The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a historic landmark which consists of more than 2,700 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 world-famous Hollywood Walk of Fame is the number one most visited landmark in the United States, with an estimated 10 million annual visitors in 2010. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a destination for dreamers around the globe. The famous stretch of sidewalk along Hollywood Boulevard symbolizes glamor, as it is marked with the names of the most successful actors, filmmakers, musicians and celebrities in history.
Honoring luminaries in motion pictures, television, radio, live theatre, and recording since 1960, the famous sidewalk includes both sides of Hollywood Boulevard from Gower to La Brea, plus both sides of Vine Street from Yucca to Sunset. Over the years, the Walk of Fame has expanded so much that it is now over a mile long on both sides of the road.
The Walk of Fame came to be thanks to an initiative of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, which had the idea of establishing a place to give special recognition to Hollywood stars during the early 1950s. In each star, next to the name of the famous person, there is always a symbol that represents one of the five categories into which the “stars” are divided: cinema, television, music, theatre, and radio. The first commemorative plaques were built in 1958. At the moment, more than 2,600 stars have been installed on the sidewalk.
An award on the Walk of Fame is not a privilege of celebrities alone. Over time, the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard has also included fictional characters who have entered the collective imagination, such as The Simpsons, and Disney and Sesame Street characters. There are some exceptions that do not fall into these categories, such as the Disneyland attraction that has the shape of a building as its symbol, and the one dedicated to the Los Angeles Police Department that has the distinctive badge of the local police force. Neil Armstrong and his fellow astronauts, instead of a star, have a commemorative plaque in the shape of the moon to honor their feat.
A short walk from such big Hollywood Boulevard attractions as TCL Chinese Theatre, El Capitan Theatre, and Madame Tussauds Hollywood. Hollywood Boulevard is surrounded by souvenir shops, and many people wearing elaborate costumes that resemble famous movie stars. Visitors should pay attention to the fact that the goods or services sold in this area often take advantage of the star effect and carry a significant premium.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is an internationally-recognized Hollywood icon. With about 24 induction ceremonies annually broadcast around the world, the constant reinforcement provided to the public has made the Walk of Fame a top visitor attraction. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is undoubtedly one of the most successful marketing ideas ever produced.
The man credited with the idea for creating a Walk of Fame, was E. M. Stuart, who served in 1953 as the volunteer president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Where the original idea came from is not certain; however, the ceiling of the dining room of the historic Hollywood Hotel once had stars painted on the ceiling with the names of celebrities and that may have been a precursor of the idea to place stars in the sidewalks. These plans were crystallized and submitted to the Los Angeles City Council in January of 1956. The Council embraced the idea and instructed the Board of Public Works to prepare the engineering specifications and to create the necessary assessment district to pay for the improvements.
The Improvement Association moved forward between May 1956 and the fall of 1957 in selecting the honorees to be initially placed in the Walk. Four committees were established to represent the four different aspects of the entertainment industry at that time – motion picture, television, recording and radio. The committees included some of the most prominent names in entertainment. Once the effort began, suggestions began pouring in to the Chamber offices – as many as 150 names a week were submitted.
Walk of Fame GroundbreakingOn August 15, 1958, the Chamber and City unveiled eight stars on Hollywood Blvd. at Highland Avenue to create excitement and to demonstrate what the Walk would look like. The eight honorees included: Olive Borden, Ronald Colman, Louise Fazenda, Preston Foster, Burt Lancaster, Edward Sedgwick, Ernest Torrence, and Joanne Woodward. Construction on the Walk was expected to begin shortly thereafter.
On February 8, 1960, construction actually began on the long-planned Walk. The first star to be laid in the new Walk was that of Stanley Kramer on March 28, 1960, near the intersection of Hollywood and Gower. By that fall, work had progressed far enough that it was decided to dedicate the Walk on November 23, 1960, in conjunction with the Hollywood Christmas Parade.
Shortly after completion, it was recognized that in order to continue the original intent of the program for the addition of more names in the vacant stars, a mechanism had to be created. Until December 11, 1968, that another star was added. From this time forward, star ceremonies were held on a fairly regular basis. In 1972, Charlie Chaplin was awarded a star on the Walk of Fame. By May 21, 1975, when Carol Burnett received her honors, a total of 99 stars had been added to the original Walk.
In 1978, the Cultural Heritage Board of the City of Los Angeles designated the Hollywood Walk of Fame as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #194. A fifth category of “Live Theatre” was added in 1984 to allow persons who excelled in all types of live performance to be considered for stars.
By the 1990s, space in the most popular areas was becoming difficult to find. To solve the problem, The city of LA approved the creation of a second row of stars on the sidewalk, which would alternate with the existing stars. On February 1, 1994 (which was Hollywood’s birthday anniversary), the Walk of Fame was extended one block to the west from Sycamore to LaBrea on Hollywood Blvd. as part of a revitalization project by the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency. Thirty stars were added to the block to create an instant attraction. At this time, Sophia Loren was honored with the 2,000th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
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. Plans were made to repair or replace at least 778 stars at an estimated cost of over $4 million.
