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Stars Underfoot

It’s a strange thing, the Palm Springs Walk of Stars. I know they’re not gravestones, but they’ve always felt a bit funereal to me.

Kent Black Attractions

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY FREDRIK BRODÉN

ICONICA

WALK OF STARS

The other day I was walking south on Palm Canyon Drive and happened to spot the star marker on the sidewalk for William T. Orr. Actually, I had to do a little standing broad jump to avoid stepping on him. That’s always been a conundrum to me, whether I’m walking down Palm Canyon or Hollywood Boulevard. I mean, I’m not sure I’d think twice about stepping on Cheeta the Chimp or Chevy Chase, but God forbid even my best loafer besmirch Lauren Bacall or the Chairman of the Board.

It’s a strange thing, the Palm Springs Walk of Stars. I know they’re not gravestones, but they’ve always felt a bit funereal to me. So, I walk with caution on Palm Canyon (this does not apply to Hollywood Boulevard where such delicacy would get me knocked on my keister) and try to skirt William Powell, Charlie Farrell, Larry Gelbart, Sophia Loren, and a few dozen others I have admired personally and professionally.

I met William (Bill) Orr many years ago — and have subsequently become friends with his son, filmmaker Greg Orr — at a memorial for producer Cy Howard.

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At the memorial I found myself sitting with Orr and Gelbart. Somehow, they drew me out on the subject of my step-grandfather’s recent funeral. He was a Jack Mormon (nonpracticing), and when he died, his relatives took him back to their small Utah town.

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As gentiles, we were not allowed in the temple, but they did give us a nice bologna-sandwich lunch in the high school cafeteria. I was sitting with a group of local women who explained to me that my step-grandfather was being re-baptized. I asked what purpose that served after someone was already dead.

“Why,” said one of the ladies, “once he’s re-baptized, he’ll get his own planet.”

I paused in my retelling of the story, and Orr immediately chimed in, “And a golf cart.”

A man with that kind of timing? I’ll never step on his star.