25 Fun Facts About the Hollywood Walk of Fame

iStock
iStock

The Hollywood Walk of Fame may have begun its life as a Chamber of Commerce marketing tactic, but today it’s one of Los Angeles’s most famous tourist attractions, drawing an estimated 10 million visitors each year. As a host of new celebrities, from Minnie Mouse to Mark Hamill, get ready to make their (permanent) mark along Hollywood Boulevard in 2018, here are 25 things you might not know about the world’s most star-studded sidewalk. 

1. THE IDEA FIRST CAME ABOUT IN 1953.

The original idea for the Walk of Fame came from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s volunteer president E. M. Stuart in 1953, a full seven years before construction began. According to a press release issued that year, he proposed the idea as a marketing tactic to “maintain the glory of a community whose name means glamour and excitement in the four corners of the world.” It wasn’t until January 1956 that an official proposal was submitted to the Los Angeles City Council.

2. THE ORIGINAL CONCEPT INCLUDED CARICATURES.

It took a while to settle on a concept and color scheme. Among the renderings put forth were a star that included a caricature of the honoree, planted along brown and blue sidewalks. Both ideas were eventually nixed—the caricatures because of the difficulty involved and the colors because they clashed with a building that real estate developer C.E. Toberman, a.k.a. Mr. Hollywood, was erecting on Hollywood Boulevard.

3. ONLY FOUR TYPES OF INDUCTEES WERE ORIGINALLY CONSIDERED.

Though today there are five categories of inductees, in the Walk of Fame’s earliest days there were just four: Motion Pictures, Television, Recording or Music, and Radio. It wasn’t until 1984 that a category for Theatre/Live Performance was added.

4. THE PUBLIC GOT A SNEAK PEEK OF THE WALK IN 1958.

Photo of a time capsule on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
iStock

In order to drum up excitement for the endeavor, eight stars—for Olive Borden, Ronald Colman, Louise Fazenda, Preston Foster, Burt Lancaster, Edward Sedgwick, Ernest Torrence, and Joanne Woodward—were unveiled (temporarily) to the public on August 15, 1958.

5. TWO LAWSUITS DELAYED THE WALK’S CONSTRUCTION.

Though construction on the official Walk was set to begin shortly after the sneak peek of those first eight stars, two lawsuits prevented that from happening. The first came courtesy of a group of nearby property owners who did not take kindly to the $1.25 million tax assessment that came with the Walk’s construction. The judge ruled against them. The second came from Charlie Chaplin, Jr., who demanded $400,000 in damages because his father was not chosen as an honoree. The case was dismissed in 1960, though the elder Chaplin did finally get a star in 1972 (the same year he won an honorary Oscar). 

6. STANLEY KRAMER’S STAR CAME FIRST.

After all of the delays, construction on the Walk of Fame officially began on February 8, 1960. Filmmaker Stanley Kramer—director of The Defiant Ones, Inherit the Wind, Judgment at Nuremberg, and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World—was the first honoree to have his star laid. It was installed on March 28, 1960. 

7. MOVIE STARS MAKE UP THE BULK OF THE WALK.

Of the 2,600-plus stars that currently make up the Walk of Fame, 47 percent of them are in the Motion Pictures category, followed by Television (24 percent), Music (17 percent), Radio (10 percent), and Live Performance (less than 2 percent).

8. MUHAMMAD ALI IS CONSIDERED A “LIVE PERFORMER.”

Eric Obeng, attending university in the U.S. from Ghana, poses for a friend while paying respect to the late Muhammad Ali at his star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame on June 4, 2016 in Hollywood, United States
David McNew, Getty Images

In 2002, Muhammad Ali was given a star when it was determined that boxing was indeed a form of live performance. Ali’s star is the only one on the Walk of Fame that you cannot step on; at the athlete’s request, it was installed in the wall of the Dolby Theatre (then the Kodak Theatre) because, according to The Guardian, the legendary athlete didn't want his name walked on by “people who have no respect for me.”

9. ANYONE CAN NOMINATE A CELEBRITY FOR A STAR—BUT THE STAR MUST AGREE.

It takes more than just talent to be nominated for a star on the Walk of Fame—and the nomination process is no joke. Though anyone, including a fan, can nominate his or her favorite celebrity for inclusion on the Walk of Fame, there’s an entire application process that must include a letter of agreement from the nominee or his or her manager.

