04/25/05 — They are city's stars, officially

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They are city's stars, officially

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 25, 2005 1:48 PM

As a fourth-grader at William Street School, Anne Jeffreys noticed a cute boy with blond curls and a round little face by the name of Johnny Grant on the playground.

"Our game at recess was to chase Johnny and try to catch him," she said. "He could run really fast."

On Sunday afternoon, the childhood schoolmates caught up with one another again as they became the first honorees of the Wayne Community College Honorary Walkway.

Johnny Grant and Anne Jeffreys

News-Argus/Mitch Loeber

Johnny Grant, left, and Anne Jeffreys share a laugh after unveiling Grant's star on Wayne Community Collegeƍs Walk of Fame on Sunday afternoon.

The Goldsboro natives, who became famous in the world of entertainment, already have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Sunday afternoon's celebration was the culmination of a weekend of festivities honoring Grant and Jeffreys.

"From Tinseltown to Hometown" began Friday evening, when Grant was interviewed by fellow Goldsboro native Carl Kasell of National Public Radio. On Saturday night, tribute was paid to Ms. Jeffreys in Moffatt Auditorium at Wayne Community.

At Saturday night's celebration, Dr. Geoff Weiss, an English professor at Mount Olive College, showed clips of Ms. Jeffreys' work over the years, interspersed with comments from the actress.

Ms. Jeffreys honed her acting talent in westerns, played gangster molls and chorus girls, performed on Broadway, and starred in the TV show "Topper," with her husband, Robert Sterling. She also has made appearances on such TV shows as "Bonanza," "L.A. Law," "Baywatch" and the soap operas "General Hospital" and "Port Charles."

The audience also was treated to scenes of Miss Jeffreys singing with Frank Sinatra in the 1943 film "Step Lively" and to a blooper reel in which Ms. Jeffreys introduced afternoon matinees for the American Movie Classics network. The outtakes showed her giggling over a blunder and making several attempts to pronounce Mickey Hargitay's name.

"Even Anne Jeffreys sometimes doesn't get it right on the first take," Weiss said.

During Saturday night's performance, Ms. Jeffreys sang several of her favorite songs, including "Getting to Know You," from "The King and I," and a medley from "Kiss Me, Kate," during which she was joined by her director and choreographer, Kevin Carlisle, in a dance following "Shall We Dance?"

On Sunday, Carlisle paid tribute to Miss Jeffreys before her star was unveiled.

"I have worked with lots and lots of people in Hollywood," he said. "You have honored one of the most gracious members of the Hollywood community today."

While Grant has presided over the unveiling of hundreds of stars as the honorary mayor of Hollywood, it was the first unveiling Ms. Jeffreys had attended in person.

Many of the stars in the Hollywood Walk of Fame have been presented without ceremony, Grant noted, Miss Jeffreys' among them.

"I have a star on Vine Street, but was never dedicated there," she said. "I didn't know I had one for years."

Among those honoring Jeffreys and Grant was Gov. Mike Easley. A letter written by the governor congratulating them on their achievements was read at Sunday's ceremony.

Both recipients expressed appreciation to all those involved in organizing the tribute.

"I love my home state, I love my hometown and it's a thrill to be back here," Miss Jeffreys said. "I'm so honored to have a star here."