Why Sam Kinison’s star is missing, according to an article by Phil Luciano: “although the markers for Hadley and Brickhouse remain solid, Kinison’s has crumbled to nothingness. Apparently, the former two were crafted of granite, whereas Kinison’s was made of concrete.”
Because it’s interesting, I’m going to republish the entire article here, written by Phil Liciano and published on July 20, 2007.
In the aftermath ofÂ the death ofÂ Jerry Hadley, an old quotation ofÂ his eerily resounds in my mind.
He said it in 1994, when he was honored by the Peoria Walk of Fame . Surrounded by media, he peered down at his honorary slab, which boasted JERRY HADLEY and OPERA inside a huge, black star.
“You know what a star is?” he said. “A flaming ball of gas that floats in the darkness and consumes itself.”
Hadley was only poking fun at his worldwide celebrity. Still, in the wake of his apparent suicide in the face of personal problems, we now know that Hadley indeed floated in darkness and consumed himself.
Mind you, his legacy won’t be his sad death, but a voice that touched millions. Even a musical rube like myself can appreciate the achievements of the tenor who hailed from Bureau County and Bradley University.
A fellow who hobnobs with the likes of Beverly Sills, Leonard Bernstein and Paul McCartney can rack up an impressive resume of accolades. But when he died, I immediately thought of the Walk of Fame .
The walk has been dormant since 1994, the year its only three slabs were laid into the sidewalk outside of the Madison Theater.
The first was for Sam Kinison, who had died two years earlier. His mother, brother and other supports attended, and they all saluted Kinison by offering his trademark bellow, “AUGH! AUGH! AUGGHHHH!”
The next was for Hadley, whose mother had worked as a waitress at Jim’s Steak House – like the Madison, run then and now by the Comfort family. I was impressed that Hadley, a busy heavyweight in the opera world, would come for Peoria to attend the unveiling of the small but heartfelt honor.
“It’s a long way from the streets of Peoria to the Metropolitan Opera,” he said that day. ” … The times I’ve played in Peoria are very near and dear to my heart.”
The last slab commemorated Jack Brickhouse, the Peoria native who made the baseball Hall of Fame for his work behind the microphone for the Chicago Cubs. At his sidewalk ceremony, Brickhouse said, “If I had my choice of the walk here or the one in California, I’d choose the one here.”
That was in November 1994. Other slabs for other famous Peorians had been planned.
But that hasn’t happened. In fact, although the markers for Hadley and Brickhouse remain solid, Kinison’s has crumbled to nothingness. Apparently, the former two were crafted of granite, whereas Kinison’s was made of concrete. Somewhere, I bet the self-deprecating Kinison can cackle about that inequity.
Why did the walk stop? It just sort of fell to the wayside.
The idea for the project had come from Tim Comfort, with the assistance of Mike Sullivan. At the time, Sullivan operated the club S.O.P. in the same building as the Madison, and he also helped the Comforts with other ventures.
The two picked the walk ‘s honorees by chatting with each other and customers. The first slab got shoved into the ground amid controversy: Sullivan hadn’t bothered to get permission from the city to dig out a big chunk of sidewalk. Still, City Hall eventually gave him a pass; in fact, the other two slabs received proper city blessings.
But Sullivan, always a contrarian to authority, hated jumping through hoops. Meanwhile, several celebrities – including Susan Dey, the Pekin native who went on to “The Partridge Family” and “L.A. Law” – never responded to walk overtures. And eventually, Sullivan would sell S.O.P. and move on to other ventures.
So, the Walk of Fame has become lame. But Sullivan says he wants to get it moving.
“We’re gonna get it going again,” he pledges.
First, Sullivan wants to wait to see a little life come back to Downtown. A lot of foot traffic has drifted to the riverfront, but he hopes for a resurgence on Main Street – home of Sullivan’s Pub, which he owns, and Euro Jack’s Cafe, which he designed for Tim Comfort.
Still, Sullivan feels the same way as in 1994: The walk would not only put a little pizzazz into Downtown, but tout to visitors Peoria as a longtime birthplace of talent.
Tim Comfort eyes the cost of the markers, which cost more than $2,000 in 1994. Still, he’d be willing to invest in putting more slabs in front of his theater, if Friends of the Madison can come up with enough money for needed rehab.
“We just don’t have $12 million,” he says.
Meantime, he says, he’ll mull the original idea of wrapping the walk around Euro Jack’s – which sits at one of the town’s most visible pedestrian intersections, Main and Madison.
“We could do it,” he says. “I think in the future it can be brought back up.”
Peoria is always looking to boost itself, so I’d hope civic leaders would cooperate. As for the walk ‘s honorees, maybe the city, Sullivan and Comfort could incorporate a public vote as to whom to honor first.
“Fogelberg could be the next one,” Sullivan says. “Richard Pryor should be another.”
Of course, there are plenty more, from plenty of eras. But right now, all we have are Brickhouse and Hadley.