When the Hollywood honchos realized how limited the footprint space was at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, they came up with another way to pay tribute to the stars. Since 1960, more than 2,200 celebrities have been honored along the world's most famous sidewalk. Each bronze medallion, set into the center of a terrazzo star, pays homage to a famous television, film, radio, theater, or recording personality. Although about a third of them are just about as obscure as Michael Jackson's sexual preference -- their fame simply hasn't withstood the test of time -- millions of visitors are thrilled by the sight of famous names like James Dean (1719 Vine St.), John Lennon (1750 Vine St.), Marlon Brando (1765 Vine St.), Rudolph Valentino (6164 Hollywood Blvd.), Marilyn Monroe (6744 Hollywood Blvd.), Elvis Presley (6777 Hollywood Blvd.), Greta Garbo (6901 Hollywood Blvd.), Louis Armstrong (7000 Hollywood Blvd.), Barbra Streisand (6925 Hollywood Blvd.), and Eddie Murphy (7000 Hollywood Blvd.). Gene Autry is all over the place: The singing cowboy earned five different stars (a sidewalk record), one in each category.
The sight of bikers, metalheads, homeless wanderers, and hordes of disoriented tourists all treading on memorials to Hollywood's greats makes for a bizarre and somewhat tacky tribute. But the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has been doing a terrific job sprucing up the pedestrian experience with filmstrip crosswalks, swaying palms, and more. And at least 1 weekend a month, a group of fans calling themselves Star Polishers busy themselves scrubbing tarnished medallions.
The legendary sidewalk is continually adding new names, such as Muhammad Ali in front of the Kodak Theatre. The public is invited to attend dedication ceremonies; the honoree -- who pays a whopping $15,000 for the eternal upkeep -- is usually in attendance. Contact the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, 6255 Sunset Blvd., Ste. 911, Hollywood, CA 90028 (tel. 323/469-8311), for information on who's being honored this week.
- © Frommer's 2013
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