This is a true story, not just based on one. I was walking on Hollywood Boulevard, in the section with the Walk of Fame, looking at all the unhappy tourists walking along beside and around me. I know that tourists can be unhappy anywhere, but they always seem especially unhappy on Hollywood Boulevard,
I was walking alongside a father and his young son, maybe ten years old, and the two of them were looking at the stars in the sidewalk. They didn’t seem very impressed. I wouldn’t claim to be able completely to analyze the pair’s social and class markers, but I think it meant quite a lot that in an effort to enthuse his boy the father suddenly spotted a star that drew his attention and he said excitedly, “Hey look, it’s a star for John Deere!” That would be John Deere the 19th century blacksmith and inventor, best known in America today for being the name of a line of tractors.
Deere struck me as an unlikely candidate for having a star on the Walk of Fame, but for all I knew he might conceivably have had some odd but crucial part in the history of movie technology. But as I looked down at the sidewalk, I heard the father groan and say sadly to his son, “Oh, it’s not John Deere, it’s John Derek. Whoever that is.”
Ah me. And I thought, though I didn’t say, “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.” We get a lot of that in Hollywood.