March 30, 2001: Herb Jeffries (second from left) is inducted in the Downtown Newhall Walk of Western Stars
with (from left) Douglas Sink, 2001 president of the Santa Clarita Valley
Chamber of Commerce; Patty Kelly, representing State Sen. William J. "Pete" Knight, R-19th;
and Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste. Immediately behind Weste is Santa Clarita City Councilman
Robert Kellar. Jeffries' plaque is on the east side of San Fernando Road near Market Street,
in front of the El Trocadero Mesquite Grill and Cantina.
Inductees in 2001 included actors Linda Gray of "Dallas" fame (and a Sand Canyon resident), Herb Jeffries (the
first African American to have a starring role in Western films in the 1930s) and
Wilford Brimley (who appeared in Western films well before creating a new identity in "Cocoon") and
City Councilwoman Jo Anne Darcy who, with the late Milt Diamond (longtime leader of the former Downtown Newhall
Merchants Association), founded the event 20 years earlier.
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.