Geek Trivia: Beyond the (Hollywood) stars

Who are the only persons ever to be commemorated on the Hollywood Walk of Fame without receiving a star?

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.


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By Jay Garmon

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger -- amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...