature of an example honoree (John Wayne, according to some accounts) within a blue star on a brown backdrop was revealed in February 1956.

However, with the technology available at the time, caricatures were too expensive and difficult to execute in brass, 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.

Selection and construction

The final design and coral-and-charcoal color scheme were approved in March 1956. Committees representing the four main divisions of the entertainment business at the time, motion pictures, television, audio recording, and radio, chose 1,558 awardees between the spring of 1956 and the autumn of 1957.

Cecil B. DeMille, Samuel Goldwyn, Jesse L. Lasky, Walt Disney, Hal Roach, Mack Sennett, and Walter Lantz were among the members of the committees, who convened at the Brown Derby restaurant.

The original audio recording committee stated (and subsequently revoked) a minimum sales threshold of one million records or 250,000 albums for all music category contenders.

The group quickly recognized that this condition would exclude out many notable music artists from the Walk. As a consequence, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences was established in order to provide a distinct honor for the music business, which resulted in the inaugural Grammy Awards in 1959.

The Walk’s construction started in 1958, but it was delayed by two lawsuits. Local property owners filed the first complaint, contesting the constitutionality of a $1.25 million tax assessment put on them to fund the Walk, as well as new street lights and trees. The assessment was found lawful in October 1959.

The second case, brought by Charles Chaplin Jr., claimed monetary damages for his father’s exclusion, which had been rescinded owing to pressure from a variety of sources (see Controversial additions). Chaplin’s lawsuit was dismissed in 1960, allowing the project to be completed.

While Joanne Woodward is sometimes cited as the first person to get a star on the Walk of Fame—possibly because she was the first to be pictured with one—the first stars were put as a continuous project with no separate ceremonies. Woodward’s name was chosen at random from the original 1,558 and etched on eight prototype stars made while permanent construction was stalled due to litigation.

In August 1958, the eight prototypes were temporarily put on the northwest corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue to create attention and show how the Walk will ultimately appear.

Olive Borden, Ronald Colman, Louise Fazenda, Preston Foster, Burt Lancaster, Edward Sedgwick, and Ernest Torrence were the other seven names. On February 8, 1960, the official groundbreaking took place.

On March 28, 1960, the first permanent star, director Stanley Kramer’s, was unveiled at the junction of Hollywood and Gower, at the easternmost end of the new Walk.

Stagnation and revitalization

Despite the fact that the Walk was created in part to stimulate rebuilding of Hollywood Boulevard, the 1960s and 1970s saw a period of prolonged urban degradation in the Hollywood neighborhood as inhabitants relocated to adjacent suburbs. Eight years elapsed without a new star being added after the first installation of around 1,500 stars in 1960 and 1961.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce was named “the agent to advise the City” regarding adding names to the Walk by the Los Angeles City Council in 1962, and the Chamber created rules, processes, and funding mechanisms to do so during the next six years.

Richard D. Zanuck received the first star in eight years at a presentation event presented by Danny Thomas in December 1968.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame was declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument by the City of Los Angeles in July 1978.

Johnny Grant, a radio personality, television producer, and Chamber member, is widely recognized for bringing the Walk back to life and establishing it as a major tourist destination.

Grant began asking each winner to physically attend his or her star’s unveiling ceremony in 1968, in order to boost visibility and invite worldwide press attention. “It was challenging to persuade people to come accept a star,” Grant later recounted, “until the area eventually started to revive in the 1980s.”

To support the Walk of Fame’s maintenance and limit additional public cost, he imposed a charge of $2,500 payable by the individual or institution nominating the honoree in 1980.

The charge has gradually escalated over time; by 2002, it had risen to $15,000,[43] and by 2012, it had risen to $30,000. The price will be $50,000 in 2020.

In 1980, Grant received a star for his efforts on television.

In 2002, he was awarded a second star in the “special” category for his contributions to the improvement and popularization of the Walk.

He was also made Honorary Mayor of Hollywood and Chairman of the Selection Committee (a ceremonial position previously held by Art Linkletter and Monty Hall, among others).

From 1980 until his death in 2008, he served in both roles and hosted the vast majority of the unveiling ceremonies. His one-of-a-kind special-category star, with its insignia portraying a stylized “Great Seal of the City of Hollywood,” may be seen at Johnny Grant Way at the entrance to the Dolby Theatre.

Expansion

A fifth category, Live Theatre, was introduced in 1984 to recognize accomplishments made by the live performance sector of the entertainment business, and the second row of stars was put to each sidewalk to alternate with the existing stars.

The Walk of Fame was extended one block west on Hollywood Boulevard in 1994, from Sycamore Avenue to North LaBrea Avenue (plus a small stretch of Marshfield Way connecting Hollywood and La Brea), and now stops at the silver “Four Ladies of Hollywood” gazebo and the distinctive “Walk of Fame” star.

Sophia Loren received the 2,000th star on the Walk at the same time.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) removed and preserved about 300 stars during tunnel construction for the Los Angeles subway system in 1996.

