To hear the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce tell it, receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is equivalent to receiving an Oscar, Tony, Emmy, or Grammy (once again, no love for the Eisners, Nebulas, or Hugos). The iconic stars, which are embedded in sidewalks near Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street in Hollywood, CA, are ostensibly awarded to individuals who have made distinctive and significant contributions to the entertainment industry.

And yet, somehow, Britney Spears has one.

In fact, Miss Britney is tied with Little House on the Prairie actress Melissa Gilbert for the youngest performer ever to receive a star on the Walk of Fame. Both received theirs at 21 years of age, somehow amassing a sufficient portfolio of accomplishments by that tender age to qualify for eternal enshrinement in a monument the ostensible equal of the major awards in each respective field of performance. Spears’ star is inlaid with a small phonograph icon, while Gilbert’s has a television set, so that future generations might comprehend in which media these two titans of entertainment made their marks.

The open secret of the Walk of Fame is that, even though the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce votes for each star, the cost associated with installing a star is a cool $25,000 — paid for by someone other than the Chamber of Commerce. Record labels and production studios often arrange for their talent to receive stars as part of publicity campaigns, which is why you’ll often notice famous singers or actors receiving a star just before a major album or movie release. Back when the cost was a mere $3,000, individual fan clubs often raised that amount, but such efforts have been generally priced out of the reach of many performers’ fandom-based resources.

That is not to say there aren’t plenty of legitimate entrants on the Walk of Fame. In fact, some of the most deserving are those that garner the most publicity. While the Walk of Fame has a number of accepted conventions, it often breaks these rules for the benefit of the most exceptional celebrities, both to garner more publicity and to burnish the Walk’s credentials as a legitimate honor. Case in point: The only persons ever to be enshrined on the Walk of Fame without receiving a star — celebrities by any definition, and historic beyond all doubt.

WHO ARE THE ONLY PERSONS EVER TO BE COMMEMORATED ON THE HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME WITHOUT RECEIVING A STAR?

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Who are the only persons to be enshrined in the Hollywood Walk of Fame without receiving a star — a historic group that, while undoubtedly celebrities, are far from the conventional television or movie stars you’ll typically find enshrined in the Walk?

The crew of Apollo 11 — Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins — are honored not with a star, but a moon on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Beyond the fact that Aldrin and Armstrong were the first human beings to walk on the moon, they along with Collins (who remained in lunar orbit) were the first “production crew” to mount television broadcasts from the surface of a celestial object other than good old Earth. Thus, the TV set icon atop the listed names in the moon monument.

On the subject of inset icons, there are five main categories of members on the Walk of Fame:

  • Live theater, marked by twin comedy and tragedy mask icons
  • Motion pictures, marked by a classic two-reel movie camera icon
  • Broadcast radio, marked by a microphone icon
  • Recording arts, marked by a phonograph icon
  • Television, marked by a small TV set icon (complete with antennae)

This, of course, is not an all-inclusive list of icons. Disneyland has its own star, which is marked with a building icon; television station KTLA in Los Angeles has a star marked with a satellite dish icon; and former Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley has a star bearing the seal of the city of Los Angeles. (Bradley, by the way, had his ceremony officiated by the late Johnny Grant, the honorary mayor of Hollywood. As a neighborhood rather than a city, Hollywood doesn’t have an actual mayor, just a celebrity spokesperson.)

In fact, even though it’s called the Walk of Fame, not all the stars are on the sidewalk. Muhammad Ali’s star is mounted into the wall of the Kodak Theatre. Ali’s star was unveiled in 2002, just before his biopic — in which the iconic boxer was portrayed by Will Smith — debuted, and was mounted into the building that hosted the 2002 Academy Awards ceremony, where that same biopic was vying for an Oscar.

Still, just because there are so many unconventional celebrities enshrined in the Walk of Fame’s 2,000-plus stars, don’t think that every deserving individual has received one. To cite but one example, Walter Koenig is the only member of the original lead cast of Star Trek not to receive a star. Of course, since his character — Pavel Chekov — appears in the upcoming theatrical reboot of Star Trek, maybe Paramount will complete the original cast set as part of the publicity push.

Some overdue love for Koenig wouldn’t be mere motion-picture magnanimity, but some promotionally appropriate Geek Trivia.

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