While Tony the Tiger got kisses from celebrities and posed for pictures after stamping his paws in cement at Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on Thursday, his voice, Thurl Ravenscroft, sat behind the scenes as he has for the last 45 years.
The 83-year-old Fullerton resident has provided Tony's voice in television commercials for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes since the character was created in 1952. He still makes about 15 new commercials for the cereal each year.
At Thursday's ceremony, Tony the Tiger had his paw prints immortalized in a block of cement that will be displayed in a museum in Battle Creek, Mich. When the tiger was asked to comment, a recording of Ravenscroft's voice blared: "This is gr-r-reat!"
"Tony is thrilled, and we are so very proud of him," said Karen Kafer, Kellogg's director of communications. "He's a Hollywood star, an inspiration to children."
Officials from Kellogg's then handed a $50,000 check to Athletes & Entertainers for Kids, a Los Angeles charity that helps disadvantaged youths.
"Tony's always been a personal hero of mine," said model Kathy Ireland, Athletes & Entertainers' national spokeswoman. "He brings a lot of joy to a lot of kids."
As he quietly watched celebrities surround Tony the Tiger to offer congratulatory hugs and handshakes, a fan of Ravenscroft's yelled "Thurl" and got his autograph.
The scene quickly shifted attention to Ravenscroft, and curious onlookers lined up for him to sign their boxes of cereal.
"His voice is what brought Tony the Tiger to life," Ralph Mayo, 36, said. "He actually is the person I was looking forward to seeing here. . . . To me, he is Tony the Tiger."