12/12/04 — Hollywood hooray planned for spring

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Hollywood hooray planned for spring

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 12, 2004 2:05 AM

A three-day gala called "From Tinsel Town to Hometown" is planned for the spring to honor two Goldsboro-born celebrities who went on to find fame and fortune in Hollywood.

Actress Anne Jeffreys and Johnny Grant, Hollywood's honorary mayor, will be feted at events in April geared to raise money for scholarships to Wayne Community College.

The weekend promises to be as sparkling as the stars it honors, said Jack Kannan, director of the Wayne Community College Foundation, the college's fund-raising organization.

On Friday, April 22, beginning at 6 p.m. at Walnut Creek Country Club, the 81-year-old Grant will be the guest of honor.

Grant, who started his career at Goldsboro radio station WGBR, will be interviewed for a program that will later be broadcast on radio and television.

The program will be followed by dinner. Seating for the event is limited, with tickets being sold for $50 each.

On Saturday evening, Ms. Jeffreys will be in the spotlight. Cocktail parties will be held in homes throughout the area prior to an event at Moffatt Auditorium on the Wayne Community College campus starting at 8 p.m.

Ms. Jeffreys has a wide range of experience in Broadway plays, where she met husband Robert Sterling. The couple moved to California and starred together in the popular TV show "Topper." Ms. Jeffreys has also appeared in movies and such television shows as "General Hospital" and "Baywatch."

The first half of the program will focus on Ms. Jeffreys' career. Interspersed with film clips, Dr. Geoff Weiss of Mount Olive College will interview her. The second act will feature performers paying tribute to her work, with Ms. Jeffreys scheduled to perform, as well.

A dessert reception will follow.

Tickets to this event are also $50 per person.

Sunday's event will begin at 2 p.m. in front of Paramount Theatre on Center Street. Kannan said it will be Goldsboro's version of the Hollywood "Walk of Fame." There is no charge for the event, which is open to the public.

Kannan said Grant, who typically unveils each "star" on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, will conduct the ceremony as Ms. Jeffreys becomes the first local recipient. Goldsboro Mayor Al King will then present the next award to Grant.

In addition to serving as its honorary mayor, Grant has been considered a key player in the revitalization of Hollywood, said Winkie Lee, News-Argus feature editor and gala event chairman.

"He has played a very big role in the Hollywood Christmas parade and has done more USO tours than Bob Hope," she said.

Ms. Lee said that when Grant was young, he saw a Mickey Rooney movie and thought, "if he could do that, I can do it."

After completing a stint in the military, she said, Grant made his home in Hollywood shortly after World War II. He has had a career in radio, TV and movies.

Both Grant and Ms. Jeffreys still have family in the area and visit on occasion. They were each among those honored when the Wayne County Museum introduced its "Wall of Fame," but Ms. Lee said this is the first time they have been recognized individually for their accomplishments.

She said the gala could also spark a ripple effect.

"We're not only honoring our own and offering a celebration of arts and offering scholarship opportunities for students to go to school, but this can also build on tourism, as well," she said.

Kannan said interest in the events has generated response from a variety of directions.

"The city has been working with us, as well as Downtown Goldsboro Development Corporation," he said. "The museum has agreed to have a reception immediately following Sunday's function, and we're getting the school system to come up with a band for Sunday."

Even though plans for the weekend are still in the preliminary stages, Kannan said, a number of people have expressed an interest in purchasing tickets.

"They would make a great Christmas gift," he said.

Gift cards for each evening can be purchased through Dec. 21, when Wayne Community College breaks for the holidays. Contact the foundation office at 735-5151, extension 246 or 745.