Hollywood "mayor" Johnny Grant dies at 84

Thu Jan 10, 2008 2:22am EST
 
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Johnny Grant, a tireless show business figure dubbed the "honorary mayor of Hollywood" for his devotion to the historic movie industry hub, died on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Police Department said. He was 84.

Grant was perhaps best known for introducing celebrities when they got their stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But he also made 60 overseas trips to entertain U.S. troops with the USO, and recently returned from a mission to Guantanamo Bay.

He organized the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade, and closely oversaw the make-over of Hollywood Blvd, a tourist destination that had fallen into decay by the early 1990s.

Bespectacled and always beaming, Grant would greet tourists as if they were long-lost friends. His body was discovered in his room at the Roosevelt Hotel on Wednesday evening. The cause of death was not immediately known.

"There will never be anyone who loved Hollywood as much as he," actress Angie Dickinson told local TV station KCAL.

Added June Lockhart, "There was no man who was more greatly involved for public relations for Hollywood."

As a suburb of Los Angeles, Hollywood does not have a mayor, but Grant's half-century of cheerleading for the area earned him the honorary moniker. Grant, who never married, is survived by three sisters.

(Reporting by Dean Goodman)

 
<p>Honorary mayor of Hollywood Johnny Grant arrives for the premiere of his new film "Hollywood Homicide" in Los Angeles in this June 10, 2003 file photo. Grant, best known for his role in hosting Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremonies, died on January 9, 2008, according to local media. He was 84. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/Files</p>