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Hollywood Honors Dr. Seuss - 2004-03-12

Doctor Seuss, author of Cat in the Hat and other children's classics, has been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as friends and fans celebrated his whimsical creations.

He inspired countless children around the world with his rhythmic prose, and along the way, created some memorable characters.

Born Theodor Seuss Geisel, he used his middle name as a pen name. On a transatlantic voyage, he adopted a writing cadence inspired by the repetitive sound of the ship's engine.

Young actress Alyson Stoner reads a typical selection.

"Look at me, look at me, look at me now. It is fun to have fun, but you have to know how. I can hold up the cup, and the milk, and the cake. I can hold up these books, and the fish on a rake. I can hold up the toy ship, and a little toy man, And look with my tail, I can hold a red fan."

Johnny Grant, known as the honorary mayor of Hollywood, presided over the ceremony on Hollywood Boulevard to honor Dr. Seuss.

"Hello, everyone, and welcome to a very special day in Tinseltown," he said. "This morning, we will honor a man who charmed his way into the consciousness of generations of youngsters and parents. And in so doing, he helped millions of children to learn to read. Today, we will place a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Dr. Seuss."

Child actor Spencer Breslin, who appeared in movie version of The Cat in the Hat, helped read the story with other child performers. It is the tale of two bored children who get an unexpected visit from a fantastic and mischievous creature.

"We looked, then we saw him step in on the mat. We looked and we saw him, the Cat in the Hat."

The oversized cat causes more trouble than the children had bargained for. The youthful performers recited the end of the story together.

"Then our mother came in and she said to us two, Did you have any fun? Tell me, what did you do? And Sally and I did not know what to say. Should we tell her the things that went on there that day? Should we tell her about it? Now, what should we do? Well, what would you do if your mother asked you?"

Theodor Geisel - or Ted, as his friends called him - was a modest man who avoided the limelight. His widow, Audrey Geisel, jokes that wouldn't have liked all the fuss that people are making over him.

"Ted would probably be saying Thank God I'm dead," she said. "He was a very private man. But I hopefully am not dead and I can say how much he appreciates that I can appreciate it for him. Thank you, thank you, Sam I Am."

Both an artist and writer, Theodor Geisel created memorable characters like Sam I Am and the Grinch. Costumed performers dressed as his creations took part in the ceremony.

Actress Marion Ross said Dr. Seuss tops the list of creative people who deserve to be honored here.

"The Hollywood Walk of Fame is the Who's Who of the all the famous people in show business," said Marion Ross. "And how appropriate for Dr. Seuss because he created all those Whos down in Whoville."

Long before he created the Whos of Whoville, Theodor Geisel published the first book, And to Think That I Heard it on Mulberry Street, some 65 years ago. His 44 published stories have entertained generations of children.

Tamara Matz, a teacher at nearby Selma Avenue Elementary School, brought her students to the Hollywood celebration. She says they're all big fans of the writer.

"I think one of the reasons they love Dr. Seuss is that I love Dr. Seuss, and have always loved Dr. Seuss," she said. "I think his use of language and wonderful illustrations, whimsy, silliness, they really enjoy that."

Dr. Seuss earned a special Pulitzer citation for his children's books and three Academy Awards for film versions of his writing. Johnny Grant says his legacy will continue.

"While Theodor Geisel died in 1991, Dr. Seuss lives on, inspiring generations of children of all ages to explore the joys of reading," said Johnny Grant."

Mr. Grant then read the last line of Dr. Seuss's final book, Oh, The Places You'll Go. It offers this encouraging advice about surmounting obstacles to its young readers, in Dr. Seuss's distinctive rhythms: "You're off to great places, it says. Today is your day. Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way."