"From North Carolina to the Stars"

Many North Carolinians have excelled in the entertainment industry with strong contributions to music, theater, television, radio, books and more. While I recognize the extraordinary talent of all of those individuals, a few of those stellar performers have received stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Tonight's theme is "Oscar Night," therefore, this hanging sculpture is titled:

"From North Carolina to the Stars" and is dedicated to those extraordinarily stellar North Carolinians who have made their mark and impact on Hollywood and have received stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Those men and women include the following:

Johnny Grant - made his show business debut on the radio in 1939, as a local newscaster for his hometown radio station, WGBR in Goldsboro, North Carolina. He went on to a career as a radio and television announcer and personality in the late 40s and was host of the television game show "Stop the Clock" in New York in 1946. From 1951 to 1959, he created and hosted Los Angeles radio station KMPC's "Freeway Club." As Hollywood's Honorary Mayor, Johnny has been one of the community's most enthusiastic supporters for more than 50 years. Johnny received his star in 1980 and in 1997 he was honored with a hand and footprint ceremony in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theater. I encourage you to research his life. His accomplishments are far too numerous and extraordinary to list here.

Earl Scruggs - was born and grew up near Shelby, North Carolina in Cleveland County. He developed a banjo picking style utilizing three fingers that was to become known world wide as "Scruggs-Style Picking." The banjo was "reborn" as a musical instrument due to the talent and prominence Earl Scruggs gave to the instrument. Earl is known by many as the "Father of Blue Grass." He is known for composing many songs including the theme song to "The Beverly Hill Billies." Earl received his star in 2003.

Andy Griffith - was born in 1926 in Mount Airy North Carolina. His career in the industry spans over fifty years. He is a Grammy Award winning singer, writer and producer best known as the star of "A Face in the Crowd" and "The Andy Griffith Show". Griffith created his own production company in 1972, which produced several movies and television series. In 1981 he was nominated for an Emmy for his portrayal in "Murder in Texas." In 1986 he produced and starred in the very successful television series "Matlock." The show spawned numerous television movies as well. When he accepted the People's Choice Award for this show, he stated that "Matlock" was his favorite role.

Ava Gardner - was born in the small farming community of Brogden, North Carolina. Gardner was the youngest of seven children of poor tobacco farmers. Her father, Jonas Bailey Gardner, was of Irish American and Tuscarora Indian descent. Gardner was an American actress and one of the great Hollywood film stars. Her film credits span over forty years. Her romantic connections involve some of the most powerful and influential men in Hollywood and the country, including Mickey Rooney, Howard Hughes, Artie Shaw, Frank Sinatra and Ernest Hemingway. She is listed as one of the American Film Institute's greatest stars of all time. Gardner is interred in the Sunset Memorial Park, Smithfield, North Carolina. The town of Smithfield now has an Ava Gardner Museum.

Rick Dees - As host of "Rick Dees Weekly Top Forty," he is heard on over 400 stations across the country and 70 countries worldwide. In addition, he is the immensely popular host of the "Rick Dees Morning Show" on KIIS/Los Angeles where he has dominated radio since 1982. Legendary radio personality and industry executive, he was raised in Greensboro, North Carolina. He began his career on a dare. A fellow student challenged him to audition for a local radio program. He got the job and has been on the air ever since. His ingrained sense of the absurd and fervent love of comedy have rocketed him to the top of the ratings in every city in which he's worked.