10. THERE’S ALSO THE MATTER OF A $40,000 FEE.

Stars on the Walk of Fame don’t grow on trees. Nor do they come free. Every nomination application must also list a sponsor for said nominee, who agrees to cover the $40,000 [PDF] it costs to create, install, and maintain the star, which is made of terrazzo and brass. 

11. POSTHUMOUS NOMINATIONS ARE ALLOWED, BUT THERE'S A CATCH.

Of the approximately 24 stars dedicated each year, one is given posthumously—but only if the star in question has been deceased for a minimum of five years.

12. ATTENDING THE STAR’S UNVEILING IS A REQUIREMENT.

James Brolin and singer and actress Barbra Streisand pose for the media during the Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony for Brolin.
FREDERICK M. BROWN, AFP, Getty Images

Since 1968, the honoree’s attendance at his or her star’s unveiling is required. The only person to have challenged this rule is Barbra Streisand, who was awarded a star in 1976. (Rumor has it that she wasn’t comfortable with the crowds?) With no Babs in sight, one reporter took it upon himself to instead interview her wax figure at the nearby Hollywood Wax Museum. In 1998, Streisand did show up to support her husband, James Brolin, when he received his own star. 

13. IN 1994, 450 STARS WERE REMOVED DURING SUBWAY CONSTRUCTION.

In 1994, the stars of approximately 450 celebrities—Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Walt Disney, Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Gene Kelly, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and that pesky Charles Chaplin among them—were packed up and put away into storage for approximately three years to allow for the construction of two new subway stations on Hollywood Boulevard. 

14. MULTIPLE STARS ARE ALLOWED.

Celebrities are not limited to just one star: Bob Hope, Roy Rogers, Mickey Rooney, and Tony Martin each have stars in four categories. More than 30 people have stars in three categories, including Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Jack Benny.

15. GENE AUTRY HAS FIVE STARS.

Legendary entertainer Gene Autry is the only celebrity to have a star in all five Walk of Fame categories.

16. THERE ARE TWO HARRISON FORDS AND TWO MICHAEL JACKSONS.

Fans of pop star Michael Jackson mourn his death at talk radio host Michael Jackson's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on June 25, 2009 in Los Angeles, California
Michael Czerwonka, Getty Images

And no, they’re not the same people: Silent film actor Harrison Ford earned a star in 1960 while Harrison “Han Solo” Ford got his in 2003. Radio personality Michael Jackson and the King of Pop both earned a star in 1984. When Jackson (the Thriller one) passed away in 2009, a huge crowd of fans gathered to pay tribute to him ... at the wrong star.

17. FICTIONAL STARS COUNT.

There are 16 fictional celebrities with Walk of Fame stars (more if you count The Muppets as multiple characters); Mickey Mouse was the first to be inducted in 1978. Bugs Bunny, Snow White, Woody Woodpecker, Big Bird, The Simpsons, Rugrats, Kermit the Frog, Donald Duck, Godzilla, Winnie the Pooh, The Munchkins, Shrek, Tinker Bell, The Muppets (meaning that Kermit and Big Bird actually have two stars apiece), and Snoopy followed. By the end of this year, that number will be up to 17: Minnie Mouse will be getting her own star in 2018.

18. FOUR STARS HAVE BEEN STOLEN.

In 2005, Gregory Peck became the fourth celebrity to have his star stolen from the Walk of Fame. Though it was replaced immediately, the original star has never been recovered. Five years prior to the Peck theft, Jimmy Stewart and Kirk Douglas’s stars disappeared; they were recovered from the home of a construction worker who had been tasked with securing them. One of Gene Autry’s stars was also stolen (but he had stars to spare).

19. MAKING REPAIRS TO DAMAGED STARS IS THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES' RESPONSIBILITY, THOUGH THEY GET SOME HELP.

Whether by accident or intention, it's not unheard of for an honoree's star to be damaged or defaced. Sometimes, all it takes is a quick street sweep to clean up the mess; other times, reconstruction is necessary. Technically, because it's a public sidewalk, the city of Los Angeles "has the ultimate responsibility for the condition of the Walk of Fame." But they do get some help.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce raises money through its “Friends of the Walk of Fame” program, some of which is earmarked for maintenance. The Hollywood Historic Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Hollywood's history, also assists with making repairs when finances allow. And the Hollywood Entertainment District, a local business improvement district, employs a private cleaning company to keep the walk in tip-top shape.

