Johnny Grant was born on May 9, 1923 in Goldsboro, North Carolina; died on January 9, 2008 in Hollywood, California
For almost 30 years, Johnny Grant was known as the “Mayor of Hollywood,” an honorary title bestowed on him in 1980 by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Previous Mayor Monty Hall, host of “Let’s Make a Deal,” had recommended Grant for the honor, which led to Grant hosting over 500 celebrity inductions into the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As Honorary Mayor, Grant also played host to the red-carpet arrivals for the Oscars and produced the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade.
Johnny Grant began his career as a radio newscaster in Goldsboro, North Carolina in 1939. During coverage of a notorious murder trial of part-time preacher Irby Holmes, Grant reportedly convinced the judge to allow him to broadcast live, periodic reports on the trial, the first to allow a live mic into the classroom. After his conviction and death sentence, Holmes requested he be allowed to preach a final sermon; the judge refused this request but Grant reportedly delivered the sermon Holmes wrote on the air.
During World War II, Grant served in the Army Air Corps and hosted a daily radio show in New York City for service men and women during which he interviewed a number of entertainers. After his discharge from the service, Grant remained in New York and worked as a reporter for WINS. In 1952 Grant co-hosted, along with Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra, the first national telethon fundraiser; it benefitted American athletes participating in the Helsinki Olympics.
Johnny Grant appeared in several films, White Christmas (1954) and The Girl Can’t Help It (1956) and won two Emmy Awards. He was the only person to receive the Order of California–that state’s highest honor–twice. He lived at the Roosevelt Hotel and had his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.