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Hollywood's Honorary Mayor, Johnny Grant, Dies

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Johnny Grant was found dead tonight, around 7 p.m., on a bed at the Roosevelt Hotel where he lived on the 14th floor in a suite.

Grant, 84, has been one of Hollywood's most enthusiastic supporters for more than 50 years. Grant got his start in entertainment by hosting a daily radio show in New York City for servicemen and women during World War II, and later co-hosted the first national telethon ever produced to help send America's athletes to Helsinki Olympics in 1952. [CBS2]

In 1980, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce named Grant as the Honorary Mayor of Hollywood where he would preside over all the Walk of Fame ceremonies where Hollywood Stars were revealed on the revered boulevard. Grant may have not had too much of a presence when the recently revitalized Hollywood became a popular nighttime hotspot, but he was the joy and life of Hollywood. Two years ago this month, at the opening of the now retired Holly Trolley at Mood, we caught him with a huge smile on his face -- Tinseltown was making a comeback. The crowd of reporters cheered as he boarded the trolley for its first public run.

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"Johnny Grant was Hollywood's greatest star," Councilman Eric Garcetti, who represents the Hollywood Entertainment District, said in a statement tonight. "He brought Hollywood the industry and Hollywood the neighborhood together. He was at the center of the story of Hollywood" (full statement can be found after the jump).

A complete obituary can be found at the Times.

STATEMENT BY L.A. CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT ERIC GARCETTI REGARDING THE PASSING OF JOHNNY GRANT

Johnny Grant was Hollywood's greatest star. He brought Hollywood the industry and Hollywood the neighborhood together. He was at the center of the story of Hollywood. Johnny not only knew all the players that brought about Hollywood's first golden age, he was one of those participants that made it happen. He was our best booster, our unofficial historian, our neighborhood chairman, and the heart of this town.

There was hardly a player in Hollywood over the last seven decades who did not know Johnny. He defined class and commitment to his craft and to his adopted hometown. He not only helped usher in Hollywood's first golden age, but he stuck with Hollywood when many others abandoned it, and he helped usher in the second golden age that we are now seeing begin.

Johnny's love of Hollywood was mirrored by his unmatched patriotism. Just last month, we honored him for his 60th visit to U.S. troops as the number one USO ambassador. He holds the record for the most visits of any entertainer to our nation's troops, having lifted the morale of our men and women in uniform in every conflict since (and including) World War II.

Johnny was a dear, dear friend, and I and Hollywood are devastated by his passing. May Johnny Grant rest in peace.

Images from Johnny Grant's very own website and bio.