Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Thieves on the Walk of Fame

There was a famous episode of "I Love Lucy" where Lucy and Ethyl go to Grauman's Chinese theater and attempt to steal John Wayne's handprints.

They actually get the slab of cement out of the ground, but I think they put it back at the end. Then Lucy meets John Wayne, Ethyl call Fred "fat," he calls her "old," Ricky shouts in Spanish and Lucy begs him to let her be in the show. At least that's what I remember.

In real life, stealing John Wayne’s handprints (or any of the Chinese Theater slabs) would be pretty hard to do. The theater forecourt is lit up through the night with pretty adequate security.

This hasn't always been the case.

Both Charlie Chaplin's and Edward Purdom's squares have vanished from the Chinese Forecourt. It is assumed that management removed both, but others theorize that (at least) Chaplin's was stolen.

First let’s discuss Edward Purdom. He was a minor star who was awarded the honor of placing his hand and foot prints in the cement with the opening of his film The Egyptian. Many felt that he was undeserving of the honor, a fact compounded by his scandalous affair with Tyrone Power's wife. At some point after his hand prints and foot prints were placed they were removed by management. Yul Brenner's prints occupy the space today. In fact, the theater briefly toyed with marketing the slogan "Yul never miss the Power."

Chaplin is a little more interesting. Many believed him to be a communist and during the height of the McCarthy hearings his square was routinely defaced. Then one day his square disappeared or was cemented over.

Today security is so tight that even if these slabs WERE stolen it is very unlikely that this could happen again.

The Walk of Fame is a different story. Running almost 3 miles up Hollywood Blvd and Vine Street the Walk is a lot harder to protect. Most of it is been covered with security cameras, but not every block. Like any side walk, it occasionally chips and cracks and it is not rare to find a small piece of one of the stars dislodged. In fact, very often that you pass a star with the center emblem missing. The emblems represent film, TV, radio, etc and are taken out by vandals with a chisel.

Chisel Toting Vandals would be a good name for a rock band. Feel free to steal that, too ya hooligans.

So, some pieces of the Walk of Fame are lifted on an almost daily basis. But an ENTIRE STAR?? This is a pretty difficult thing to steal. After all, it's one of the busiest pedestrian areas in Los Angeles giving a thief little time to pry up and some how walk away with a few hundred pounds of sidewalk.

It seems really, really hard to do.

But, it has been done.

Gregory Peck's star vanished sometime around November 22, 2005. This was the 4th star to ENTIRELY disappear. Two of the others (Kirk Douglas and Jimmy Stewart) were both stolen during a construction project and later recovered. One of Gene Autry's five stars was stolen and NEVER found.

Peck's star has already been replaced and a photo has been released of the new star, Honorary Mayor Johnny Grant and 2 LAPD officers.

I love this photo. Johnny is gesturing "I dunno" as the two cops look like my dentist (left) and Ray Romano (center.)

I wish you all had seen my dentist. You would probably have laughed more. I also wish you had never seen Ray Romano. You would have probably laughed exactly the same amount.

The Walk of Fame stars are not as "personal" as the Chinese Theater slabs. No handprints or footprints and they can even be awarded to those who have passed away.

They get worn over time and are often replaced when they get damaged. For example, recently Rod Stewart and many other notable stars were replaced with brand new stars in the high traffic area of Hollywood and Highland.

In conclusion, I would like to state that I was not in Hollywood on November 22, 2005, I was not ALIVE for the Charlie Chaplin controversy and I had never heard of Edward Purdom. Please rule me out as a suspect.


  1. Seriously, I am innocent.

  2. Anonymous11/30/2005

    We recorded a song called Peck-in' at Gregory. It has a killer guitar lick.

  3. Anonymous11/30/2005

    I wonder if a star would fit in my watch pocket? Hmm. Where did I leave my chisel.

  4. Anonymous12/01/2005

    Sweetie - you might not be a suspect but you are a "person of intrest" in these vile crimes.