20. THERE’S A TIME CAPSULE UNDER THE WALK OF FAME.

As part of the Walk of Fame’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2010, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce buried a time capsule in the same place the Walk originated, at the corner of Hollywood and Highland. Price is Right icon Bob Barker was on hand to help bury the capsule, which contains various items that commemorate the landmark, plus a note from Barker himself that reads: “Have your pets spayed and neutered.” Here’s hoping the people of 2060—the year the time capsule is set to be opened—get the reference.

21. THE DERN-LADDS ALL RECEIVED A STAR AT THE SAME TIME.

Bruce Dern, Laura Dern, and Diane Ladd each received a star on the Walk of Fame on the same day.
Valerie Macon, Getty Images

Also as part of the 50th anniversary celebration, three members of a single Hollywood family received stars at the same time when Bruce Dern, Diane Ladd, and Laura Dern were feted—a first for the Walk of Fame.

22. THE BARRYMORES HAVE THE NUMBERS.

As far as acting dynasties go, the Barrymores will be tough to beat. There are six stars among the family, including one each for John, Ethel, John Drew, and Drew and two for Lionel.

23. TYPOS HAPPEN.

There have been a couple of typos in the Walk of Fame's more than 50 years. In 2010, Julia Louis-Dreyfus showed up to smile over a star dedicated to “Julia Luis Dreyfus.” The Veep star, unsurprisingly, was rather amused by the mix-up, telling reporters, “The misspelling was so perfectly apt, a great metaphor for show business. Right when you think you've made it, you get knocked down. It's an ideal metaphor for how this business works.” The star was quickly replaced and the typo version was sent to Louis-Dreyfus as a souvenir.

Dick Van Dyke had a similar experience in 1992 when his last name was spelled as “Vandyke” (that error, too, was quickly rectified).

24. SOME TYPOS WERE PROPHETIC.

Confusion arose when actor Don Haggerty was awarded a star in 1960 that was engraved as Dan Haggerty. Though it was eventually replaced with a corrected version, in 1994 Grizzly Adams actor Dan Haggerty received his own star.

25. HONOREES HAVE FIVE YEARS TO SCHEDULE THEIR CEREMONIES.

As such, some people use their dedication ceremonies as a way to promote an upcoming project. “Stars like to make it a big deal,” Hollywood Chamber of Commerce president/CEP Leron Gubler told The Huffington Post. “That's the way they are. They get a little more bang for their buck out of it when they time it right.”

The Very Real Events That Inspired Game of Thrones's Red Wedding

Peter Graham's After the Massacre of Glencoe
Peter Graham's After the Massacre of Glencoe
Peter Graham, Google Cultural Institute, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Ask any Game of Thrones fan to cite a few of the show's most shocking moments, and the so-called "Red Wedding" from season 3's "The Rains of Castamere" episode will likely be at the top of their list. The events that unfolded during the episode shocked fans because of their brutality, but what might be even more surprising to know is that the episode was based on very real events.

Author George R.R. Martin has said that the inspiration for the matrimonial bloodbath is based on two dark events in Scottish history: the Black Dinner of 1440 and 1692's Massacre of Glencoe. “No matter how much I make up, there’s stuff in history that’s just as bad, or worse,” Martin told Entertainment Weekly in 2013. And he’s absolutely right. See for yourself.

The Massacre of Glencoe

The West Highland Way in 2005, view from the summit of the Devil's Staircase looking south over the east end of Glen Coe, towards Buachaille Etive Mòr with Creise and Meall a' Bhuiridh beyond
Colin Souza, Edited by Dave Souza, CC BY-SA 2.5, Wikimedia Commons

In 1691, all Scottish clans were called upon to renounce the deposed King of Scotland, James VII, and swear allegiance to King William of Orange (of William and Mary fame). The chief of each clan had until January 1, 1692, to provide a signed document swearing an oath to William. The Highland Clan MacDonald had two things working against them here. First of all, the Secretary of State, John Dalrymple, was a Lowlander who loathed Clan MacDonald. Secondly, Clan MacDonald had already sworn an oath to James VII and had to wait on him to send word that they were free to break that oath.

Unfortunately, it was December 28 before a messenger arrived with this all-important letter from the former king. That gave Maclain, the chief of the MacDonald clan, just three days to get the newly-signed oath to the Secretary of State.

Maclain was detained for days when he went through Inveraray, the town of the rival Clan Campbell, but still managed to deliver the oath, albeit several days late. The Secretary of State’s legal team wasn't interested in late documents. They rejected the MacDonalds's sworn allegiance to William, and set plans in place to cut the clan down, “root and branch.”

