January 31, 2008

Stars on Hollywood Blvd.

I'd never seen anything like it before as I arrived at Hollywood Blvd. this morning.

All this for the dedication of Suzanne Pleshette's star on the Walk of Fame?!!

The media trucks were lined up for blocks. Traffic was down to one lane from La Brea to Highland and jammed to the east as well. As I passed the Kodak theater, the cause for the media madness and its traffic tie up became evident. The Democrats were readying to ply their wares in the afternoon. But there was indeed a crowd on hand for Suzanne. The friends were gathered a half block east in front of Frederick's of Hollywood where Suzanne had promised me, on Jan.2, "You'll find it easily, instead of flying a flag outside, they will hang a bra!"

The sad events which followed my conversations that day with both Suzanne and Johnny Grant were almost like a B-script as Johnny's death was soon followed by Suzanne's. Johnny had promised me if Suzanne was not strong enough, he'd pipe the star ceremony to her wherever she was on the 31st, also her birthday. The star ceremony was the same as the hundred which had proceeded -- but no star-- and no Johnny.

The Chamber of Commerce's president Leron Gubler subbed as m.c., but Ana Nicole Martinez -- VP of media relations and as Johnny called her, "The Queen of the Walk of Fame" -- twice introduced Gubler as "Johnny." After all they had dedicated hundreds of stars together over the decades.

It was almost hopeless trying to hear the speeches by celebs lauding Suzanne. The noise from the heavy equipment passing on the one lane closest to the sidewalk drowned out most of their speeches. Bob Newhart finally gave up trying to talk over the noise as an ambulance with shrieking siren stopped directly in front of the gathering.

No one knew immediately that the ambulance had come to the aid of Gary Owens, who had suffered a sugar deficiency. I spoke with him at the ceremony's finale as he sat on the curbside attended by paramedics. He assured me he'd be OK. (I left messages for him or wife Arlette to call -- I'll keep you informed. At 5:11 p.m., Gary called to say he is OK and thanks for all of your interests.)

Marcia Wallace who costarred with Suzanne and Newhart recalled when she'd suffered a nervous breakdown and all friends and coworkers sent sentimental messages and gifts, "Suzanne sent me a fruit cake!" (Marcia has recovered from her own cancer bout "years ago,") she reassured all.

Longtime (50 years) friend -- she slept on his couch -- Arte Johnson sadly said Suzanne died on his birthday. Others on hand included Peter Donerz, Dick Van Dyke, Nancy Sinatra, Rip Taylor. Teary Tina Sinatra, who organized the Star event for friend Suzanne, said as she pointed to Suzanne's star, "We almost made it." Also there Patricia Barry...

A lunch followed in the Roosevelt Hotel's Oscar Room where speeches, mostly salty, told of Suzanne's sexy involvement with all. Dick Van Dyke reminded she turned him and Tom Poston got a role. Neile McQueen told of Suzanne and Steve McQueen -- before he married Neile, George Schlatter revealed a story about Suzanne and the celebrity father of one of his celebrity friends Sandra Moss, Barbara Davis Nikki Haskell and Peter Marshall also peppered the tribute with salty reminiscences.

Also on hand Suzanne's cousins John Pleshette and Ira Kaoplan -- who met for the first time at Suzanne's star ceremony. We all left the tribute to Suzanne Pleshette -- and Johnny Grant -- and moved a half block west to the Kodak theater where the warmth for the Hollywood duo was about to be replaced by a cold version of showbiz -- the political debates.

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