This Day In History: February 8

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An idea floated by a Hollywood business leader in 1953 comes to fruition on February 8, 1960, when construction begins on the Hollywood Walk of Fame—today one of the Los Angeles area’s main tourist attractions.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame’s history goes back to 1953, when E.M. Stuart, volunteer president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, proposed building the Walk as a means to “maintain the glory of a community whose name means glamour and excitement in the four corners of the world.” It’s not certain where Stuart got the inspiration for the idea, but some think it came from the historic Hollywood Hotel’s ceiling, which once had stars painted with the names of celebrities.

Stuart appointed an exploratory committee and hired architecture firm Periera & Luckman to develop proposals for what the Walk would look like. In January 1956, the Los Angeles City Council approved the idea. Leaders reviewed several concepts; one proposal, for brown and blue sidewalks with a caricature of the star, got nixed by a local businessman because it didn’t match a new building he was erecting.

The Chamber of Commerce established the Hollywood Improvement Association to work with the city to bring the Walk to fruition. In 1956 and 1957, the association appointed four committees from each sector of the entertainment business—motion picture, television, recording and radio—to select nominees for a Walk star. Suggestions from the public poured in, with as many as 150 names per week.

On August 15, 1958, the public got a sneak peek with the unveiling of eight stars on Hollywood Boulevard at Highland Avenue, to create excitement and preview the attraction. The first eight celebrities featured included Burt Lancaster, Olive Borden, Ronald Colman, Louise Fazenda, Preston Foster, Edward Sedgwick, Ernest Torrence and Joanne Woodward. Construction was expected to begin right away, but it didn’t start for nearly a year and a half.

The first star laid in the new Walk, near the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Gower Street, honored producer and director Stanley Kramer. The Walk was dedicated on November 23, 1960, to coincide with the Hollywood Christmas Parade. After the Board of Public Works accepted the completed project, the first 1,558 stars were unveiled in the spring of 1961.

It wasn’t until December 11, 1968 that the next star appeared—for producer Richard D. Zanuck—because the chamber had to work out numerous logistics and rules about how to select candidates and pay for the expansion.

After the Zanuck ceremony, unveiling ceremonies for new stars have been held regularly. Today, an average of two stars are added to the Hollywood Walk of Fame every month. As of 2023, the Walk has more than 2,700 stars.