The Hollywood Walk of Fame comprises more than 2,600 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 musicians, actors, 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. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce holds trademark rights to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The Walk of Fame runs 1.3 miles (2.1 km) east to west on Hollywood Boulevard from Gower Street to La Brea Avenue, plus a short segment of Marshfield Way that runs diagonally between Hollywood and La Brea; and 0.4 miles (0.64 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 combined—and has played an important role in making tourism the largest industry in Los Angeles County.
As of 2018, the Walk of Fame comprises over 2,600 stars, spaced at 6-foot (1.8 m) intervals.
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 fewer than 2% in the live performance category. According to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, approximately 20 new stars are added to the Walk each year.
Special category stars recognize various contributions by corporate entities, service organizations, and special honorees, and display emblems unique to those honorees. For example, former Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley's star displays the Seal of the City of Los Angeles; the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) star emblem is a replica of a Hollywood Division badge; and stars representing corporations, such as Victoria's Secret and the Los Angeles Dodgers, display the honoree's corporate logo. 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. 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.
The monuments for the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon are uniquely shaped: Four identical circular moons, each 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 Hollywood Chamber of Commerce credits E.M.
Multiple accounts exist for the origin of the star concept.
In February 1956, a prototype was unveiled featuring a caricature of an example honoree (John Wayne, by some accounts) inside a blue star on a brown background. 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.
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.
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.
Construction of the Walk began in 1958 but two lawsuits delayed completion.
While Joanne Woodward is often singled out as the first to receive a star on the Walk of Fame, 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 prototype stars that were built while litigation was still holding up permanent construction. The eight prototypes were installed temporarily on the northwest corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue in August 1958 to generate publicity and to demonstrate how the Walk would eventually look. The other seven names were Olive Borden, Ronald Colman, Louise Fazenda, Preston Foster, Burt Lancaster, Edward Sedgwick, and Ernest Torrence. Official groundbreaking took place on February 8, 1960. 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. The Woodward legend may have originated, according to one source, because she was the first to pose with her star for photographers.
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. After the initial installation of approximately 1,500 stars in 1960 and 1961, eight years passed without the addition of a new star.
Radio personality, television producer and Chamber member Johnny Grant is generally credited with implementing the changes that resuscitated the Walk and established it as a significant tourist attraction. 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. Grant later recalled that "it was tough to get people to come accept a star" until the neighborhood finally began its recovery in the 1980s. 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. The fee has increased incrementally over time; by 2002 it had reached $15,000, and stood at $30,000 in 2012. The current (2017) fee is $40,000.
Grant was awarded a star in 1980 for his television work. In 2002, he received a second star in the "special" category to acknowledge his pivotal role in improving and popularizing the Walk. 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, among others). 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", is located at the entrance to the Dolby Theatre adjacent to Johnny Grant Way.
In 1984, a fifth category, Live Theatre, was added to permit acknowledgment 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.
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. At the same time, Sophia Loren was honored with the 2,000th star on the Walk.
During construction of tunnels for the Los Angeles subway system in 1996, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority removed and stored more than 300 stars. 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; but the Cultural Heritage Commission ruled that the star pads were to be removed intact.
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.
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.
To encourage supplemental funding for the project by corporate sponsors, the "Friends of Walk of Fame" program was inaugurated. Absolut Vodka became the first Friend with a donation of $1 million, followed by L'Oréal. Friends are recognized with honorary plaques adjacent to the Walk of Fame in front of the Dolby Theatre. 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." Karen Fondu, President of L'Oréal Paris, countered that the association was "a natural affinity."
In June 2019, The City of Los Angeles commissioned Gensler architects to provide a master plan for a $4 million dollar renovation to improve and "update the streetscape concept" for the Walk of Fame with the goal of improving the public right-of-way.
Walk of Fame today
The original selection committees chose to recognize some entertainers' contributions in multiple categories with multiple stars.
