Hollywood Walk of Fame stars: Will Trump's be removed, when were they introduced and do celebrities really have to pay for them?

Regular vandalism of president's monument is becoming a costly burden to city council

Joe Sommerlad
Thursday 09 August 2018 11:28
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Donald Trump's Hollywood Walk of Fame star destroyed with pick axe

West Hollywood City Council has unanimously passed a resolution requesting the permanent removal of Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, according to Los Angeles city mayor John Duran.

The US president’s marble paving slab along Hollywood Boulevard was unveiled in 2007 at the height of his television fame as host of The Apprentice on NBC but has been repeatedly vandalised since the real estate magnate took up residence in the White House.

In a tweet, Mr Duran stated that the council have voted to put in the request with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

Repairs to the marker have become a semi-regular nuisance to the city – it has had a miniature wall built around it, ketchup smeared on it, a Bernie Sanders sticker placed on it and been smashed with a pickaxe - and cost between $3,000 (£2,300) and $10,000 (£7,700), depending on the severity of the damage.

The world famous Walk of Fame was inaugurated in 1958, and honours the leading lights of the American entertainment industry.

It covers 15 blocks of the boulevard from Gower Street to La Brea Avenue and a further three along Vine Street, and is one of Los Angeles’ most-visited landmarks, with tourists clamouring to seek out the stars of their favourite movie actors, singers and comedians.

Receiving a star actually involves the honoree themselves applying to the Chamber of Commerce, making the case for their inclusion and paying $30,000 (£23,000) to the Hollywood Historic Trust, part of which pays for its installation and maintenance.

The granting of the brass stars (or the decision not to) has occasionally proven controversial, however.

The likes of Charlie Chaplin and Paul Robeson were initially rejected because of their outspoken left-wing political views, before public outcry saw the ruling overturned and slabs placed in 1972 and 1979 respectively.

Johnny Grant, who chaired the Hollywood Walk of Fame Committee between 1968 and his death in 2008, maintained that: “Stars are awarded for professional achievement to the world of entertainment and contributions to the community. A celebrity’s politics, philosophy, irrational behaviour, or outrageous remarks have never been cause to remove a Walk of Fame star.”

When sexual harassment allegations against mogul Harvey Weinstein broke in autumn 2017, the subsequent #MeToo movement led to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce receiving a slew of enquiries about the possible removal of stars to celebrities subsequently accused of similar misdemeanours like Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey and the director Brett Ratner.

“The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has received enquiries asking whether we are planning to remove the stars of Walk of Famers because of alleged misconduct. The answer is no,” the body said in a press statement last November.

“The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a registered historic landmark. Once a star has been added to the Walk, it is considered a part of the historic fabric of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Because of this, we have never removed a star from the Walk.”

The word “rapist” was scrawled on Mr Cosby’s star in December 2014 but it was cleaned rather than taken away for good.

A number of other controversial public figures who have stars in place including Hugh Hefner, Charlie Sheen, Jeffrey Tambor and Roseanne Barr.

Among the most shocking is perhaps Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, the great silent comedian who was accused of the rape and manslaughter of starlet Virginia Rappe in 1921. However, the Arbuckle case is far from clear-cut and many believe the comic’s trial was biased by sensational coverage orchestrated by press baron William Randolph Hearst, seeking to discredit the studios and sell newspapers to a Christian right audience.

The removal of Donald Trump’s star would be the first in the Walk’s 60-year history, itself another ignominious milestone in the career of a widely unpopular president.

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