In late January or early February, 120 men under the command of Captain Robert Campbell arrived at the MacDonalds's in Glencoe, claiming to need shelter because a nearby fort was full. The MacDonalds offered their hospitality, as was custom, and the soldiers stayed there for nearly two weeks before Captain Drummond arrived with instructions to “put all to the sword under seventy.”

After playing cards with their victims and wishing them goodnight, the soldiers waited until the MacDonalds were asleep ... then murdered as many men as they could manage. In all, 38 people—some still in their beds—were killed. At least 40 women and children escaped, but fleeing into a blizzard blowing outside as their houses burned down meant that they all died of exposure.

The massacre was considered especially awful because it was “Slaughter Under Trust.” To this day, the door at Clachaig Inn in Glen Coe has a sign on the door that says "No hawkers or Campbells."

The Black Dinner

In November of 1440, the newly-appointed 6th Earl of Douglas, who was just 16, and his little brother David, were invited to join the 10-year-old King of Scotland, James II, for dinner at Edinburgh Castle. But it wasn’t the young King who had invited the Douglas brothers. The invitation had been issued by Sir William Crichton, Chancellor of Scotland, who feared that the Black Douglas (there was another clan called the Red Douglas) were growing too powerful.

As legend has it, the children were all getting along marvelously, enjoying food, entertainment and talking until the end of the dinner, when the head of a black bull was dropped on the table, symbolizing the death of the Black Douglas. The two young Douglases were dragged outside, given a mock trial, found guilty of high treason, and beheaded. It’s said that the Earl pleaded for his brother to be killed first so that the younger boy wouldn’t have to witness his older brother’s beheading.

Sir Walter Scott wrote this of the horrific event:

"Edinburgh Castle, toune and towre,
God grant thou sink for sin!
And that e'en for the black dinner
Earl Douglas gat therein."

This article has been updated for 2019.

15 Game of Thrones Products Every Fan Needs

Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones
Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones
Helen Sloan, HBO

Though Game of Thrones might be coming to its official end, that doesn’t mean that your fandom can’t—or won’t—carry on. Whether you’re a years-long defender of House Stark or have been rooting for House Targaryen since the beginning, there’s a candle, collectible pin, coffee mug, card game, and pretty much anything else you can imagine with your name (and preferred sigil) on it.

1. A Song of Ice and Fire Book Series; $46

Bantam's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' book series

Bantam, Amazon

If you’ve never read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series upon which the series is based, plenty more Westerosi drama awaits. And just because you’ve seen every episode of the series 10 times doesn’t mean you know which way the books will turn. (The TV show diverged from their narrative a long time ago—and dozens of the characters who have been killed off on your television screen are still alive and well in the books.) Plus, as Martin has yet to complete the series, you may just catch up in time for the newest book.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Map Marker Wine Stopper Set; $50

Nobody solves a problem like Tyrion Lannister … and his thought process usually includes copious amounts of wine (Dornish if you’ve got it). Something tells us you’re going need some vino yourself to get through the giant, hour-long hole left in your Sunday nights once Game of Thrones officially ends. Make sure you don’t let a drop of it go to waste by keeping one of these six wine stoppers—each one carved to represent the sigil of the most noble houses in the Seven Kingdoms—handy.

Buy it: HBO Shop or BoxLunch

3. Winterfell Coffee Mug; $25

If coffee is more your speed—we get it: the night is dark and full of terrors—this simple-yet-elegant Winterfell mug is an easy way to communicate to your co-workers why you’re typically a little bleary-eyed on Monday mornings.

Buy it: HBO Shop

4. Hodor Door Stop; $12

A 3D-printed Hodor door stop, inspired by 'Game of Thrones'

3D Cauldron, Amazon

An important part of being a Game of Thrones fan is accepting that showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff have no problem killing off your favorite characters, often in brutal ways. One of the series’ most memorable deaths was that of Hodor, Bran Stark’s personal mode of transport, who we loved despite the fact that the only word he ever uttered for six seasons was “Hodor”—and who we loved even more when, in the final moments of his life, we learned why that was the case. Pay tribute to the gentle giant, and his backstory, with this 3D-printed door stop.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Tarot Card Deck; $25

A 'Game of Thrones' tarot card deck, from Chronicle Books

Chronicle Books, Amazon

Channel your inner Maggy the Frog and see what the future holds for you and your loved ones (your enemies, too, if the mood strikes you) with Chronicle Books’s gorgeously packaged tarot card deck. The tarot tradition and Game of Thrones mythology blend seamlessly together in this box of goodies, which includes an instruction book and illustrated cards featuring your favorite characters and most beloved scenes from the show.