The MTA proposed jackhammering the 3-by-3-foot terrazzo pads, preserving only the brass lettering, surrounds, and medallions, and then pouring new terrazzo after the tunnels were completed, causing controversy; however, the Cultural Heritage Commission ruled that the star pads were to be removed intact.

Restoration

A long-term repair initiative started in 2008 with an assessment of all 2,365 stars on the Walk at the time, with each given an A, B, C, D, or F letter grade. Joan Collins, Peter Frampton, Dick Van Patten, Paul Douglas, Andrew L. Stone, Willard Waterman, Richard Boleslavsky, Ellen Drew, Frank Crumit, and Bobby Sherwood were among the honorees whose stars earned F ratings, signifying the most serious damage. Fifty celebrities’ stars were given a “D.” The damage varied from small visual faults produced by regular weathering to large holes and cracks that posed a threat to pedestrians. At least 778 stars will be repaired or replaced, at a cost of more than $4 million.

The restoration is a collaboration between the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and various Los Angeles city and county government offices, as well as the MTA, which operates the Metro B Line that runs beneath the Walk, and is thought to be partly responsible for the damage due to earth movement caused by the subway line’s presence.

The “Friends of Walk of Fame” program was established to attract further financing for the project from corporate sponsors, with donations honored with honorary plaques next to the Walk of Fame in front of the Dolby Theatre.

The Los Angeles Times’ Alana Semuels characterized the initiative as “simply the latest corporate effort to purchase some nice press,” quoting a brand strategist who remarked, “I believe Johnny Grant would roll over in his grave.”

The City of Los Angeles hired Gensler architects in June 2019 to create a master design for a $4 million restoration to enhance and “upgrade the streetscape idea” for the Walk of Fame, with the purpose of enhancing the public right-of-way.

Nomination process

Each year, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Walk of Fame selection committee receives an average of 200 nominations. Anyone may nominate anyone working in the entertainment industry, including fans, as long as the candidate or their management authorizes the nomination.

Nominees must have at least five years of experience in the field in which they are nominated, as well as a track record of “charitable donations.” Nominees for posthumous awards must have died for at least five years.

The committee chooses roughly 20 to 24 celebrities to earn stars on the Walk of Fame during a meeting held each June. Each year, one posthumous award is granted. Those who are not chosen are rolled over to the next year for review; those who are not chosen two years in a row are dropped and must renominate to be considered again.

Within two years of being chosen, living awardees must agree to physically attend a presenting ceremony. A fresh application must be filed if the ceremony is not planned within two years. Posthumous presents need the attendance of a relative of the dead recipient. The public is welcome to attend the award presentations.

A fee of $50,000 (as of 2020) is collected at the time of selection to cover the cost of the star’s production and installation, as well as regular Walk of Fame upkeep. The nominating entity, which might be a fan club, film studio, record label, broadcaster, or other sponsor affiliated with the potential honoree, normally pays the cost.

For example, as part of the marketing for its series Crash, the Starz cable network paid for Dennis Hopper’s star.

The identity of members of the selection committee, save for the chairman, has traditionally been kept private in order to avoid conflicts of interest and to prevent lobbying by celebrities and their agents (a significant problem during the original selections in the late 1950s). In response to mounting allegations of secrecy in the selection process, the Chamber revealed the names of the members in 1999: Johnny Grant, the longtime chair and representative of the television category; Earl Lestz, president of Paramount Studio Group (motion pictures); Stan Spero, retired manager of 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). Since that 1999 announcement, the chamber has only announced that following Grant’s death in 2008, Lestz (who earned his own star in 2004) became chairman. “Each of the five categories is represented by someone with knowledge in that subject,” their current official stance states.

John Pavlik, the former Director of Communications for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, succeeded Lestz as chairman in 2010.

He was described as chairman in the Chamber’s press release announcing the 2011 star awardees, despite no public declaration to that effect. Maureen Schultz, a film producer, is the current chair, according to the Chamber’s 2016 selection announcement.

Rule adjustments

Although Walk of Fame guidelines restricts contenders whose achievements fall outside of the five main entertainment categories from being considered, the selection committee has been known to bend the criteria to justify a decision. The Apollo 11 astronauts are formally recognized for “contributions to the television industry” at the Walk’s four circular Moon landing monuments at the corners of Hollywood and Vine, for example. In 2005, Johnny Grant said that categorizing the first Moon landing as a television entertainment event was “a stretch.” Magic Johnson was included in the motion picture category due to his ownership of the Magic Johnson Theatre chain, with Sid Grauman, the architect of Grauman’s (now TCL) Chinese Theatre, as a precedent.

The committee ruled that boxing could be deemed a sort of “live performance” and therefore Muhammad Ali’s star was bestowed. Its location on a Dolby Theatre wall makes it the only star mounted on a vertical surface, honoring Ali’s request that his name not be walked on because he shared his name with the Prophet Muhammad.

Since 1968, all live awardees have been expected to attend their star’s presentation, and around 40 have refused the distinction because of this requirement.

To yet, Barbra Streisand is the only recipient who has failed to show after pledging to do so. Regardless, her star was unveiled at the Hollywood and Highland junction. [68] Streisand was there when her husband, James Brolin, was honored with a star two blocks to the east in 1998.

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