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Monday, June 04, 2012

Johnny Grant: The 'Mayor' of Hollywood & Me!

Something special came out of my visit to the Marilyn Monroe Event at the Hollywood Museum! Part of the permanent exhibit at the museum is a free-standing wall of photographs of celebrities receiving their Stars on the Walk of Fame. Most of those ceremonies were presided over by the Honorary Mayor of Hollywood, Johnny Grant. Elizabeth Montgomery's posthumous award was the very last ceremony that Johnny attended. He sadly passed away just five days later. I had the pleasure of spending quite a bit of time talking with him & posted a blog about him back in 2008: 'It is with great sadness that I discuss the death of the Honorary Mayor of Hollywood, Johnny Grant. I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Mr. Grant many times over the years & I'm delighted that I was able to have a long conversation with him last Friday as he unveiled his last star on Hollywood Blvd: Elizabeth Montgomery's. I'd like to share a story he told me about his first trip to Hollywood. Johnny came to California from North Carolina in the 1940's to serve in the Army in World War II. He was in Santa Monica & asked one of the guys how he could get to Hollywood. They told him to walk outside & stick out his thumb. The first car that drove by picked him up & the driver asked "Where you going Sarge?". He said "Take me to Hollywood!". The car dropped him off at Schwab's Drugstore, where he was greeted by Charlie Chaplin. He told me that the number one thing that got him through the war, was the thought of getting back to the place where he wanted to spend the rest of his life: Hollywood. He was a class act, who was sharp as a tack to the very end. He will be fondly remembered & greatly missed.' At the Hollywood Museum, I bumped into Johnny Grant's long time photographer, Robert Freeman. A couple days after the event, I received two photographs & this note from him: 'Hi Erin, I am so glad I could get these to you. I feel I have done something good here in Johnny's memory. You are the last celebrity I took photos of with him and I was his photographer for 20 years. My very best to you and yours, Bob'. Thank you, Bob! I'll treasure them. I'll always remember my time spent with Johnny & the twinkle in his eyes! Here is a video of the arrivals at the Star Ceremony: Here is Johnny's last star dedication: Videos from Mark Simpson, The Bewitched Collector.

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