Monday, January 20, 2020

Celebrating Classic TV Stars on The Hollywood Walk of Fame


Recently, Burt Ward received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 



I was happy for him, but it also made me think about Bill Bixby.

For years, Brandon Cruz (Bixby’s young costar on The Courtship of Eddie’s Father) has been lobbying for Bixby to receive a star. He even set up a Go Fund Me page back in 2016, trying to raise $50,000, which is the going price of a star for those selected to receive one.  Three years later, the page has collected a little over half the amount required. 



Sure, Burt Ward deserves a star – Batman was a classic show that has entertained fans for 50 years. And though others have played the role of Robin since then, when people remember the character nobody thinks first of Chris O’Donnell.

But Ward didn’t do much after those three seasons. And no one could argue that Bill Bixby’s television career was not more successful. He starred in My Favorite Martian, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, The Magician, The Incredible Hulk, and Goodnight Beantown. He made several memorable guest appearances on other shows, and also directed episodes of Charlie’s Angels and Blossom.

I get that the Hollywood Walk of Fame is not an accurate gauge of show business success. Clint Eastwood and Al Pacino still don’t have stars, but the list of honorees includes John Tesh, Minnie Mouse, and chef Bobby Flay.

The star for Burt Ward is one of 26 that will be added this year to the more than 2,600 already lining the Hollywood sidewalks. Among the other honorees – Andy Cohen and Wendy Williams. Fifty years from now, those will be the stars that people walk past and wonder, “Who was that?”

On his Facebook page, Brandon Cruz has explained the obstacles and frustrations he’s faced in his campaign. The biggest one may be that the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which oversees the nomination process, only allows for one posthumous star to be awarded every year. As a result, even though 2020 has just started, the Bixby campaign is already on hold again until 2021. 



Does it really matter that much? I don’t know. When an actor’s accolades are listed this one doesn’t come up very often. But there is still something special about being part of a tradition that dates back to 1960. A star is a permanent landmark to achievement in the heart of the city most associated with film and television entertainment. And no matter how many times I’m in that area, and that number is probably well north of 50 by now, I still look at every name I walk by, just like a tourist.

But since the criteria has as much to do with who you know as what you did, and prioritizes money over merit, the results are going to be imperfect. And as long as the Chamber of Commerce prefers having the ceremony and photo op with the star in attendance, many deceased classic TV stars yet to be honored are likely out of luck.

How well are they represented already? A comprehensive list would take too long, but I pulled up the list of the 25 best classic TV shows compiled last year, to see how many of those show’s top talent have stars. Overall the results aren’t bad: The Twilight Zone is represented by Rod Serling, and Peter Falk (Columbo), Raymond Burr (Perry Mason) David Janssen (The Fugitive) and Jack Webb (Dragnet) are all there as well. 



The Ricardos and the Mertzes have been honored, along with the full bridge crew of the original Starship Enterprise. But only Betty White is there to represent The Golden Girls.

Fans of The Odd Couple will find a star for Oscar but not one for Felix. Fans of Hill Street Blues won’t find stars for anyone from its voluminous cast. Other surprising omissions: Valerie Harper, Gavin Macleod, Jean Stapleton and Sally Struthers, and just about everyone on Dallas except for Larry Hagman. 



If Bill Bixby never gets a star, at least he’s in good company among the overlooked.

Here’s an interesting trivia question to end this piece: Many fictional characters have received stars, including Donald Duck, The Rugrats and Shrek. But only one star contains both the name of a fictional character, and the actor who played that character on television. Any guesses?

6 comments:

  1. I have been told that Lynda Day George ("Mission: Impossible," "Roots") could care less about receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Her late husband Christopher George ("The Rat Patrol," "The Immortal") wasn't too interested in getting one himself.

    As for the sole Hollywood Walk of Fame star that contains the name of a fictional character as well as the name of the actor who played that character on television, would the names on that star be Adam West and Batman?

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  2. What an interesting read... and to think that when I saw Burt Ward's photo at the start, I thought "they must be getting desperate". Know next to nothing about those stars on Hollywood Blvd, but reading about Brandon Cruz' efforts pulled at my heartstrings. Wow, Bill Bixby... I just assumed he had one (and wait, no star for Tony Randall or Bea Arthur??) What a gyp! Well before i begin my google search for the answer to your trivia question, could it be Charles Schultz & Peanuts?

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  3. PS. Well I was wrong Schultz! Anyway, thanks for the great read, Dave! Okay my next search will be for the guy who played the Lone Ranger...

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    1. Thanks David--the only reason Lone Ranger came to mind, earlier in the day a youtuber named FizzFop posted a video about the Green Hornet, and pointed out it's creator also came up with the Lone Ranger. :)

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