Why 450 Stars Were Once Removed From The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

For more than six decades, the city of Hollywood, California has honored individuals who have made significant contributions to the entertainment industry via the Hollywood Walk of Fame. According to the Walk's website, over 2,500 stars now honor the men and women who have contributed to the performing arts in any of six categories: television, movies, recordings, radio, live theater, and sports entertainment. Honorees include major players such as Marilyn Monroe and more obscure individuals whose contributions are more niche, and whose names might be immediately recognizable to the general public.

One of the points about the Walk is that once a star is installed, it is not removed, despite public outcry over an honoree's behavior. "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," said the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce in November 2017, reported by The Independent. However, for a time in the 1990s, visitors to the walk would have found that a number of honorees had actually been removed — about 20% of them.

A mass transit project sent 450 stars into storage for three years

As Mental Floss reported, it wasn't outrage that caused the disappearances; rather, a civic construction project necessitated the removal of hundreds of stars. What's more, the project took so long that the stars sat, more or less forgotten, for several years in an L.A. area storage facility. Only when the dust had settled were the stars, some of whom honored immediately-recognizable names, put back where they belonged.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a part of the very fabric of the city, in a manner of speaking, in that it is literally a part of the street in areas of Hollywood. However, cities are living things, and in the 1990s, when the L.A. Metro built a subway line through Hollywood, hundreds of stars had to be removed.

According to Mental Floss, approximately 450 stars had to be dug up, packed away, and stored to accommodate the construction project. Some of the stars that got moved include the names of titans of the industry: Charlie Chaplin, Walt Disney, and Gene Kelly, among multiple others. The project wound up taking several years, during which the stars' stars sat in storage, before ultimately being returned to their "home," where they remain to this day.