Winnie the Pooh gets star on Walk of Fame

LOS ANGELES - Squealing fans lined up ten deep on Hollywood's Walk of Fame today, a few hurling themselves through a phalanx of minders to get close to their idol - who wore only a red T-shirt over his yellow fur.

"Nobody went this crazy over Britney Spears," a photographer marvelled, as he and others snapped off shot after shot of the star. "Winnie - to your right!" another yelled.

The scene was the unveiling of the Hollywood Walk of Fame star for Winnie the Pooh, who is marking the 80th anniversary of the publication of his story in the London Evening News with an 18-month-long celebration hosted by the Walt Disney Co.

Pooh is among about a dozen animated stars, including Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Snow White, to merit a star on the famous sidewalk, where it joins nearby markers for Tim Allen, Rod Serling and Jane Russell.

"They're an important part of the industry now," Hollywood's Honorary Mayor Johnny Grant said of cartoon characters like Pooh. "Some of the movies (the studios) are putting out don't do so well, but animated characters are doing great business."

As a brass band played the Winnie the Pooh theme song and confetti fluttered down around Pooh and his pint-sized fans, Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger assured the shy pot-bellied star that "you really are worth all the bother."

Pooh generated US$6 billion in retail sales for Disney in 2005 - topped only by Mickey Mouse.

Longtime pals and castmates Rabbit, Eeyore and Tigger flew in from the Hundred Acre Wood to attend the star ceremony and a screening of the 1997 video Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin, was held at the nearby El Capitan Theater. A digitally remastered DVD of that video was also released on Tuesday.

But there were a couple of no-shows - Piglet and Christopher Robin. Presumably they had "other commitments."

- REUTERS

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