Anyone who’s anyone in film, music or TV almost certainly has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Indeed, inclusion on the celebrated spot on Hollywood Boulevard is perhaps the greatest sign of respect within the entertainment industry. But, surprisingly, there are some big names who’ve declined a place on the famous landmark because of one bizarre reason…
The idea for the Walk of Fame came in 1953 from one E.M. Stuart, then president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Inspired by his home town’s history in entertainment, Stuart proposed a landmark that would “maintain the glory of a community whose name means glamour and excitement in the four corners of the world.”
After a lengthy gestation period, then, construction of the Walk started seven years later in February 1960. And Stuart’s dream was born just one month after that, when film director Stanley Kramer became the first recipient of a star.
Since its humble origins, moreover, the Walk of Fame has exploded in popularity. In fact, it’s one of California’s biggest tourist draws. Presently, the spot is home to over 2,500 stars and attracts around ten million visitors annually.
But while these sightseers may enjoy seeing their favorite stars immortalized in marble, we doubt that many know the vigorous process that goes into approving each honoree. Indeed, the method is actually a little more complicated than most people would believe.
Originally, recipients of the award were selected solely by a committee of the industry’s biggest and brightest. And though a similar process is still in use today, there exist a few notable changes that somewhat shroud the experience in red tape.
In order for a celeb to be even considered, for example, they must first receive a nomination from an outside party. Then, the celebrity’s management has to persuade the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce of its client’s viability for inclusion. And that’s assuming that the client even accepts the nomination, that is.
Because of the honor’s lengthy application process, then, some stars have perhaps declined a star on the Walk of Fame. Despite 60 years in the business and a spot in permanent reservation, for example, Clint Eastwood has repeatedly turned one down.
In addition to classic Hollywood titans, younger industry stalwarts remain unrepresented on the Walk, too. For example, pals Brad Pitt and George Clooney may rake in critical and commercial success, but their on-screen ubiquity hasn’t yet translated to a star on Hollywood Boulevard.
Granted, application processes can often be a messy business, but it seems like an overly flippant reason to turn down a Hollywood star. However, the initial appeal is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Walk of Fame. Indeed, the bureaucracy doesn’t end just by filling out a few forms.
Upon accepting their nomination, for example, recipients have to agree upon attending the ceremony in person. If they don’t, their star won’t be laid. Although this doesn’t sound too taxing for those with regular jobs, the irregular working patterns of Hollywood actors makes planning ahead a little trickier.
And after complying to attend a presentation ceremony inside five years of election, the recipients then face a fee. But this isn’t your average administration charge. In fact, each awardee has to hand over the hefty sum of $30,000.
For many Hollywood stars, $30,000 seems like small change. Traditionally, however, this fee is usually paid by the nominating party, rather than the celeb in question. As a result, then, fundraising can be long and difficult, with some fans using unorthodox methods to gather the cash. For instance, members of Liza Minnelli’s fan club held a bake sale in honor of their heroine.
According to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, half of the fee is used to create the star while the rest is spent on upkeep. This includes general repairs of the spot as well as more rigorous work in cases of vandalism – as with Donald Trump’s star in 2016.
With all this in mind, then, it becomes easier to understand why certain celebs turn down the offer. Moreover, declining a spot on the Walk of Fame is a surprisingly common practice, and the list of big-name stars who’ve refused a spot is ever growing.
For example, Julia Roberts has declined the offer, repeatedly stating that she simply isn’t bothered about having a star. Meanwhile, Denzel Washington initially agreed to a star but never managed to arrange a ceremony date within the five-year window.
Other celebs to decline a star include Al Pacino, Angelina Jolie and Robert Downey Jr. And some – though not adverse to the ceremony or fee – will only agree under special caveats. For instance, Muhammad Ali demanded that his star be placed on a wall to stop people walking over his name.
Throughout its existence, moreover, the Hollywood Walk of Fame has come under criticism for its election process. In fact, the spot stirred controversy even before a single star was laid. Specifically, the Chamber of Commerce was sued in 1959 by Charlie Chaplin Jr. for denying his father – then banned from the U.S. – an initial place on the future landmark.
More recently, in 2016, fans mourning the loss of Prince were outraged after discovering the “Purple Rain” singer didn’t have a star. Later, it was revealed that the musician hadn’t even been considered for a spot. The reason? He hadn’t received a single nomination. In response, one ardent fan graffitied “Prince” onto a vacant star.
In the meantime, the Hollywood Walk of Fame is undoubtedly set to weather its controversies. After all, given that around 300 applications continue to come in a year, fans and well-wishers are apparently still eager to see their favorite star’s name in marble. And while its application process may be unusual, it nonetheless remains one of Hollywood’s most iconic attractions.