The Hollywood Walk of Fame comprises more than 2,600 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 actors, musicians, directors, producers, musical and theatrical groups, fictional characters, and others. The Walk of Fame is administered by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and maintained by the self-financing Hollywood Historic Trust. It is a popular tourist destination, with a reported 10 million visitors in 2003.
The Walk of Fame runs 1.3 miles (2.1 km) east to west on Hollywood Boulevard from Gower Street to La Brea Avenue, plus a short segment of Marshfield Way that runs diagonally between Hollywood 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 Sunset Strip, TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s), the Queen Mary, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art—and has played an important role in making tourism the largest industry in Los Angeles County.
As of 2018, the Walk of Fame comprises over 2,600 stars, 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. In the upper portion of each star field the name of the honoree is inlaid in brass block letters. 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:
By March 1956 the final design and coral-and-charcoal color scheme had been approved, and between the spring of 1956 and the fall of 1957, 1,558 honorees were selected by committees representing the four major branches of the entertainment industry at that time: motion pictures, television, audio recording, and radio. The committees met at the Brown Derby restaurant, and included such prominent names as Cecil B. DeMille, Samuel Goldwyn, Jesse L. Lasky, Walt Disney, Hal Roach, Mack Sennett, and Walter Lantz.
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. At least 778 stars will eventually be repaired or replaced during the ongoing project at an estimated cost of $4 million to $4.2 million.
The restoration is a collaboration among the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and various Los Angeles city and county governmental offices, along with the MTA, which operates the Metro Red Line that runs beneath the Walk, since earth movement due to the presence of the subway line is thought to be partly responsible for the damage.
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—Rooney has three of his own and a fourth with his eighth and final wife, Jan, while Rogers also has three of his own, and a fourth with his band, Sons of the Pioneers. Thirty-three people, including Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, Dean Martin, Dinah Shore, Gale Storm, Danny Kaye, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and Jack Benny, have stars in three categories.
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. Cher forfeited her opportunity by declining to schedule the mandatory personal appearance when she was selected in 1983. She did attend the unveiling of the Sonny & Cher star in 1998 as a tribute to her recently deceased ex-husband, Sonny Bono.George Eastman is the only honoree with two stars in the same category for the same achievement, the invention of roll film.In 1977, country singer Loretta Lynn was the first of her genre to receive a star on the Walk of Fame.
Some fans show respect for star recipients both living and dead by laying flowers or other symbolic tributes at their stars. Others show their support in other ways; the star awarded to Julio Iglesias, for example, is kept in “pristine condition [by] a devoted band of elderly women [who] scrub and polish it once a month”.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has adopted the tradition of placing flower wreaths at the stars of newly deceased awardees; for example Bette Davis in 1989, Katharine Hepburn in 2003, and Jackie Cooper in 2011.The stars of other deceased celebrities, such as Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Pryor, Ricardo Montalbán, James Doohan, Frank Sinatra, Robin Williams, Joan Rivers, George Harrison, and Aretha Franklin have become impromptu memorial and vigil sites as well, and some continue to receive anniversary remembrances.