Seeing Stars: Where the Stars are Immortalized
  


5220 Lankershim Boulevard,
North Hollywood, CA. / (818) 754-2800



Jack Benny stands with his famous violin in hand. Nearby, Lucille Ball sits perched atop a wall, posing for the camera; Johnny Carson looks as if he's about to deliver his familiar nightly monologue on the "Tonight Show."

Where can you find these life-size bronze statues of your favorite TV personalities? At the new Hall of Fame at the Academy Plaza, out in front of the Academy of Television Arts & Science headquarters, that's where. It's the same place where you will see a mammoth golden replica of the winged Emmy Award.

Don't confuse this organization with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the people who give out the Oscars. This is the Television Academy, which gives out the Emmy awards - as that giant winged figure in the fountain should remind you. The plaza is located in North Hollywood (in the Valley), just over the hill from Hollywood proper.

It isn't easy to find this new Hall of Fame. The office center where it's located (Academy Plaza) is a splendid new project, but it's in a slightly seedy part of town, and it isn't visible from the street. The Academy headquarters is tucked away in a plaza hidden behind the Landmark Entertainment Group building, near the northeast corner of Lankershim & Magnolia Boulevards (a few miles north of Universal Studios.)

The Hall of Fame is part of a circular, pink-&-gray stone courtyard, located just outside the front doors of the Academy building. In the center of this attractive outdoor plaza is a bubbling fountain, topped by nothing less than a giant, 15-foot-tall, gleaming, golden replica of an Emmy award, wings and all, holding aloft her golden globe. It's a dramatic sight, and a good place for Hollywood tourists to snap a souvenir photo.

The numerous bronze likenesses that make up the outdoor Hall of Fame encircle this huge Emmy fountain - and include both busts and full-size statues. The busts of classic TV personalities include not only well-known stars, but also acclaimed TV writers (such as Rod Serling & Paddy Chayefsky), pioneering TV producers (such as Norman Lear), and prominent TV executives (such as William Paley).

Besides the three excellent life-size statues of the TV superstars already mentioned (Jack, Lucy & Johnny), there are carved likenesses embossed on the eastern wall of this plaza, honoring such TV notables as George Burns & Gracie Allen, Walter Cronkite & Steve Allen.

Most of the rest of the monuments are bronze busts of TV pioneers, including "Mr. Television" himself, Milton Berle, "Your Show of Shows" host Sid Caesar, Walt Disney and Mary Tyler Moore.

New inductees to the Hall of Fame Plaza are unveiled on a regular basis; recent new additions include a small, full-length figure of Jackie Gleason (dancing), and traditional busts of Bob Hope, Bill Cosby, Danny Thomas, Ernie Kovacs, David Susskind, newsman Eric Sevareid, and comic Red Skelton. (Red is dealing a hand of cards which bear images of him dressed as his well-known characters, such as "Freddie the Freeloader" & "Clem Kadiddlehopper").

In the last few years, the Academy has added more TV legends to the Hall of Fame list (but did not add any busts or statues of these new inductees), including Bob Newhart, Jack Webb, Angela Lansbury, Dick Clark, John Chancellor, Garry Marshall, Diane Sawyer, Mister Rogers, Aaron Spelling, Carl Reiner and Phil Donahue, bringing the total number close to 100.

This is an outdoor exhibit - there is nothing for tourists to see inside the small, guarded lobby of the Academy building itself (other than small statues of Ed Sullivan, and Carol Burnett in her washwoman costume). But in the 8-story tower on the other side of the fountain, there is a small research library, which is open to the public (on the third floor, room 340). On my last visit, the lobby of this tower also displayed a large scale model of a proposed theme park, called "Mark Twain's Calaveras County." (Press a button on the model and its street lights come on and model trains run.)

It's admirable that television has finally honored its own with a permanent exhibit, and you can bet that this Hall of Fame will grow quickly, as more famous names are added to the star-studded list with each passing year. But this still isn't the kind of attraction that most folks would go far out of their way to see. Nevertheless, if you're in the Valley and looking for a little Hollywood glamour, this is a nice little spot to stop and take a snapshot with your visiting relatives.

Nearby, at 5230 Lankershim Boulevard, is the new Academy Plaza Theatre. On one Sunday of each month, the theatre offers "the show of the month," featuring veteran entertainers such as Shelly Berman, Phyllis Diller and Frankie Laine. For more information about these shows, phone (818) 785-8885.

The plaza is open free to the public. There's a free parking lot, plus limited (metered) street parking on Lankershim.


Click here to buy books about the Emmys.

 Getting there: The Hall of Fame is located in the outdoor Academy Plaza, in front of the new Academy of Television Arts & Sciences building in North Hollywood (about two miles northwest of Universal Studios), near the northeast corner of Lankershim & Magnolia Blvds. The Academy building is tucked away in a larger center behind (north of) the Landmark Entertainment Group Building, on the east side of Lankershim Blvd. / From Hollywood, take the Hollywood (101) Freeway into the Valley and get off at the Magnolia Boulevard exit. Go east on Magnolia (half a mile) to Lankershim Blvd. Turn left (northwest) on Lankershim, then turn into the private drive that leads into the center. Once inside, you'll quickly spot the giant Emmy Award fountain. The busts and statues that make up the Hall of Fame surround this fountain.


[For more information on this subject, you can access the Emmy's Hall of Fame webpage at: http://www.emmys.org/whatwedo/halloffame/.] 



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Copyright  2014-Gary Wayne
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