First John Wayne's footprints go missing, and now this?
No, no one has tried to pull a Lucy and Ethel on the Hollywood Walk of Fame by pilfering Clark Gable and Cary Grant's loose stars from the sidewalk. Instead, the celestially minded honors belonging to those A-listers of another era and 59 others have been temporarily removed to allow for a $500 million construction project near the iconic intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street.
So, while Webcor Builders, in connection with the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency, is toiling away on a new W Hotel, apartments, condos and high-end shops, Jane Wyman, Charlton Heston, Frank Sinatra, Donna Reed, Gable and Grant will be cooling their heels in a climate-controlled warehouse in downtown Los Angeles until at least 2009, leaving a blank spot in the 1600 block of Vine.
And although people will inevitably complain about missed photo opportunities, lost heritage and gentrification, the city is working to ensure critics that this project is only intended to help the community. Not to mention the stars themselves, some of which were in need of repair anyway.
"People really do focus on this," Ana Martinez-Holler, VP of media relations for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, told E! Online. "But this is actually a good thing for us, because they need to be redone. The most important part [of the star] is the brass. Those that have been repaired, we make sure that they preserve the past."
"The brass" refers to the personality's name and the emblem—be it a camera, a microphone, etc.—embedded in the star.
The sidewalk, as well, is in need of repair, Martinez-Holler said. As part of the redevelopment project, the existing pavement will be leveled out and the stars will be able to rest on a flatter surface.
Martinez-Holler said that she expects the city to get its share of phone calls, as it did when the Metro Red Line subway tunneled into the area in 1994 and people called to ask about the well-being and whereabouts of certain stars, including a very concerned reporter who wondered if Sinatra—who has three stars, actually—was going to be okay.
In this case, the six-inch-thick terrazzo panels were cut out of the ground and placed in custom-built storage boxes.
But even though the slabs were handled with care, eight of them crumbled—the brass was saved, of course—and will need to be rebuilt.
In February, a few weeks before the Academy Awards, the city sent an emergency crew to smooth out a 60-foot stretch of the star-covered sidewalk that was buckling right in front of the Kodak Theater, where the Oscar ceremony takes place. Sixteen terrazzo star panels had to be replaced.
While many have blamed the rail line expansion for Hollywood Blvd.'s pervasive sidewalk troubles, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has said that the sun, which may have caused the terrazzo to "thermo-expand," is at fault.
Also earlier this year, Hollywood announced that it was jacking up the price of acquiring a star—to $25,000 per celebrity—to help absorb the cost of future Walk of Fame repairs. The landmark is operated by the nonprofit Hollywood Historic Trust.
And in the meantime, while his recording and motion picture stars are in storage, you can check out Ol' Blue Eyes' other star, for television, around the corner.