Hollywood's honorary mayor turns 84
EmptyHollywood's honorary mayor, Johnny Grant, celebrated his 84th birthday Wednesday surrounded by Tinseltown legends.
Mickey Rooney, Angie Dickinson and Mamie Van Doren were among those who turned out to fete Grant at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, where the first Academy Awards were presented in 1929, and where Grant lives.
Rooney lauded Grant's longtime service with the United Services Organization and his many contributions to the Hollywood community, calling him "a man who's practically seen it all."
Buzz Aldrin also attended the luncheon celebration, as did several uniformed service members. Among them was Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton, who said he saw Grant's USO Christmas show while serving in Vietnam.
"This is the town that dreams are made of and Johnny Grant is at the heart of making dreams come true," Bratton said.
Grant regaled his 120 guests with a host of memories, including meetings with D.W. Griffith, who directed the 1915 classic "The Birth of a Nation," and Elvis Presley, whom Grant described as "the politest kid you could ever meet."
He said Presley's famous manager, Col. Tom Parker, had given him one of the rocker's first singles.
"I'm hearing this racket like I never heard before," Grant recalled. "That was rock 'n' roll."
Of all his accomplishments in Hollywood, where he has lived for more than 50 years, Grant said he is most proud of three things: the Hollywood sign, the Walk of Fame and the Hollywood postmark.
"We're not supposed to have one because we're not our own city," he said. "But I got it."
Grant said he was tapped for lifelong tenure as Hollywood mayor and has no plans to retire early.