Buy it: Amazon or Chronicle Books

6. Fire and Blood Candle; $12

Mad Queen or not, show that you still stand behind the Mother of Dragons by filling your home with this House Targaryen-inspired votive candle. Best of all: Just wait to see the look on the faces of your guests when they ask “Mmmm … what’s that smell?” If you’d prefer not to answer with “fire and blood—doesn’t it smell delicious?,” there are other scents available: one called "Moon of My Life My Sun and Stars," another called "Be a Dragon," and one inspired by the Iron Throne itself (which must smell like victory).

Buy it: HBO Shop

7. Clue: Game of Thrones; $50

Margaery Tyrell with the battle axe in Cersei’s bedchambers. Rewrite the rules—and brutal deaths—of Game of Thrones with this special edition of the classic board game, which tasks you with figuring out who murdered whom, using what weapon, and where the incident took place. A double-sided playing board lets you choose whether you want to set the game in The Red Keep or Meereen.

Buy it: HBO Shop or BoxLunch

8. Game of Thrones Monopoly; $24

'Game of Thrones Monopoly' game board

Hasbro, Amazon

Who wants to be the Lord or Lady of Winterfell when you can become the preeminent real estate mogul of all the Seven Kingdoms? This special-edition Monopoly board puts a distinctly Westerosian twist on the classic game, with silver tokens to represent the sigils of each of the main houses and a card holder that plays the series’ haunting score whenever you press it.

Buy it: Amazon or Best Buy

9. House Stark Hoodie; $60

If you really wanted to dress like a Stark, you’d have a master blacksmith on hand to help customize your armor—or at least turn your IKEA rug into a luxurious cape. If you’re far less crafty, there’s always this full-zip hoodie featuring an embroidered direwolf on the front and an outlined illustration of the same on the back. The minimalist design is a way to show your fandom in a way that, to the untrained eye, might just look like you’re a fan of wolves. But the rest of us will know better. And approve.

Buy it: ThinkGeek

10. Deluxe Iron Throne Funko Pop! Set; $130

Funko's Iron Throne Pop! set of five

Funko, HBO Shop

Though it seems unlikely that a few of these characters will ever sit on the Iron Throne (either because they’re dead or have gone mad), a fan can always hope. And buying them as part of this five-piece set is an easy way to collect them all. If you don’t see your favorite character here, Amazon has got plenty more squat-headed figures to choose from, including Arya, Brienne of Tarth, Rhaegal (poor Rhaegal), and Ghost (poor Ghost). If you ever happen upon a headless Ned Stark Pop!, grab it; this hard-to-find figure can sell for more than $2000 on eBay.

Buy it: HBO Shop

11. Iron Throne Bookend; $60

After devoting more than eight years of your life to seeing Game of Thrones all the way through, maybe it’s you who deserves the Iron Throne. You can’t sit on this 7.5-inch replica, the base of which features sigils from all the noble houses, but you can show off your fancy George R.R. Martin book collection … or all that dragon fan fiction you’ve been working on.

Buy it: Best Buy or the HBO Shop

12. Game of Thrones Music Box; $13

'Game of Thrones' music box

Shenzhen Youtang Trade Co., Amazon

Channel your inner Arya by psyching yourself up with the iconic Game of Thrones theme song whenever you feel the need to hear it with this hand-cranked music box.

Buy it: Amazon

13. Iron Throne Tankard; $70

Show your guests who's boss at your next dinner party—or raucous feast—as you take your place at the head of the table and guzzle your mead (or giant's milk—we don't judge) from this Iron Throne-themed tankard, completed with sword handle.

Buy it: HBO Shop

14. Game of Thrones Socks; $8

It gets cold in the North. Keep your tootsies warm with this six-pack of stylish ankle-cut socks.

Buy it: Target

15. Living Language Dothraki; $16

A copy of the Living Language Dothraki language course

Living Language, Amazon

By now, you've surely learned at least a handful of common Dothraki words and phrases. But if you wan to become fluent in the (fictional) language, this language course is one way to do it. Now: Finne zhavvorsa anni?

Buy it: Amazon

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