After Navy service in the Korean War, I worked for a now-long-gone daily newspaper, the Beverly Hills Citizen, and often did assignments in the neighboring town of Hollywood. In the many decades since, it hasn’t changed very much. Strolling along Hollywood Boulevard today, you can still see the familiar tourist shops, theaters, nightclubs, restaurants, costumed panhandlers and throngs of gawking tourists.
What’s different today from the 1950s is the Hollywood Walk of Fame, consisting of nearly 2,500 star-shaped designs with brass plaques embedded in the sidewalks. They honor actors, musicians, authors, directors and others of the entertainment industry. The Walk was officially started in 1960, and new plaques are added frequently.
In addition to covering news events way back then, I met many stars of the time at social functions, premieres, awards ceremonies and other events. Like most fans, I had my favorites, and one of my first ventures when I returned recently after so many years away was to wander along Hollywood Boulevard. I wanted to seek out the Walk of Fame plaques of those stars I fondly remembered. Just a few examples are:
Errol Flynn: The sidewalk plaque of the swashbuckling hero of 1930s and 1940s adventure movies is in front of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Boulevard. An appropriate location, because Errol was notorious for his hyperactive in-like-Flynn love life, and was rumored to have had many midnight trysts in the hotel.
Nat “King” Cole: The star honoring the smooth crooner of the 1950s and 1960s is near Musso & Frank Grill, 6667 Hollywood Boulevard, a favorite hangout of show biz personalities since the 1930s. It’s still a great place to do lunch and spot a current celebrity or two.
Sammy Davis, Jr.: I paused in front of the posh W Hotel, 6250 Hollywood Boulevard, to remember the great singer-dancer. A fond memory was seeing him perform live in Las Vegas in the 1950s, when he was a member of the famous Rat Pack, along with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop.
Mel Brooks and Sylvester Stallone: They never made a movie together, but they’re two of my all-time favorites. Their stars are both in front of the Egyptian Theater, 6712 Hollywood Boulevard, where glittering movie premieres are still celebrated. After a combined century in show biz, fortunately for their many fans, both Mel and Sly are still active.
Frank Sinatra: His star is near the corner of Hollywood and Vine, by the Hollywood Plaza Apartments. It’s now a government-subsidized senior community, and many occupants are elderly women. Could they have been giddy bobbysoxers swooning back in the 1940s when Frankie was crooning from the stage of New York’s Paramount Theater?