Travel: The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

Last May, we traveled to Cali via Rt 66 from Albequerque NM.  I knew during the planning phase for this trip that one of the “big-ticket items” for me would be the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.  The Walk of Fame and the Chinese Theater have been bucket list items of mine for decades.  Ma and I would watch the news when famous people would receive their stars.  There they would be, kneeling on the ground with the crowd surrounding them for the photo-op.  All of the people we watched – listened to – were entertained by…  Although I was looking forward to walking ALL of the stars, the ones for the actors were going to be my go-to.  I love that on the screen (either small or large) – a set of characters can transport you out of the life you are in and into a world of history, drama, comedy or music.  The way they weave their stories to create the fabric of a tale which surrounds you, immerses you into a world of their making. Movies were a huge thing for Ma and I, especially the Horror genre.  I can remember specific details regarding the feel/smell of the theater where we watched American Werewolf in London.  We did not confine ourselves to one genre though.  She took me to see Star Wars, Smokey and the Bandit, Grease… When HBO and then VHS entered our home, and we could watch movies without commercial interruptions,  just… oh, wow!  (As a side note, VHS stands for Video Home System.  In case you were wondering).

There are over 2600 stars along 15 blocks of the Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street.  The stars cover more than just actors and actresses.  There are musicians, radio personalities, TV reality stars and fictional characters (including cartoon characters).  It is maintained by the Hollywood Historic Trust.  In the middle of each star there is a symbol that denotes the field for which the person being honored is known.  Those symbols are as follows:

Circular 4-inch brass plaque showing a side view of a classic movie camera Classic film camera – motion pictures

Circular 4-inch brass plaque with a tube-type television with twin aerials Television receiver – broadcast television

Circular 4-inch brass plaque with a top view of phonograph disc and pickup arm Phonograph record – audio recording / music

Circular 4-inch brass plaque with an antique studio-style microphone Radio microphone – broadcast radio

Circular 4-inch brass plaque with the classic theatrical comedy/tragedy masks Comedy/tragedy masks – theater and live performance artists

The official website for the Walk of Fame can be found here: http://www.walkoffame.com/

These are not the only symbols.  There are some corporate logos, organization symbols and there are four circle moons that represent the astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.

After determining who the first stars would be in 1956, construction was set to get underway in 1958.  However, a local citizen fought the construction of the walk because he felt the $1.2M tax levy against the citizens living in the area was unfair and illegal.  A second lawsuit was filed by Charlie Chaplain’s son who felt that damages should be awarded because his father had been removed from the original honorees due to the questioning of his character (he had been charged in defiance of the Mann Act but the charges were later dropped).  If asked, many people will tell you that Joanne Woodward’s star was the first.  But, actually, there were several stars placed at the “same time” during construction. After the ordeal of trials and arguments, the groundbreaking ceremony was held in February of 1960 and construction began.  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 Joanne Woodward legend may have originated, according to one source, because she was the first to pose with her star for photographers.  I found this:

I checked my phone the night before traversing the Walk to see what time the sunrise would occur.  Husband is NOT a pop culture freak like me.  To say that he is the other side of the magnet would be adequate.  It was decided he would sleep while I walked and gandered and was “star” struck.  I left the hotel a little after 5:30AM and made my way along the street to the Walk.  The neighborhood is very interesting at that hour of the morning.  I was overwhelmed by the number of homeless folk in the area. I would say good morning.  They would respond with kind eyes and a smile. I walked along the stars on the far end, making conversation with myself about what stood out “oh lookie there, there is so and so, Ma would have loved that one”  “ahhh Alex and I saw him in that show one time”  “ha ha ha Mander loves her”… There was one point, on a corner, that an overturned garbage can created a spew of garbage on the stars.  I cannot remember who the star was at this moment, just that I was kicking it out of the way to get a clean photo while mumbling to myself something like “seriously?!?”  Next to me, a glorious creature said “dine and dash”.  “What?”  and I turned to him waiting for his answer.  A dine and dash is when the homeless know that the working people (and officers) will be around soon so they have to get up and moving away from the tourists. They turn over the garbage cans in an attempt to find discarded food or usable goods.  I looked down the street and true to his word every can on every corner had been overturned.  It gave me pause.  All that glitters is not gold.  Here, among the stars that signify all the big names and money in Hollywood, were people just struggling to live at the base level.  I can also say that the next phase of people to populate the area was full of workers, making their way to their jobs.  Those people did not return smiles. I continued on my way.

Out of all the actors, musicians, entertainers – I was looking forward to one.  Robin Williams.  I cannot begin to explain the impact Robin Williams made on my life.  I was a weird kid.  He made me feel like it was ok to be weird with his Mork from Ork (yes, I had suspenders to match his).  When I was pregnant, and struggling to decide on a middle name for my son Alex, I watched Live From The Met.  At the end, he pretended to take his son’s hand (who was not there) and said “Come on Zach.”  My son can attribute his name, Alexander Zachary, to Robin.  When he died it broke my heart into a million pieces.  I mourned his loss as if he was family.  For me, he was family.  It took me over two hours, some confusion on location and 10,632 Garmin steps – but I would eventually find him.

One of the other items on my bucket list I was able to see from a distance but did not have the opportunity to get close to: the Hollywood Sign.  As I made my way along the stars, I happened to look to my left and between the buildings, up on the mountain behind, I saw it!  I hope to make my way back to LA at some point.  To see the sights with more time to enjoy them.  I was able to see the sign again later in the morning from the Chinese Theater.  One day I will stand next to it.

In the middle of the Walk is Grauman’s Chinese Theater.  Ugh.  So…the LA stop on the trip coincided with the release of the Han Solo movie for Star Wars.  Because of that, there were a number of “campers” outside the theater and they covered the area where I wished for access to the handprints of the stars.  It was blocked off for the most part and I was pissy. I was able to lean out over the barricade for the stupid Solo fans to capture these:

In trying to make my way around the “bet you are sorry you camped out for that piece of shit movie” geeks, I found my way into the mall area behind/beside the theater.  There were these massive stories-tall elephant statues which were amazing.

Because of the hour, there were a few homeless folk, some cleaning folk and me.  With no one to stop me, I made my way up a series of stairs.  It was my intention to snap a clear shot of the Hollywood sign and the Walk of Fame from above.  I did my best with the Hollywood sign and then resigned myself to the other side of the structure for photos of the street from above.  I soaked it in for a moment.  Again, talking to myself the whole time.  I could see everything from this vantage point.  Across the road was where Jimmy Kimmel films his show at the El Capitain Theater.  Just down the street was the Church of Scientology sign.  (That place still baffles me.)  After a moment of oohhs and ahhs and a few moments more of snapping pictures, I was approached by a person in a uniform. I think he was with the Lowes hotel.  He told me that the guards would be around shortly, they are in blue, so get my pictures quickly.  I was wrapping up by then and thanked the gentleman.  As I made my way back via the way I came, I happened to see a homeless man who had possible slept in an out of the way corner.  We made eye contact and I asked if he had heard, he nodded and I moved along.

I took so many photos of the actual stars that there is no way I can upload them all to this blog.  I added them all to a Flickr album that can be found here: The Walk Of Fame.

Have you been to The Walk of Fame?  Which was your favorites?  What were your thoughts?

 

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