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. Cher forfeited her opportunity to join this exclusive club by declining to schedule the mandatory personal appearance when she was selected in 1983. She did, however, attend the unveiling of the Sonny & Cher star in 1998, as a tribute to her recently deceased ex-husband, Sonny Bono.
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. 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; but even then, 16 years later, the Chamber of Commerce received angry letters from across the country protesting its decision to include him.
The committee's Chaplin difficulties reportedly contributed to its decision in 1978 against awarding a star to Paul Robeson, the controversial opera singer, actor, athlete, writer, lawyer and social activist. The resulting outcry from the entertainment industry, civic circles, local and national politicians, and many other quarters was so intense that the decision was reversed and Robeson was awarded a star in 1979.
Ashley Lee from the Los Angeles Times first broke on May 23, 2019 this story, "Leo Robin never got his Walk of Fame star.
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 adjust interpretations of their rules to justify a selection.
Muhammad Ali's star was granted after the committee decided that boxing could be considered a form of "live performance". Its placement, on a wall of the Dolby Theatre, makes it the only star mounted on a vertical surface, acceding to Ali's request that his name not be walked upon, possibly because he shared his name with the Prophet Mohamed.
All living honorees have been required since 1968 to personally attend their star's unveiling, and approximately 40 have declined the honor due to this condition. The only recipient to date who 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. Streisand did attend when her husband, James Brolin, unveiled his star in 1998 two blocks to the east.
Sixteen stars are identified with a one-word stage name: Cantinflas, Houdini, Liberace, Mako, Meiklejohn, Paderewski, Parkyakarkus, Pink, Roseanne, RuPaul, Sabu, Shakira, Slash, Sting, Thalía and Usher.
Two pairs of stars share identical names representing different people.
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".
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, John Chambers and Rick Baker. 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. 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.
Ten inventors have stars on the Walk: George Eastman, inventor of roll film; 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; Hedy Lamarr, co-inventor of a frequency-hopping radio guidance system that was a precursor to Wi-Fi networks and cellular telephone systems; and Ray Dolby, co-developer of the video tape recorder and inventor of the Dolby noise reduction system.
A few star recipients moved on after their entertainment careers to political notability.
On its 50th anniversary in 2005, Disneyland received a star near Disney's Soda Fountain on Hollywood Boulevard. Stars for commercial organizations are only considered for those with a Hollywood show business connection of at least 50 years' duration. While not technically part of the Walk itself (a city ordinance prohibits placing corporate names on sidewalks), the star was installed adjacent to it.
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, Minnie Mouse, Woody Woodpecker, Snow White, Tinker Bell, Winnie the Pooh, Shrek, The Simpsons, the Rugrats, Snoopy, and Alvin and the Chipmunks. The star inscribed Charlie Tuna honors not the animated advertising mascot, but Art Ferguson, the long-time radio personality and game show announcer.
Other fictional characters on the Walk include the Munchkins (as mentioned), one monster (Godzilla), and three non-animated canine characters (Strongheart, Lassie, and Rin Tin Tin). Fictional character Pee-Wee Herman, played by comedian Paul Reubens, also has a star, which was awarded in 1988.
Eleven stars recognize cartoonists and animators: Walt Disney, Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Walter Lantz, Hanna-Barbera, Charles M. Schulz, Jay Ward, Dr. Seuss, Matt Groening, Seth MacFarlane, and John Lasseter. Three puppeteers have stars: Edgar Bergen, Jim Henson and Shari Lewis, as does Fran Allison, who appeared with Burr Tillstrom's puppets on the TV show Kukla, Fran and Ollie. Henson also has three stars dedicated to his creations: one for The Muppets as a whole, one for Kermit the Frog and one for Big Bird.
Locations of individual stars are not necessarily arbitrary.
