The Only Star You Can’t Step On At The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

The Hollywood Walk of Fame is undoubtedly the most famous sidewalk in the world — and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Los Angeles. It features over 2,500 terrazzo and brass stars along 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street (via Discover Los Angeles). Some sources claim the Hollywood Walk of Fame was inspired by the Hollywood Hotel, where they had painted celebrities’ names on the dining room ceiling (via Hollywood Walk of Fame).

The attraction was idealized in the late 1950s by business leaders in Hollywood. The original plan would include a caricature of the honoree on a brown and blue sidewalk.

The first celebrity to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was the Academy-Award-winner Joanne Woodward, famous for “The Three Faces of Eve,” at a groundbreaking ceremony on February 9, 1960 (via History). After the official ceremony, the construction continued for 16 months, and over 1,500 stars were added.

The most famous sidewalk in the world became a landmark in 1978, and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce administrates it. The Hollywood Walk of Fame receives nearly 10 million tourists every year. Still, despite its international fame, the attraction was named “Worst Tourist Attraction in the World” in 2019 (via CBS Los Angeles).

One star is different from the rest

In 2002, the iconic boxer Muhammad Ali was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. However, his star was not like the others. For the first time, a star was not placed on the sidewalk, but instead, it now adorns a wall at the Kodak Theater entertainment complex. During the ceremony, Ali said that he didn’t want people who don’t respect him to step on his name. But there was also another reason.

According to the Independent, Ali said that he bears “the name of our Beloved Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), and it is impossible that I allow people to trample over his name.”

Ali was known as “The Greatest of All Time due to his unique career achievements. He won the heavyweight title three times. The first title was in 1964 when he defeated Sonny Liston and became the youngest boxer to defeat a heavyweight champion. Ali changed boxing with his unique style that combined speed and strength (via Rolling Stone).

The boxer also led a revolution outside the ring. In 1964, Ali announced that he would leave his “slave name” Cassius Clay behind. According to the Independent, the boxer said, “I am Muhammad Ali, a free name — it means beloved of God, and I insist people use it when people speak to me.”

Ali was also a pioneer in the antiwar movement. In 1966, he called upon his constitutional right to decline military service as a conscientious objector. “I ain’t got nothing against them Vietcong,” he said. “How can I shoot those poor people? Just take me to jail.”

How the stars are nominated

The first step to get the star is receiving a nomination, according to AJC. Anyone can start the process, including a fan. The Walk of Fame Committee receives approximately 300 nominations per year, and they choose around 30 names.

The Walk of Fame ceremonies happen throughout the year, and anyone can attend for free. People who can’t participate can watch it online since it is broadcasted on their official website. They also update the public about the new star and the upcoming ceremonies (via Walk of Fame).

Nominees have to commit to attending the ceremony. It is a strict rule created after the singer Bruce Springsteen never set a date for his ceremony and ultimately declined his star. According to Today, it is jokingly called the “Springsteen Policy.”

Turning down a star is surprisingly common. Clint Eastwood, Madonna, and Geoge Clooney are some names who had declined the honor. Some nominees never set a date for the ceremony, including George Clooney, Denzel Washington, and John Denver. Other celebrities, such as Clint Eastwood, just turned down the opportunity altogether.

Although celebrities don’t pay for the nomination, having a star installed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame comes with a price. According to Mashable, celebrities pay $40,000 to install the star, as well as cover its maintenance.

The Walk of Fame has had an interesting history

In 1994, the construction of a subway demanded a dramatic change on the Walk of Fame, and 450 stars had to be temporarily removed, including Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Walt Disney, Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Gene Kelly, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Charlie Chaplin, according to Mental Floss.

In 2005, Gregory Peck’s star was stolen from the sidewalk. Although it isn’t common, it was not the first time it happened. According to The Guardian, stars honoring Jimmy Stewart, Kirk Douglas, and Gene Autry have also disappeared.

Tourists can also find fictional characters, such as Godzilla and The Muppets, on the Walk of Fame. Mickey Mouse was the first cartoon to receive the honor in 1978.

Celebrities are allowed to have more than one star if they have significant achievements in different categories. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Mickey Rooney are some examples of people with multiple stars on the Walk of Fame.

There are two stars with Harrison Ford’s name — however, they are not the same person. One of them honors a silent movie actor, and the star was placed in 1960. The “Indiana Jones” star received his star years later, in 2003.

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