The City of Angels has no shortage of celebrities. For David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA students looking to walk among the stars, head to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. These public sidewalks are dedicated to elite performers from all eras.
This is a tourist activity with a lot of bang for the buck, considering that there's no cost to walk these famed Hollywood streets. The Hollywood Walk of Fame runs 1.3 miles along Hollywood Boulevard, from La Brea Avenue to Gower Street, and 0.4 miles on Vine Street, from Sunset Boulevard to Yucca Street. It's not a short distance to cover, with more than 2,600 stars on both sides of the street. It's open at all hours, though some sections may be closed during major award shows and premieres, because the attraction is literally sidewalks with embedded stars.
The walk opened in 1960, about five years after the idea was conceived. Two of the first honorees were Joanne Woodward and Burt Lancaster. Each year, new celebrities are honored, with 20 to 24 chosen annually by committee, including one posthumous award per year. You can find stars for Carol Burnett, Charlie Chaplin, Sophia Loren, Woody Woodpecker, John Lennon, Jennifer Lopez, Drew Barrymore, Bob Marley, Matthew McConaughey, Matt Groening, Elton John and more.
The Walk of Fame divides the honorees into five categories: motion pictures, television, recording, radio and live theater/live performance. To be awarded, the stars must show longevity in that field for at least five years.
Anyone can nominate a star, chosen by the committee each June. The person nominated must agree to participate in the ceremony within five years of selection, sending a letter to that regard to accompany the application. While it's an honor to be included, there's a cost involved. The person nominating the star must agree to arrange payment of $40,000 if selected (that includes installation, the ceremony and Walk of Fame maintenance). The committee receives about 200 applications per year, and those not chosen are considered in upcoming years as well.
Plan ahead and you can watch one of the annual star ceremonies in person. They're free and open to the public. The Hollywood Walk of Fame website lists upcoming ceremonies, which start at 11:30 am and last 45 minutes. The 2017 Walk of Fame class includes Amy Adams, Ryan Reynolds, Mark Ruffalo, Rita Wilson, Dwayne Johnson, Criss Angel, Hall and Oates, John Legend, New Edition, Tyra Banks, Wolfgang Puck, Sarah Silverman and Jeffrey Tambor.
If you want photos of the embedded stars or unobstructed views of the street, go early in the day, especially in high season. It's a popular place. You'll notice that the pink terrazzo and brass stars don't all face the same direction. That's on purpose, so you can see stars no matter which way you're walking.
Don't forget to look up while star searching. You may pass by the Grauman's Chinese Theater, the highly decorative pagoda-style movie theater now showing IMAX films, and the home of several Academy Award ceremonies in the 1940s. At the entrance, look for famous handprints and footprints in the cement. Close by is the Dolby Theatre, formerly known as the Kodak Theatre, the current home of the Academy Awards ceremony and a concert venue seating more than 3,300 people the rest of the year.
By Deborah Abrams Kaplan