Originally created 12/02/05

Gregory Peck's stolen star replaced



LOS ANGELES - In a simple ceremony, a new star honoring Oscar winner Gregory Peck was unveiled Wednesday on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to replace one that was stolen by a brazen thief.

Kneeling on the ground, Hollywood's honorary mayor Johnny Grant lifted a covering and announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, we proudly welcome back to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Gregory Peck."

Peck's original star had been part of the Hollywood Boulevard celebrity shrine for more than four decades until someone with a cement saw cut the bronze-and-terrazzo marker out of the sidewalk.

The crime occurred sometime in late November and apparently drew no one's attention.

Grant offered the thief a deal.

"You know now you can't sell it. This has become a worldwide story and if you'll just bring it back and leave it right here I'll forget the whole thing happened," he said.

Grant, 82, has for years overseen the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce's star unveilings, which often draw big crowds.

Peck, who died in 2003 at age 87, won an Academy Award for his portrayal of upstanding Southern lawyer Atticus Finch in 1962's "To Kill a Mockingbird."

His star was the fourth to be stolen since the Walk of Fame was inaugurated.

Jimmy Stewart's and Kirk Douglas' stars disappeared some years ago after being removed for construction and were later recovered by police in suburban South Gate. Gene Autry's star also vanished during a construction project. Grant once got a call saying it had been found in Iowa but it was never returned.