Today, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce continues to add stars to the Walk of Fame as the representative of the City of Los Angeles. An average of two stars are added to the Walk on a monthly basis. The Walk is a tribute to all of those who worked so hard to develop the concept and to maintain this world-class tourist attraction.
The Walk of Fame runs 1.3 miles (2.1 km) east to west on Hollywood Boulevard, from Gower Street to the Hollywood and La Brea Gateway at La Brea Avenue, plus a short segment on Marshfield Way that runs diagonally between Hollywood Boulevard 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 the Sunset Strip, the 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 2021, the Walk of Fame comprises 2,704 stars, which are spaced at 6-foot (1.8 m) intervals. The monuments are coral-pink terrazzo five-point stars rimmed with brass (not bronze, an oft-repeated inaccuracy) inlaid into a charcoal-colored terrazzo background. The name of the honoree is inlaid in brass block letters in the upper portion of each star. Below the inscription, in the lower half of the star field, a round inlaid brass emblem indicates the category of the honoree’s contributions. The emblems symbolize five categories within the entertainment industry:
A side view of a classic movie camera. Classic film camera representing motion pictures.
A tube-type television with twin aerials. Television receiver representing broadcast television.
A top view of phonograph disc and pickup arm. Phonograph record representing audio recording or music.
An antique studio-style microphone. Radio microphone representing broadcast radio.
Plaque with the classic theatrical comedy/tragedy masks. Comedy/tragedy masks representing theater/live performance.
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.
Locations of individual stars are not necessarily arbitrary. Stars of many particularly well-known celebrities are found in front of the TCL (formerly Grauman’s) Chinese Theatre. Oscar-winners’ stars are usually placed near the Dolby Theatre, site of the annual Academy Awards presentations.
Locations are occasionally chosen for ironic or humorous reasons: Mike Myers’s star lies in front of an adult store called the International Love Boutique, an association with his Austin Powers roles; Roger Moore’s star and Daniel Craig’s star are located at 7007 Hollywood Boulevard in recognition of their titular role in the James Bond 007 film series; Ed O’Neill’s star is located outside a shoe store in reference to his character’s occupation on the TV show Married… with Children; and the last star, at the very end of the westernmost portion of the Walk, belongs to The Dead End Kids.
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.
Alternative star designs
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., and 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.
Each year an average of 200 nominations are submitted to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Walk of Fame selection committee. Anyone, including fans, can nominate anyone active in the field of entertainment as long as the nominee or their management approves the nomination. Nominees must have a minimum of five years’ experience in the category for which they are nominated and a history of “charitable contributions”. Posthumous nominees must have been deceased at least five years.
A fee of $50,000 (as of 2020), 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. The fee is usually paid by the nominating organization, which may be a fan club, film studio, record company, broadcaster, or other sponsor involved with the prospective honoree. The Starz cable network, for example, paid for Dennis Hopper’s star as part of the promotion for its series Crash.
The original selection committees chose to recognize some entertainers’ contributions in multiple categories with multiple stars. Gene Autry is the only honoree with stars in all five categories. Bob Hope, Mickey Rooney, Roy Rogers, and Tony Martin each have stars in four categories.
George Eastman is the only honoree with two stars in the same category for the same achievement, the invention of roll film. Charlie Chaplin is the only honoree to be selected twice for the same star on the Walk.
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.
Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump are the only two presidents of the United States to have a star dedicated to them on the Walk of Fame. The former got it thanks to his work as a Hollywood actor before embarking on his political career while the latter received it for his role as a television personality.
Two pairs of stars share identical names representing different people. There are two Harrison Ford stars, honoring the silent film actor (at 6665 Hollywood Boulevard), and the present-day actor (in front of the Dolby Theatre at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard). Two Michael Jackson stars represent the singer/dancer/songwriter (at 6927 Hollywood Boulevard), and the radio personality (at 1597 Vine Street).
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 two costume designers have received a star, eight-time Academy Award Winner Edith Head, and the first African-American to win an Oscar for costume design, Ruth E. Carter.
Sidney Sheldon is one of two novelists with a star, which he earned for writing screenplays for such films as The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947) before becoming a novelist. 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 triode vacuum tube, which made radio and TV possible, and Phonofilm, which made sound films 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 first video tape recorder and inventor of the Dolby noise-reduction system.
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.
TCL Chinese Theatre – TCL Chinese Theatre on Hollywood BoulevardIt is one of the historical cinemas in Los Angeles. When it opened in 1927, “The King of Kings” was the first movie screened here. Outside the cinema, you can see almost 200 concrete blocks where handprints, footprints, and celebrity signatures are immortalized.
Dolby Theatre – Once called the Kodak Theatre, the Dolby Theatre is the building where the Oscars ceremony is held each year. Also in this case, you can take a tour and learn about the history of both cinema and the Oscars.
Hollywood & Highland – This huge shopping mall built on several floors is one of the best viewpoints to admire the Hollywood Sign, the big sign on the surrounding hills.