If you have a television, can read and live in this century, chances are you have heard about the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the 3.5 mile (5.6 km) walk along Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street in Los Angeles, California, which regularly brings stars of stage and screen to their knees.
Created in 1958, the star-laden sidewalks currently feature about 2500 stars, with about 25 new ones added each year. It’s a powerfully unique and enduring homage to our favorite stars, but there is a lot more to those stars than meets the eye.
10. One of the Stars is Actually a Moon
To receive a star on the Walk of Fame, one needs to have made big strides in one of five fields of entertainment – film, television, music, radio, or theater. It’s very rare that anybody outside of Hollywood is deemed important enough for such a tribute.
However, the Walk of Fame Committee has been known to bend the rules on occasion, if an outside contribution is deemed especially invaluable. In January 1993 for example, the Apollo 11 astronauts – Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr., and Michael Collins – received a plaque for their “contributions to the television industry,” due to their historic Moon Landing being broadcast to homes everywhere. Instead of a star, their plaque features a Moon containing their names, the date of their landing, and the name Apollo XI.
9. Many Politicians Have Stars
Arnold Schwarzenegger was the second Governor of California to receive a Star, with the first being Ronald Reagan, who is also the only US President who ever received the honor. The former President, for his part, starred in more than fifty films as well as several television productions, and even served as President of the Screen Actors Guild during his acting years.
Several other politicians also received stars for the acting skills, including George Murphy, Helen Gahagan, William Harrison Hays, and former Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley.
8. You Can Totally Steal Them
In the Walk of Fame’s history, four stars (that each weigh about 300 pounds, or 136 kg) have been stolen. Kirk Douglas and James Stewart’s stars were stolen in 2000, when they were temporarily removed for a construction project. They were later recovered at one of the construction workers’ homes, but both had to be remade as they obtained extensive damage. Gene Autry also lost one of his five stars at a construction site.
Last but not least, Gregory Peck’s star was flagrantly removed from its spot by thieves using a concrete saw. Autry and Peck’s original stars have never been recovered, and eventually had to be replaced.
7. The Family with the Most Stars
While many families sport more than one star on the Walk, the single family that has received the most honors are the Barrymores, with no less than seven stars to their credit. John and his brother Lionel (who has two,) their sister Ethel, uncle Sidney Drew, John Drew, and Drew are all represented.
The family’s stars aren’t simply lumped together, however. Locations of stars on the Walk are determined methodically, with the world famous icons normally placed near the TCL Chinese Theatre, and the Oscar-winning celebrities near the Dolby Theatre, both on Hollywood Boulevard. Drew’s star was placed directly in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre, validating her heritage as Hollywood Royalty.
6. The Wizard of Oz Munchkins All Share One Star
The Munchkins are the lovable inhabitants of Munchkin County, introduced in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz, one of the most well-known Hollywood classics of all time. The Munchkins were portrayed by 124 actors, as well as a few child actresses who were chosen for their relative height to the adults. In 2007, all 124 Munchkins were awarded a star on the Walk of Fame. The Munchkins star represents a total of 112 adults and 12 children, the largest group of individual actors represented by a single star.
5. Some of Them are Just Plain Missing
One would think that an immaculate record of star locations and relevant unveilings would be kept up-to-date, but this is apparently not the case, as two stars have seemingly vanished into thin air and cannot be located. To date, the stars of opera singer Richard Crooks and actress Geraldine Farrar remain missing. Whether they have been consistently overlooked, stolen, or just plain never installed, their whereabouts continue to be one of the Walk’s biggest mysteries.
4. Julio Iglesias’s Star Has Its Own Cleaning Crew
Fans can do some crazy things when they finally see their idols’ stars for the first time. From simple messages and drawings, to breaking and removing pieces, it would seem the loving tributes know no boundaries. Luckily for Julio Iglesias, his fan base largely consists of elderly women. Once a month, a group of his devotees scrub and polish his star, always keeping it in perfect condition.
Another fan of the Walk, John “Mr. Starshine” Peterson, also spends his days cleaning and polishing the stars of the Walk. Surviving only on donations from tourists, strangers and appreciative merchants, he is normally found on the ground somewhere along the walk, with his cleaners and rags, scrubbing and shining away.
3. Over a Dozen Stars Look Exactly the Same
The Walk contains various plaques for people sharing the same surname. In fact, the surname “Williams” can be found on 15 different stars. Several stars also feature the exact same name even though they represent different entertainers – for instance, there’s the two Robin Williams, two Harrison Fords, and two Michael Jacksons, to name but a few.
These duplicates have often led to cases of mistaken identity, as in the case of the Michael Jackson star. After the King of Pop’s death in 2009, fans left candles, flowers, and other memorabilia at his star, or so they thought. As it turns out, a radio personality also named Michael Jackson has a star of his very own, and fans were mistakenly leaving tributes to him.
2. Fictional Characters can Get Stars Too
On his 50th anniversary in 1978, Mickey Mouse became the first animated character to be honored on the Walk of Fame. Bugs Bunny received his star several years later, in 1985. Some other noteworthy fictional characters with real-life stars are: Kermit the Frog, Donald Duck, Tinker Bell, Snow White, Winnie the Pooh, Shrek, and The Simpsons.
In 2004, Godzilla became the first monster to receive a star in 2004, 50 years after his debut on the big screen, and hours before the release of his latest film Godzilla: Final Wars. In 1960 the canine characters of Strongheart and Lassie received their stars, followed in 1963 by Rin Tin Tin, honoring all the dogs that played their roles masterfully, and won our hearts time and again.
1. Muhammad Ali’s Star is on a Wall
Most of us know Muhammad Ali as a world champion boxer, but fewer know that he is also a social activist, and the subject of numerous books and films. In fact, his values of religious freedom, racial justice, and his often-controversial statements saw the NSA monitor his communications, and his refusal to fight in Vietnam resulted in his arrest and forfeiture of the World Heavyweight Championship.
In 2002, following the release of the film Ali, the Walk of Fame broke tradition and installed Muhammad Ali’s star on the wall of the Kodak Theatre Entertainment complex, rather than inserting it into the sidewalk as is custom. This was done after Ali remarked that he did not want his star to be stepped on by people who have no respect for him.