Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Walk of Western Stars: Tex Ritter, 1982
Newhall, California


Aug. 28, 1982: Actor John Ritter speaks at the unveiling of the Downtown Newhall Walk of Western Stars plaque honoring his late father, Western singer-actor Tex Ritter, in front of the Newhall Pharmacy building at the corner of San Fernando Road and Market Street.

The Downtown Newhall Walk of Western Stars began in 1981 as the "Western Walk of Fame" as a means of honoring Western film, stage, television and radio personalities who performed in the Santa Clarita Valley. The Walk grew out of a Western Celebrities Luncheon (1975-1979) / Dinner (1980) put together by Jo Anne Darcy after she became manager of the Newhall-Saugus-Valencia (SCV) Chamber of Commerce in 1974. Darcy and the chamber eventually transformed it into the Western Walk of Fame — which name was changed to "Walk of Western Stars" after the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce sued over the use of the trademarked "Walk of Fame" name.

Stars were immortalized along San Fernando Road and Newhall Avenue, and later Market Street, with bronze plaques and terrazzo tile set into the sidewalks. The induction on the street was accompanied by a gala dinner at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. The event continued annually through 1993 and was suspended in 1994 because of leadership and copyright issues, and because of the earthquake on Jan. 17 of that year.

Installations resumed in 2000 when Darcy was mayor of the city of Santa Clarita. The Walk was incorporated into the city's annual Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival (later called Cowboy Festival) — with the blessing of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, which claimed ownership of the event (even though a separate nonprofit corporation, the Santa Clarita Valley Walk of Western Stars Foundation, ran the event prior to 1994). The gala dinner was moved to the posh new Hyatt Valencia Hotel and Conference Center and, starting in 2002, to the Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio in Placerita Canyon. Various types of celebratory events (not usually including dinner) have been organized since the Cowboy Festival moved to William S. Hart Park in 2015.

JD8201b: 9600 dpi jpeg from photograph courtesy of Jo Anne Darcy

Walk Index

John Ritter, 1982

Tex Ritter Plaque, 1982

John Ritter Story

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