01/10/08 — Star ... of a man: Wayne’s native son and Hollywood’s mayor was prince

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Star ... of a man: Wayne’s native son and Hollywood’s mayor was prince

It wasn’t Johnny Grant’s A-list celebrity Rolodex that made him special — nor was it his title as Hollywood’s honorary mayor.

What made the Wayne County native so special was that everyone else’s career achievements were as exciting to him as his own remarkable resume.

It is what made him so beloved in Hollywood and a fixture at every event. It is why he officiated over so many stars added to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

It is why everyone knew his name.

Grant’s warm smile and jovial laugh were real — and heartfelt. He acknowledged the struggles and sacrifices of those just starting their careers — as well as the lifetimes of achievements of those he watched grow into leading men and women.

He respected his business like no one else could — a love affair born from those first days of sitting in a darkened theater deciding that he wanted to be up on that screen someday.

But that career, although memorable, will not be the reason his memory is treasured in his hometown — or why so many were thrilled when he came back home with his friend, Anne Jeffreys, to be honored with a star on the Wayne Community College Honorary Walkway.

It is what you do when you are smart enough to recognize that there are some ties that can never be broken.

Johnny Grant might have been a star with many Hollywood heavyweights on his speed dial, but he is still a Wayne native son who has not forgotten where he came from and the friends he made along the way.

You could see it in his eyes when he came home — and hear it in his voice when he talked about his incredible decades of life in Hollywood.

In an age of high-priced and character-less stars, Grant was a prince, a man who cared about others and celebrated their milestones with them. He also earned the accolades he has received for his own career, and never forgot the people who helped him on his road to fame.

Johnny Grant knew the secret that escapes so many in the limelight these days. Emmys, Academy Awards and movie credits fade with time. What makes a man unforgettable is the impact he has had on others.

By that measure, this is a man who will never, ever, be forgotten in Hollywood, or at home.

Published in Editorials on January 10, 2008 11:12 AM