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Hollywood Walk of Fame and History and Photos

Concept of Walk of Fame

Without question, the Hollywood Walk of Fame is Hollywood's most popular tourist attraction. Started about 55 years ago, the Hollywood walk of fame has become Hollywood’s most popular attraction.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce credits E.M. Stuart, it's president in 1953, with the original concept for creating a Hollywood Walk of Fame. Stuart, normally called Mac, proposed the Walk of Fame as a means to maintain the glory of a community whose name means glamour and excitement in the four corners of the world.  Harry Sugarman, another Chamber member and president of the Hollywood Improvement Association, incorrectly received credit for the concept.

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In February 1956, a prototype was unveiled which included example of a blue star on a brown background. It was realized that such an example would be difficult to execute in brass and it is reported that the brown and blue motif was vetoed by Charles E. Toberman, the legendary real estate developer known as Mr. Hollywood, because the colors clashed with a new building he was constructing on the north west corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue.

By March 1956, the final design with a charcoal and coral color scheme had been approved, and by 1957, 1558 honorees were selected by a committee representing the four major fields of the entertainment business at the time: television, motion pictures, audio recording, and radio.

Building The Walk of Fame

Construction of the Hollywood Walk of Fame began in 1958 but apparently was delayed due to two lawsuits. The first was brought about by local property owners who challenged the legality of the $1.25 million tax assessment levied upon them to pay for the construction of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In October 1959, the assessment was ruled legal. The second lawsuit was filed by Charles Chaplin Jr. who sought damages for the exclusion of his father, whose nomination had been withdrawn due to pressure from multiple sources. This lawsuit was dismissed in 1960, paving the way for completion of the project. When the contract, for the Walk of Fame was to be signed, actress, Jayme Mansfield was present as a way to publicize the event.  Photos of Jayne Mansfield at the signing are on the hollywoodphotographs.com website.

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In 1958, the construction of a 12 story office building on the north west corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue was nearing completion. The sidewalk on the south and east side of the building had not been constructed. It was determined that the first eight stars of the Hollywood Walk of Fame should be installed in the sidewalk on the two sides of the new building. In August, 1958 several Hollywood civic leaders, including Charles E. Toberman, gathered with actress, Dorothy Malone and actor, Preston Foster to participate in an unofficial groundbreaking ceremony for the installation of the first eight stars in the Hollywood Walk of Fame. They all posed for photographs while holding a brass star. Rare photos of this event can be seen on hollywoodphotographs.com.

First Walk of Fame Stars

After a few short weeks of construction, the installation of the first eight Hollywood Walk of Fame stars was completed. A few days later, Charles E Toberman, Harry Sugarman, and actress, Joanne Woodward gathered at the newly constructed Hollywood Walk of Fame sidewalk so that Joanne Woodward could pose by her Hollywood Walk of Fame star. Unfortunately none of the other seven celebrities were able to attend this dedication ceremony. The names of the other seven celebrities whose stars were placed in the Hollywood Walk of Fame included Olive Borden, Ronald Coleman, Louise Fazenda, Preston Foster, Burt Lancaster, Edward Sedgwick and Ernest Torrence.

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Groundbreaking

The official groundbreaking of the Hollywood Walk of Fame took place on February 8, 1960 near the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Gower Street. Several celebrities were in attendance including Gigi Perreau, Charles Coburn,  Francis X Bushman and Linda Darnell.  After the groundbreaking ceremony, construction was begun and by mid-1961, 1558 stars were installed in the terrazzo sidewalk.

For several years, the installation of new stars, did not gain much attention.  It wasn't long before the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce began making the dedication of new stars,  a major attraction. Since the installation of the first 1558 stars, there have been more than 1000 celebrity stars added to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce holds about a dozen dedication ceremonies each year and hundreds of fans show up for the event. Some of the most attended dedication ceremonies were for Michael Jackson, Julie Andrews, James Caan and George Burns.

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It should be pointed out, that the controversies surrounding the inclusion of Charles Chaplin's star in the Hollywood walk of fame came to an end in 1972. Even though Charles Chaplin was unable to attend, Chaplin's granddaughter Susan Maree Chaplin attended the ceremony.

Vintage Hollywood Images

The largest collection of Hollywood Walk of Fame photos is on the hollywoodphotographs.com website.  All the photos are available for purchase.

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