Stan Lee gets a star in Hollywood: ‘He is that American dream we all look for’ [Updated]

Jan. 04, 2011 | 4:54 p.m.
stanspidey Stan Lee gets a star in Hollywood: He is that American dream we all look for [Updated]

Stan "The Man" Lee stands over his star on Hollywood Blvd. (Getty Images)

Photographers and camera crews jockeyed for position on Tuesday amid the palm trees along Hollywood Boulevard as they sought the perfect angle for a historical moment: Stan “The Man” Lee, the biggest name in comic-book history if you don’t count the heroes and villains, got his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as fans and friends cheered.

As a writer and editor, Lee had a hand in the creation of hundreds of heroes and villains and in collaborating with artists such as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, John Romita and John Buscema he gave the world the modern mythology of Marvel Comics with Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, the X-Men, Thor, the Silver Surfer, Daredevil, the Avengers, Doctor Strange and Nick Fury. Those characters have gone well beyond the comics, too, inspiring massive Hollywood blockbusters, dozens of television series, video games, comic strips, novels, a Broadway show and enough toys, T-shirts and tie-in products to choke Galactus, the planet-eater.

Thanks to the film exploits of his creations, Lee now has a shining star in front of the Live Nation building at 7072 Hollywood Blvd. The comic book guru, who celebrated his 88th birthday on Dec. 28, was hailed at the event by  POW! Entertainment COO Gil Champion and fellow comics creator Todd McFarlane.

“He is that American dream that we all look for,” McFarlane said. “He comes up with the ideas that we all look for to move us forward.”

It was then announced that in Hollywood, Jan. 4 would be Stan Lee Day. Lee, ever the showman, then took to the stage for a few words. “Some Stan Lee Day — the schools are still open,” Lee deadpanned. “They’re still delivering the mail too!”

stanleestar Stan Lee gets a star in Hollywood: He is that American dream we all look for [Updated]

(Getty Images)

During his speech, Lee thanked director Alfred Hitchcock for giving him a bit of advice and shared a tall tale. “I remember as a young man when he dangled me on his knee and said ‘Don’t waste time with the screen [acting], get into cameos!’ The reference is to Lee’s major moonlighting effort; he has  two dozen cameos in films based on Marvel characters and that number will go up soon with the release this summer of “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger.”

Stanley Martin Lieber was born in New York City three days after Christmas 1922 and times were tough. The youngster worked as a movie-house usher, a sandwich-delivery kid and selling subscriptions for the New York Herald-Tribune. He found his future, though, in the early days of the American comic book industry, which took flight in a big way after Superman made his debut in the summer of 1938.

Young Lieber worked at a rival shop, however, publisher Martin Goodman’s Timely Comics. It was there, in 1941, that the teenager got his first credited work in the superhero business (it was a “filler” story in Captain America Comics) and the pseudonym that would later become his legal and world-famous name. The early motivation for the pen name was a telling one – the youngster wanted to save his real name for “legitimate” writing opportunities later in his career.

stan lee office Stan Lee gets a star in Hollywood: He is that American dream we all look for [Updated]

Stan Lee

It was at Timely in those war years that Lee crossed paths with Kirby, the prolific artist and cosmic dreamer. Two decades later, Timely was known as Marvel Comics and Lee and Kirby would collaborate for a new sort of comic-book hero – instead of boy-scout boring, these humans bickered among themselves, struggled in their personal lives and wrestled with doubts and personal demons. Essentially, they put the human into superhuman stories and the melodrama was pitch-perfect for a 1960s audience that was far more interested in rebel souls and haunted heroes than morally polished authority figures.

Lee has been a master at marketing and creating a community that kept readers invested far beyond the final page of the comic book in their hands. His relentless energy and the intricate, ever-widening Marvel Universe contributed mightily to the tone and texture of the fanboy culture that has turned Comic-Con International into the world’s largest pop culture expo. Lee has endured some bumpy years, certainly. There was a nasty business scandal in 2000 that resulted in the bankruptcy of Stan Lee Media and the securities-fraud conviction of co-founder Peter F. Paul, but the company’s namesake was never implicated. Lee also become a figure of controversy to some fans and students of comics history who argue that he has gotten too much credit for bottling up the creative lightning of Kirby and Spider-Man co-creator Ditko.

On Tuesday, though, there were cheers, not criticisms. With a look of pure joy, Lee let loose with his trademark declaration — “Excelsior!” — and then watched as his star, the 2,428th on the sidewalks of Hollywood, was unveiled and put him in the same firmament as his old heroes, Bogart, Stewart, Cagney and Gable.

