Seeing a celebrity is a rush. Sometimes it results in a squeal, a quick dance, a dash for paper and a pen. Often whispers fill the air, murmurs of “Is it really?”…“No way”…”It is.” I remember as a young little leaguer I got to meet Nolan Ryan, one of the best pitchers of my day, and when I approached him, my voice disappeared. I just stared with a napkin and pen in my hand until my mother chimed in to ask for an autograph. Hell, I’ve even heard of celebrities being star-struck. Fame does funny things to us, both the famous and the layperson.
So, standing on Hollywood Boulevard feels electric because this is where the stars are, in more ways than one. Dating back to the 1950s, the top achievers in the entertainment industry have been honored by receiving stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which now stretches nearly twenty blocks and has about 2500 stars to peruse. And, I can attest, it’s just about as fun to find the stars of those stars you love as it is to see them in person—the benefit being the versions on the Hollywood Walk of Fame will pose as long as you like, as well as willingly let you touch and praise and gush over them.
In Your Bucket Because…
- Umm…Who doesn’t watch movies and TV and/or listen to radio? It’s a small, maybe meaningless, but magical experience finding your favorite stars on the Hollywood Walk. This stretch of street is iconic!
- There is always the off-chance, the faint and exciting hope, of bumping into someone famous, and that’s something fun to get caught up in for a couple of hours.
- Good for: Movie and music fans (or just about everyone), families, sun-lovers, and those in or around LA—why would you miss out?
Walking on Hollywood
My mother moved to California in the 90s, so I’ve visited LA and the Hollywood Walk of Fame several times now. Lucky for me, I’ve been able to do it as a wide-eyed kid, a grumpy teenager, an adult, and ultimately a host for my wife. In other words, I’ve gotten many of the different experiences it offers. As a kid, you would have thought I was meeting Nolan Ryan: A top-ranking Rocky fan, I just couldn’t believe I was seeing Sylvester Stallone’s name. The next time, I’d moved on to The Doors, and on it went with someone new to admire each visit. Then, it was just as fun watching my wife dance between John Wayne and Audrey Hepburn.
What’s more is that the area itself is fun. There are the stars to see, which is the point of the walk, but Hollywood Blvd. is full of funky souvenir shops and people properly hamming it up. Outside the Chinese Theater, you can compare your feet and hands to the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’ve been offered the chance to be on The Price is Right, to watch a filming of Save by the Bell, and walked where the stars would for the Oscars, just a couple of days before the show. I’ve posed next to Gladiators and Darth Vader. Oh, and there’s the sign—the Hollywood sign off in the distance, almost like seeing a star in its own right.
A Few Facts for the Walk
One way to always up an experience is to know a little bit extra about a place. It’s easy enough to appreciate the spectacle of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and most of us already have a pretty decent knowledge of our favorite performers. However, Hollywood Blvd. almost yields itself to treasure hunt-like exploration. Here are a few tidbits to include:
- Check out this Wikipedia list of all the stars on The Walk and the exact address to find them. It’s a lot easier to find your favorites if there is some general idea of where to look.
- There are five different types of stars: an old film camera for movies, a TV for television broadcasts, a record for music, a radio mic for broadcast radio, and two masks for live performance. Movies represent nearly 50% of the stars and live performance a mere 2%.
- The first star installed permanently was director Stanley Kramer (It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner) near the Gower St. intersection, at the east end of The Walk.
- Gene Autry, aka the Singing Cowboy, is the only person to have stars in all five categories, so it seems worth finding them all, yes?
- There are fourteen Williamses (the most common surname), two Michael Jacksons (but only one for the singer/dancer), two Harrison Fords (but only one for Indiana Jones), and the Barrymore family has the most of any one family (John, Lionel (2 stars), Ethel, Sidney Drew, John Drew, and Drew).
- There’s a great vibe just outside the most touristic areas: cool second-hand shops, green Mohawks, and fun stuff like that.
- If you aren’t staying nearby, be prepared for the insanity of LA traffic, rivaled only by Houston’s in my opinion, but with a lot more ground to cover. It’s taken several hours to drive back to my mom’s place in Orange County. So, use the train if you are staying near Disneyland.
- There are lots of other great things to see and do around Hollywood Blvd.: Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills, home of the stars tours, and famous spots like the Whiskey a Go Go and the Viper Room. It’s worth it to combine, especially if you are braving the Interstate.