Honorees may request a specific location for their star, although final decisions remain with the Chamber. Jay Leno, for example, requested a spot near the corner of Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Ave. because he was twice picked up at that location by police for vagrancy (though never actually charged) shortly after his arrival in Hollywood. George Carlin chose to have his star placed in front of the KDAY radio station near the corner of Sunset Blvd. and Vine St., where he first gained national recognition. Lin-Manuel Miranda chose a site in front of the Pantages Theatre where his musicals, In The Heights and Hamilton, played. Carol Burnett explained her 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 theater manager fired her on the spot for "insubordination" and humiliated her by stripping the epaulets from her uniform in the theater lobby. Twenty-six years later, at her request, Burnett's star was placed at the corner of Hollywood and Wilcox—in front of the theater.
In 2010, Julia Louis-Dreyfus's star was constructed with the name "Julia Luis Dreyfus". The actress was reportedly amused, and the error was corrected. A similar mistake was made on Dick Van Dyke's star in 1993 ("Vandyke"), and rectified.
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.
For 28 years, the star intended to honor Mauritz Stiller, the Helsinki-born pioneer of Swedish film who brought Greta Garbo to the United States, read "Maurice Diller", possibly due to mistranscription of verbal dictation. The star was finally remade with the correct name in 1988.
Three stars remain misspelled: the opera star Lotte Lehmann (spelled "Lottie"); Cinerama co-inventor and King Kong creator, director, and producer Merian C. Cooper, ("Meriam"); and cinematography pioneer Auguste Lumière ("August").
Monty Woolley, the veteran film and stage actor best known for The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942) and the line "Time flies when you're having fun", is officially listed in the motion picture category, but his star on the Walk of Fame bears the television emblem. Woolley did appear on the small screen late in his career, but his TV contributions were eclipsed by his extensive stage, film, and radio work. Similarly, the star of film actress Carmen Miranda bears the TV emblem, although her official category is motion pictures. Radio and television talk show host Larry King is officially a television honoree, but his star displays a film camera.
Acts of vandalism on the Walk of Fame have ranged from profanity and political statements written on stars with markers and paint to damage with heavy tools. Vandals have also tried to chisel out the brass category emblems embedded in the stars below the names. 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.
Four of the stars, which weigh about 300 pounds (140 kg) each, have been stolen from the Walk of Fame.
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. Paul McCartney's star was installed in the same location in 2012.
Donald Trump's star was defaced twice. During the 2016 presidential campaign, a man named James Otis used a sledge hammer and a pickaxe to destroy all of the star's brass inlays. He readily admitted to the vandalism  and was arrested and sentenced to three years' probation. The star was repaired and served as a site of pro-Trump demonstrations until it was destroyed a second time in July 2018 by a man named Austin Clay. Clay later surrendered himself to the police and was bailed out by James Otis. Clay was sentenced to one day in jail, three years of probation, and 20 days of community service. He also was ordered to attend psychological counseling and pay restitution of $9,404.46 to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.
In August 2018, the West Hollywood City Council unanimously passed a resolution requesting permanent removal of Trump's star due to repeated vandalism, according to Mayor John Duran.
The Four Ladies of Hollywood gazebo—known officially as the Hollywood and La Brea Gateway—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. 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. The domed structure is held aloft by four caryatids sculpted by Harl West 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.
The gazebo was dedicated on February 1, 1994, to a mixed reception.
Each year an average of 200 nominations are submitted to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Walk of Fame selection committee.
A fee of $40,000 (as of 2018), 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.
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).
In 2010, Lestz was replaced as chairman by John Pavlik, former Director of Communications for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 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. The current chair, according to the Chamber's 2016 selection announcement, is film producer Maureen Schultz.
Some fans show respect for star recipients both living and dead by laying flowers or other symbolic tributes at their stars. 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".
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has adopted the tradition of placing flower wreaths at the stars of newly deceased awardees; for example Bette Davis in 1989, Katharine Hepburn in 2003, and Jackie Cooper in 2011. The stars of other deceased celebrities, such as Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Pryor, Ricardo Montalbán, James Doohan, Frank Sinatra, Robin Williams, Joan Rivers, George Harrison, Aretha Franklin, and Stan Lee have become impromptu memorial and vigil sites as well, and some continue to receive anniversary remembrances.