The Walk of Fame

If Hollywood is the place where the dreams are made, the Hollywood Walk of Fame is where they are enshrined. Once the name given to a portion of Hollywood Boulevard in front of the famous theatre-land, now the Walk of Fame, on which is embedded more than 2,000 names of the cinema, zigzags its way through the downtown Hollywood. The Walk is now terminated by the Silver Four Ladies of Hollywood Gazebo, which is topped a small silver statuette of Marilyn Monroe in her infamous pose.

Originally an idea of one Oliver Weismuller, who was hired by Hollywood to give it a “face lift”, the Walk of Fame once had 2,500 blank stars, of which over 1,500 stars were filled during its first sixteen months (in 1960-61). Joanne Woodward had the first star of the Walk. Since then, new stars have been awarded at the rate of approximately two per month.

Each five-pointed terrazzo star has different bronze symbols in its centre: a film camera, a TV, a record, a radio microphone, and comedy/tragedy masks for achievements in film, TV, music, radio and theatre. It is possible to get multiple stars; Bob Hope got three stars for his contributions to three areas of expertise. Gene Autry is the only one who received stars in all five categories.

According to Wikipedia, in order for a person to get a star, he must be nominated, agree to attend the presentation ceremony, and a $15,000 fee must be paid for the maintenance (fee is typically paid by sponsors).

While the new buildings are constructed, the stars are temporarily removed from the sidewalk. The stars of Jimmy Stewart, Kirk Douglas and Gene Autry were thus stolen during a construction project. The only other star to be stolen (of Gregory Peck) however was sawed it out of the sidewalk. To dissuade such crimes, cameras are now placed around the walk.

At the corner of Hollywood and Vine, a special “round star” on each of the four corners commemorates the Apollo 11 astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin Aldrin. Disneyland, in honor of its 50th anniversary, was given an honorary star-plaque.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who were seventeen years old at the time they were awarded their star, are the youngest recipients of a star. They are also the only twins on the Walk. Once a nonexistent person named Maurice Diller was given a star on the Walk of Fame. After this was exposed by the Los Angeles Times in the late 1980s, the star was removed. Hedy Lamerr, the Czech icon who was the first to go nude on the silver screen (in the 1920s) and who was notable in her later life for being an inventor, also has a star. Of course, cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse and Woody Woodpecker has stars as well.

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