Walk among the stars

Singer Gwen Stefani gives a speech during her “Walk of Fame” ceremony in Hollywood on Oct. 19, 2023. Photo by Benjamin Hanson.

It was 11:30 a.m., on a recent, radiant Thursday morning on Hollywood Boulevard, as throngs of fans gathered behind metal fences to get a glimpse of their queen bee—singer Gwen Stefani—for a taste of the nectar known as stardom.

Shouts of “You did it!” and “I love you!” resonated from the crowd.

Faithful fans had lined up for hours to see California girl Stefani wearing her signature platinum blond ponytail and a long-sleeved mini-dress adorned with cut-out stars.

The singer began to cry as she listened to her husband, country singer Blake Shelton, praise her for being a great mother to her three sons. It is a family affair shared with the world, and it all began with a dream.

Stefani is celebrity number 2,764 to earn a star on “The Walk of Fame,” which primarily runs 15 blocks down Hollywood Boulevard, from Gower Street to La Brea Avenue. It began with actor Joanne Woodward in 1957.

Leonard Macadoo, Supervisor at SPEC, passes out signed magazines at the unveiling of Gwen Stefani’s star on Hollywood Walk of Fame on Oct. 19, 2023 in Hollywood Calif. on Hollywood Boulevard next to Amoeba Music. Photo by Rachael Rosenberg.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce oversees “The Walk of Fame” which plays an influential role in Los Angeles. Their committee gathers periodically to decide recipients, schedule ceremonies and handle overall administration.

CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Ana Martinez scouts sites before selecting a spot for the future star.

“When I walk down the street looking for a location, it brings back a lot of memories of the ceremonies,” Martinez said.

Martinez said she focuses on providing an enjoyable time for both the stars being honored and their fans. It makes her job more fulfilling.

“Celebrities are human beings just like you and me, and I want to give them a good experience, give the fans a good experience. That’s what helps me with my job,” Martinez said.

Martinez said the process begins with different media organizations nominating actors, singers and other entertainers. The committee meets in June to vote, and if someone is chosen to receive a star, they are contacted to see if they will accept the honor. In almost all cases, if they are living, they must agree to attend a reception ceremony in person.

Martinez said there is a sponsorship fee to be part of “The Walk of Fame,” and most of the money collected goes to the Hollywood Historic Trust.

“People think that you can just buy a star, but you can not,” she said. “We get hundreds of applications, and we only pick about 30 a year.” 

Much of the sponsorship fee goes into maintaining the star and the rest goes to the Chamber, which is used for the production of the event, including hiring private companies and the Los Angeles Police Department for security.

“This is a free event that we are offering for people to come and see, 

and we are paying for it through the sponsorship of the honoree,” she said.

People walk by Nunnally Johnson’s star while attending Gwen Stefani’s “Walk of Fame” ceremony in Hollywood on Oct. 19, 2023. Photo by Benjamin Hanson.

Former CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Leon Gubler said that Los Angeles likes to be first on things, and he believes “The Walk of Fame” was the first in the world to be created.

“It is considered one of the main entertainment industry awards given and it is covered all around the world, so all of those factors make it part of LA’s culture,” said Gubler, who wrote the book “The Walk of Dreams.” Former “Walk of Fame” Chair Johnny Grant intended to write a book, but he never did.

“So, I wanted to write this book to also tell about him,” Gubler said about Grant. “He had participated in 600 ceremonies and emceed 300, and he had heard very insightful stories about how celebrities had their start in Hollywood.”

Gubler said in his research he found a common denominator. The majority of the honorees started from humble beginnings and faced many hardships before earning recognition in their field.

“Most of them started from nothing,” Gubler said. “Adversity and their speeches were very inspiring. I thought these stories need to be shared.”

Gubler recommended that people think of “The Walk of Fame” as a source of influence to dream about the possibilities of their path to a successful life.

“Tell them to take inspiration from ‘The Walk of Fame,’ walk around the boulevard, and let your dreams go wild,” he said. “The sky is the limit, absolutely.”

Gubler has collected many memories of working at the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, but the one that stands out is the dedication of the subway line to Hollywood. It helped bring back the boulevard when it needed it the most.

“When people said we could never do it,” Gubler said. “To me, it was very rewarding and turned around this historic community.”

Darnell Gill, a tour guide for “We Love LA Tours,” has worked in many capacities as a performer and a private driver for the stars. He said Hollywood draws in so much attention because of the attractions it has to offer, including “The Walk of Fame.”

“The tourists come to say they have been here at least to take a picture with their favorite star on the Boulevard,” Gill said. “They come from all corners of the world to Los Angeles.”

Gill said that LA residents should support “The Walk of Fame” because it is part of our city.

“Because it is a landmark, it is Hollywood,” he said.