This Day in Pop Culture for February 8

1960: First Star is Presented on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

On this day in 1960, the sidewalks in Hollywood began to crumble as actress Joanne Woodward was the first star to have a star dedicated to them. After the official groundbreaking ceremony, construction continued for 16 months installing 1,500 other stars belonging to actors, musicians, fictional characters and filmmakers. The stars, placed on both sides of Hollywood Boulevard, stretch from Gower to La Brea (15 blocks) and another row are placed on Vine Street from Yucca to Sunset (three blocks). The Hollywood Walk of Fame currently holds more than 2,500 terrazzo and brass stars with about 20 added each year.

1985: Witness Arrives in Theaters

Witness, the American crime thriller about an Amish boy who was a “witness” to a murder, arrived in theaters on this day in 1985. Directed by Peter Weir, the movie starred Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards (including Harrison Ford’s only nomination to date) and won two for “Best Original Screenplay” and “Best Film Editing.” However, the movie was not a hit by those living in the Amish communities where the movie was filmed as they felt that the movie did not portray them accurately. They also voiced concerns that more tourists would come by to stare at them due to the popularity of the film.

Witness movie poster

2001: Disney’s California Adventure Opens with a Thud

Though Disney World in Florida had grown to three parks, it took until this day in 2001 for the original Disneyland to see a sister park open. It wasn’t for a lack of trying. The Mouse House had wanted a second park for many years, but struggled to come up with a theme among other things. However, CEO Michael Eisner led the charge to create a park that would feature all of California’s best features and bring them together. Unlike Disney’s other parks, then-Disneyland president Paul Pressler allowed the new park to be designed by merchandising and retail staff members instead of Imagineers. Opening with four “lands” known as “districts”, DCA was planned for grown-ups instead of families. It initially had 22 shows and attractions and 15 restaurants, which probably looked good on paper, but the park’s attendance was a lot less than expected with just five million visitors that first year compared to Disneyland’s 12.3 million. For those who did experience the new park, many left disappointed. Many of the attractions were just dressed up classic carnival rides instead of offering new adventures. Before the end of the first year, Wolfgang Puck and Robert Mondavi closed their two upscale restaurants. Imagineer Kevin Rafferty once said, “Much to our chagrin, it didn’t adhere to our fundamental design principles of theme park design.” Disney began making major changes to the park in 2007 adding new and popular attractions such as Toy Story Midway Mania!, the nighttime water and lights show, World of Color, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure and whole new lands based on the Cars, Star Wars and Marvel franchises.

Movies Released

  • Blackbeard’s Ghost (1968)
  • Collateral Damage (2002)
  • Fool’s Gold (2008)
  • Identity Thief (2013)
  • In Bruges (2008)
  • Side Effects (2013)
  • Taxi Driver (1976)
  • The Fog (1980)
  • The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019)
  • The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot (2019)
  • The NeverEnding Story II (1991)
  • Witness (1985)
  • Would You Rather (2013)

TV Series Debuts

  • Better Call Saul (2015)
  • Good Times (1974)
  • Legion (2017)
  • Sonny with a Chance (2009)

Famous Birthdays

  • 1828: Jules Verne (author)
  • 1914: Bill Finger (co-creator of Batman)
  • 1921: Lana Turner (actress)
  • 1922: Audrey Meadows (actress)
  • 1925: Jack Lemmon (actor)
  • 1931: James Dean (actor)
  • 1932: John Williams (composer)
  • 1940: Ted Koppel (journalist)
  • 1941: Nick Nolte (actor)
  • 1953: Mary Steenburgen (actress)
  • 1955: John Grisham (author)
  • 1968: Gary Coleman (actor)
  • 1969: Mary McCormack (actress)
  • 1974: Seth Green (actor)

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