— Jevon Phillips and Geoff Boucher


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UPDATE: An earlier version of this post had typo in the name of Gil Champion.


14 Responses to Stan Lee gets a star in Hollywood: ‘He is that American dream we all look for’ [Updated]

  1. Seauvan says:

    As a 9 year-old kid in 1967 Alaska, I became a life-long fan of Spiderman, Thor and Captain America. It was Marvel comics that gave me my first inkling of what "good" was and how hard being good could be. Congratulations to Stan Lee for taking his place among American icons.

  2. comic fan says:

    I'm not sure how right this is. Jack Kirby created those characters. Stan just took the credit, and has been as the real creators took off…. Stan's secret isn't creativity, it's working the creative people to death and then taking the credit

    • W10002 says:

      I agree that Jack Kirby rarely gets his due credit for his contribution in creating the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Thor, Hulk and Iron Man. Let's not forget he also helped create Captain America without the involvement of Stan Lee, as well as creating the New Gods in the DC Universe.

      However, it can't be ignored that Stan Lee still has a huge involvement in shaping the Marvel Universe. Remember, Stan Lee didn't work with Jack Kirby to create Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Doctor Strange. It's naive to think Stan Lee didn't create anything he's given credit for. He is the writer. He did come with the basic concepts of the characters he helped create. It was up to the artists to bring basic concepts into reality.

      Does Stan Lee deserve all the credit for his creation? Of course not. But nonetheless he deserves recognition for co-creating some of the best characters in American Comics.

      • Joe Pearson says:

        Stan might on occasion aknowledge Jack Kirby's contribution, but the Kirby heirs get NONE of the big buck royalties from Marvel Ent. that Mr. Lee does.

        That's a travesty of justice. Jack Kirby's contribution to a majority of the core of the Marvel superhero universe is arguably greater then Mr Lee's. At least on par, but his heirs do not profit from this at all.

  3. runfaraz says:

    You mean he paid for his star on the walk of fame, just like everyone else does.

  4. Doug Drexler says:

    There is no doubt Stan gave Marvel the flash, pizazz and razzle-dazzle management that catapulted these properties into the stratosphere. Without that, these characters would probably have gone the way of thousands of great ideas that fizzled and were never seen again. Walt Disney did not draw a frame of "Fantasia" or "Snow White", while Stan wrote thousands upon thousands of pages of the Marvel books which laid the foundation for today's successes… not to mention creating the personae of Marvel. I love Jack Kirby and the others just like everyone else, but if you read their books after departing their collaboration with Mr. Lee, it becomes obvious who gave them their sizzle. Congratulations to Stan and all involved with the seminal work at Marvel in the 60's.

    • Joe Pearson says:

      Jack Kirby's contribution went far beyond merely executing Stan's ideas and scripts. Many of the Marvel characters were created whole cloth by Jack and not Stan.

      And I disagree about your assessment of Jack's post-Marvel/Stan work. His mega opus,
      "The New Gods" for D.C., was brilliant and masterful. Fully as good as any of his Marvel work and it was ALL written and drawn by Jack Kirby.

      • Roz says:

        Is that why when Jack Kirby got the opportunity to create new and exciting properties he ended up creating nothing but riffs on Stan Lee's stories and characters. People give Kirby too much credit, he was a create artist and that's it. Stan Lee has proven that his abilities shine no matter who the artist is, be it Ditko, Romita or Kirby.

  5. nospin2 says:

    Stan used his media company as his personal piggy bank but couldn't remember his name when the feds came in so his best friend Peter Paul took the fall. Stan's a real Superhero!

  6. Joe says:

    We fans all know that creators like Kirby and Ditko deserve the spotlight along with Stan. But Stan always makes a point with the media that he shares credit with those creators. More power to him. I can't believe he's still so vital and energetic at 88!

  7. skyjedi says:

    Where is Jack Kirby's star. Look at all these films being based in his works, even if done rather poorly.

    Here is to hoping Thor is actually good.

  8. skyjedi says:

    One thing Kirby can take wholesale credit for is Spider-man. They did not use the Kirby proposal spiderman.

  9. bob says:

    What is his motivation/ambition?

  10. RMC says:

    Let's not forget about the co-creator of Captain America, and the creator of the Silver Spider (with which Stan "created" Spider Man, Joe Simon.

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