Yesterday, we were saddened to hear of the death of iconic Hollywood huckster, Johnny Grant at the age of 84. The unofficial “Mayor of Hollywood” for as long as anyone down here can remember, this dude seriously put the show in show business.
And though I never had the joy of meeting him, he has shopped at Christine’s store a number of times and she said he was just as bouncy, funny and awesomely insane as he appeared on TV. I’m not talking literally crazy, but bigger than life crazy. Like Angelene, or that loopy black dude with the singing puppet at the Hollywood Bowl, Johnny Grant was one-of-a-kind and a true Hollywood original.
In his seven-decade career Grant worked in TV, radio, movies and even hosted a couple of early game shows, but he’ll probably be best remembered for presiding over literally hundreds of Hollywood Walk of Fame induction ceremonies. And not only was he known as the “Mayor of Hollywood” but he was also the town’s biggest cheerleader!
Even before Hollywood Blvd. began it’s Hollywood & Highland/Kodak Theatre glamification in the 1990’s, Grant realized the importance of keeping the town’s legacy alive. And if that meant coaxing A-list talent down to hooker-strewn Hollywood Blvd. for a lively induction ceremony or the long-running Hollywood Christmas Parade, then so be it.
If you wanted some old-school star wattage at an event, Johnny Grant was your man. Young or old, celebrities loved him and more importantly, they showed up for shit when he invited them!
And though I still question his wisdom in awarding a star to “American Idol’s” Ryan Seacrest, I gotta say, that perky little dude with the glasses kept the Hollywood dream alive — not just for Angelenos, but for the world — even when the town itself was truly ghetto-tastic.
So for that, and the super cool fact that you awarded stars to a guy in a Godzilla suit, the surviving munchkins from “The Wizard of Oz”, and a muppet, we salute you, Johnny Grant! This town won’t be the same without you…