Finding yourself on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in highly famous Hollywood, California, you may be at a complete loss as to where to begin. The stars at your feet are as numerous as they are incandescent. One place to start might be one of the more recent stars to be added to the walk: your Annette Bening. Here you can pay homage to Ms. Bening and her body of work by reciting punchy moll dialogue from Bugsy. Consider writing something nice in the fresh cement about her husband of several years. Remember that she’s lost out on an Oscar win to Hilary Swank. Twice. With soldering iron in hand, visit Swank’s star next.
Unable to find Swank anywhere, stop here for a moment of reflection. Gaze down at the unassuming star, faded now and forged with material that builders of shiny things don’t seem to use anymore. Look down the street at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and try to conjure a vision of the town 70 years ago, when eager crowds entered a red and golden palace and sat together in the dark, waiting for light to wash across their faces. Will any art form ever see such devotion again? Who will pick up where you, Hoot, left off? It’s worth asking also, Who are you, Hoot Gibson? Not just who you were in your personal life—although that might be nice, too—but what was it that you did exactly? We’re told it was motion pictures by the camera emblem bronzed into Mr. Gibson’s star. You think, “Maybe that waiter in Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo”—which you watched the other morning on your iPod while stuck in traffic—"was Hoot." Oh. One can only imagine.
Louis Gossett Jr.
Tears, tears, nothing but your salty tears. Tears that say, “Bless you, Mr. Gossett.” OK, collect yourself. Try not to act too overwhelmed with emotion. On the other hand, don’t act funny, either. In fact, try not to act at all—it could be viewed as upstaging. The camera surveillance placed on this star will also be noting your attire and the authenticity of your mustache. Go ahead and re-enact some scenes from his ’80s pictures, or, as film historians have dubbed his work during this period, “the winsome years.” But, please note, no flash photography, no smoking within 10 yards of the star, and no singing of the theme song from the made-for-TV movie Run for the Dream: The Gail Devers Story. Also, consider bringing chalk to this star to scrawl below his name “You had us at one Iron Eagle.”
Here you are, in front of a gift shop, considering the purchase of a neon-lit picture of Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, and Judy Garland sitting together at a bar drinking cocktails that resembles Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, when you look down and realize you’re standing on Claude Rains. It strikes you to listen to reason, though you’re not sure why or how. It’s an odd feeling, really. You remember Captain Renault from Casablanca. He wore gray, the Germans wore … a slightly different shade of gray. You remember also that he always had the hint of a smile on his face. Not a mindless one, but rather much the opposite, like he had an insight beyond the others around him. Like he was in on a joke as to what a farce the whole crew, set, and other actors were, but what a beautiful one it was they’d all constructed, so why not savor it while we’re here? You should maybe keep walking, because Claude Rains is now making you uncomfortable.
Here lies the Fly. How he stoked the fires of our imagination into billowing flames. Actually, someone must have by now informed you that the talent isn’t in fact buried beneath these stars. Additionally, Jeff Goldbum is not yet deceased. This realization could become all the more embarrassing when you find Mr. Goldblum actually standing there beside his star. After an unpleasant silence, inquire if he would like a fresh polishing brush. Or strike up a conversation by asking if his glasses are real or just part of a contract thing. Grudgingly promise that later you will post favorable comments on his Internet Movie Database page.
This star pays tribute to the constable from Mary Poppins. He also somehow managed to find time to create a chain of fish-and-chips restaurants. In a country where the inclusion of fish totally ruins a good chip, this took a kind of unbending integrity that would provide a model for generations to come. Complain openly about the injustice that the categories of contribution to the industry stop at fried seafood. And where have all the Arthur Treacher Fish and Chips establishments gone? Gone to flowers. Every one.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
This is an interesting commemoration illustrating that not all the stars are for actual persons. (Snow White, Godzilla, and Donald Trump are just a few of the other examples.) Still, that doesn’t change the fact that you are frankly worried sick about Ashley and her public behavior lately. Though you can’t remember exactly what the studio memos said, you consider it an obvious cry for help. But your main job here is to protest that these two haven’t received individual stars. It’s bad enough they had to share a stroller and sedatives on Full House. Stage this protest with signs and petitions that can be thrust into the faces of passersby. Decline Goldblum’s offer to help out.
This star celebrates the man who founded his own eponymous game. Even Pat Sajak, over at the corner of Gower Street, can’t say that. But Pat did appear in the film Airplane II, with Lloyd Bridges. And Bridges was in the film Hot Shots! with Valeria Golino, who appeared in Rain Man with Dustin Hoffman, who looked a little silly with long hair in Sleepers, which also starred Kevin Bacon. Hey, that’s kind of a fun way to go about connecting this galaxy of stars. One could even make a game of it. Who knows? If you continue to show off your deep knowledge of the business in this manner to just about anyone regardless of their interest, maybe you, too, can one day beat out Annette Bening for the Oscar. It all begins with a singular dream.