CD13 Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell unveiled a plaque honoring former Councilmember Tom LaBonge at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in the heart of Hollywood. This is the first and only plaque in Hollywood, one of LaBonge’s favorite parts of the city, honoring the beloved City Councilmember, who passed away suddenly last year and was most well known for his deep affection for the city.
O’Farrell was joined by the LaBonge’s wife Brigid, his children Charles and Mary Catherine, Hollywood community leaders and former LaBonge staffers for the unveiling ceremony this afternoon.
O’Farrell noted the location of plaque, on the Johnny Grant Building, perfectly suited LaBonge, who was known as “Mr. Los Angeles.” Grant was Hollywood’s Ceremonial Mayor, affectionally known as “Mr. Hollywood.” O’Farrell said he also had a personal connection to the building and to LaBonge decades before he ever worked with him. (The two served together for two years on the LA City Council.)
“When the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel re-opened in 1986, I worked here as a waiter in the restaurant Theodore’s,” said O’Farrell. “This is an historic place and there is no more fitting location to commemorate Tom LaBonge.”
O’Farrell introduce Anna Martinez from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, whom he described as the “heart and soul” of the star ceremonies for the Hollywood Walk of Fame and who worked with LaBonge for decades. Martinez recalled how LaBonge would bring pumpkin bread to ceremonies. Once he even got a donation from the widow of George Harrison to repair the oven at the convent where the bread was made. Following Martinez, Leron Gubler, chair of the Hollywood Heritage Trust, agreed this location for the plaque was perfect since the building housed the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce for more than 25 years.
“This truly was the heart of Hollywood for many years,” said Gubler. He said he was certain that LaBonge would be thrilled that he and Grant are both memorialized on the wall of the building.
“Both of them were icons of Hollywood and Los Angeles,” said Gubler.
O’Farrell thanked the LaBonge family for being there and continuing LaBonge’s legacy.
Brigid LaBonge noted it was sad and strange to be on the boulevard without her husband. But she thanked everyone for giving her an opportunity to do so, knowing that now that she’d done it once, she could do it again. Mrs. LaBonge became a little emotional as she recalled how much her husband loved the city. She noted that Hollywood Blvd was one of his favorite places because it was close to home and was always full of activity. In closing, she thanked the Hollywood leadership community for welcoming him in and loving him. “You allowed him to be him, cause that’s a lot!” she said.
“Let’s unveil this plaque in celebration of the man, the myth and the powerhouse,” concluded O’Farrell.
About Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.
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