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Mr. Hollywood Rules over the Walk of Fame

Johnny Grant is known as the honorary mayor of Hollywood.
Melissa Jaeger-Miller, NPR
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Johnny Grant is known as the honorary mayor of Hollywood.
Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, stars of <i>The Producers</i>, address the crowd on Hollywood Boulevard.
Melissa Jaeger-Miller, NPR /
/
Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, stars of The Producers, address the crowd on Hollywood Boulevard.
The unveiling ceremony on Hollywood Boulevard is one of Grant's favorite events.
Meliss Jaeger-Miller, NPR /
/
The unveiling ceremony on Hollywood Boulevard is one of Grant's favorite events.

At the age of 82, Johnny Grant's enthusiasm for Hollywood and the Walk of Fame is undiminished. He loves the unveiling ceremony and its bronze stars on Hollywood Boulevard. And Grant loves that the Walk of Fame sells Hollywood -- and its entertainers.

Grant has been Hollywood's biggest booster for more than five decades. As a kid growing up in a small North Carolina town, he had visions of movieland. Now, as Hollywood's so-called honorary mayor, he has his own star on the Walk of Fame.

Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane were recently honored with their own stars. A selection committee at the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce picked them from some 200 applicants.

For the privilege of being honored on the Walk of Fame, someone has to pay a $15,000 fee.

Broderick, star of The Producers, was sweetly enthusiastic about the day's honor when he stepped up on the red carpet to speak to the crowd.

Matthew Broderick's wife -- Sex and the City star Sarah Jessica Parker -- was there snapping pictures of her husband.

Walk of Fame impresario Johnny Grant fell in love with Sarah Jessica Parker, he said. It wasn't the first time he'd fallen for a Hollywood star. Ava Gardener -- a fellow North Carolinian -- was an early favorite. And Gardner's erstwhile husband, Frank Sinatra, was another legendary pal of Johnny Grant's.

His memories are vivid -- a scrapbook of moviedom's most glamorous, glorious dream-factory days.

Johnny Grant has a building named for him on Hollywood Boulevard these days. It's just across from the old Graumann's Chinese Theatre, and his Walk of Fame star. It's where the Chamber of Commerce has its offices. A plaque in front bears his image, in bas relief -- and identifies him as "Mr. Hollywood."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Nationally renowned broadcast journalist Susan Stamberg is a special correspondent for NPR.