Hollywood's Walk of Fame gets makeover, new "star"

Tue Jul 22, 2008 4:07pm EDT
 
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hundreds of stars on Hollywood's "Walk of Fame" are to undergo a much-needed $4.2 million makeover to repair cracks and holes ahead of the 50th anniversary of the beloved tourist attraction.

They will also be joined by a newcomer -- Absolut Vodka -- which will get its own star plaque as the first corporate sponsor of the "Walk of Fame," a Hollywood business group said

on Tuesday.

Some 778 of the pink terrazzo and bronze star-shaped plaques along 2 1/2 miles of sidewalk in and around Hollywood Boulevard need replacing, the group said.

Many of them -- including those for "Dynasty" star Joan Collins, Humble Pie singer Peter Frampton, actors Walter Matthau and Burt Lancaster -- have been deemed potential safety hazards to pedestrians.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce said on Tuesday it hoped to raise about $4.2 million from private and public funds to restore the stars damaged by heat, subsidence and construction work.

"The founders of the Walk of Fame could not have imagined that the creation of a sidewalk of stars would become a top attraction that draws millions of visitors from around the world each year," said Leron Gubler, president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

"It is a treasured piece of Hollywood and it is our deeply felt responsibility to provide for its preservation into the future," Gubler said.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame began with a few demonstration stars in 1958 and was officially launched in November 1960. It now features 2,365 stars in the categories of television, radio, theater, movies and recording and is one of the top tourist draws in Los Angeles. Celebrities honored with a star are chosen by committee.

Absolut Vodka was the first company to become a "Friend of the Walk of Fame." The size of the company's contribution to the restoration program was not disclosed but it will be given an honorary star in front of the Kodak Theatre, which is home to the annual Oscars ceremony.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant, editing by Jackie Frank)