Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, the biggest star of all

By Sebastien Vuagnat and Frankie Taggart — Actors come and go, radio presenters live or die by their ratings and musicians top the charts only to be dropped, hostages to the vagaries of fickle public opinion. But some stars are destined to be remembered forever, their successes immortalised in terrazzo and brass on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Launched in 1958, the walk has built up more than 2,600 stars, each a tribute to the contribution of a public figure in the fields of motion picture, television, recording, radio or, latterly, live theatre.
“The criteria for getting a star are longevity in the field of entertainment awards nominations, and very important to us is that they do philanthropic work,” said Ana Martinez, who arranges the ceremonies.
The ceremonies often coincide with the release of a movie as it is the celebrity who chooses the date, and a $40,000 fee is paid by the honouree’s entourage — $15,000 to cover the event and the rest for maintenance.
Despite the large fee, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which runs the show, received more than 300 applications last year, but generally accepts around 30.
Among the most photographed sidewalk stars are those honouring Steven Spielberg, Nicole Kidman, Harrison Ford and Donald Trump. Trump, now the US president, got a star in 2007 for his work as a reality TV celebrity.
Nearly 50 years after its launch, the 4-km stretch smack in the middle of Hollywood now attracts an estimated 10 million tourists a year, who come to soak up the glamour.
The walk’s initial costs came to $1.25 million and the first stars honoured the likes of Olive Borden, Ronald Colman, Burt Lancaster and Joanne Woodward.
The walk was designed to accommodate 2,518 stars, and by the 1990s most of the space had gone, prompting the dedication of a second row.
Now there are hundreds of blank stars, leaving hope for newcomers to the entertainment industry pining after the Hollywood dream. — AFP