Hollywood’s Walk of Fame stretches throughout Loews and iconic theaters and attractions. Photo by Harrison Shiels

Hollywood’s Walk of Fame stretches throughout Loews and iconic theaters and attractions. Photo by Harrison Shiels

AARP’s State Director Paula Cunningham traveled from Lansing to Los Angeles and was figuratively “Dancing in the Street” for music maven Martha Reeves, who made that song a smash. The street was Hollywood Boulevard, and the occasion was a ceremony unveiling the hit singer’s star on the Walk of Fame. Cunningham was among the VIPs who gathered in California’s golden sunshine to salute the “Martha and the Vandellas” songstress. Her hit singles also included “Heat Wave,” “Nowhere to Run,” and “Jimmy Mack.” For that special day in Hollywood, in the shadow of the iconic Capitol Records building, Motown’s music stars eclipsed them all.

“All the folks I grew up listening to and dancing to their songs were there,” Cunningham told me.

Stevie Wonder, Berry Gordy, and Smokey Robinson were among the gathered honoring Reeves, who was described as sassy-but-classy. “It’s a good description,” Cunningham insisted. “She is 82 and she is still going strong. She will speak her mind in a heartbeat. She actually told Berry Gordy he got his story about her wrong. It didn’t happen that way. She was not his secretary.”

The outspoken Reeves even served on the Detroit City Council.

Walk of Fame “star ceremonies,” listed at, take place at lunchtime, and are free to attend. The website offers helpful tips.

“The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce did a fabulous job. They block off the street for the ceremony and people lined up on the sidewalk just to get a glimpse of Martha Reeves. They didn’t even know the other music stars were there at the time.”

Cunningham did, though, but insisted she is not a groupie who brings out the camera out every time she sees someone famous. Nevertheless, she ended up talking selfies with the stars. “All of a sudden it hit me that I was sitting with historical people who changed the world in a lot of ways. There was so much civic unrest and social unrest at the time their music brought people together. I thought, ‘That’s Steve Wonder three seats down from me! Don’t just sit here, Paula Cunningham! Do something!’ So, I did: I jumped up like a 16-year-old at a Taylor Swift concert and ran over.”

Reeves kept trying to pin on the elaborate hat (a gift she wore out of appreciation) which kept blowing off her head during the ceremony. Cunningham said she wore red – the color of AARP. “A red dress really does stand out because people kept asking me who I was. Smokey Robinson, when he walked in, waved to me like he thought he knew me!”

Hollywood Boulevard is home to the TCL Chinese Theater and the Dolby Theater, the venue for the Academy Awards, which is attached to Loews Hollywood Hotel and Ovation Hollywood, a shopping complex offering a panoramic view of the Hollywood Sign. Jimmy Kimmel’s nightly ABC show tapes across the street next to the colorful, flashing marquee of Disney’s El Capitan Theater. All of it, and much more, is connected by the sidewalk of stars. It is a scene of costumed, posing performers; wax museums; and bacon-wrapped hotdogs.

“You would think that the Hollywood Walk of Fame is some kind of pristine place where you walk in, like a museum,” said Cunningham. “But people step all over the 2,000 stars on that street. It’s a tourist area and a good place to go and see the names and have some fun bringing back memories.”

Cunningham stayed at the Hollywood Roosevelt, which she described as delightful. “It is an old-school, historic hotel where the first Oscar ceremony was held. You can walk down the halls and imagine you are back in history with Marylin Monroe.”

Cunningham also attended a reception at the Grammy Museum downtown at L.A. Live during which Reeves spoke.

“She talked about how she got started as a little girl in Alabama, went to Detroit, and bulldozed her way into Motown Records. She started answering their phones just to show she was willing to do whatever she had to do to have her talent heard and seen until they realized they had a star on their hands.”

That “star” is now represented on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Contact Michael Patrick Shiels at  His new book: Travel Tattler – Not So Torrid Tales, may be purchased via

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)