Sharon native Tony Butala joined a constellation of stars this week in Hollywood.
Butala, The Lettermen’s lone remaining original member, was honored Monday as the vocal group was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“I have lived in North Hollywood since I was 11, and I have witnessed countless people receiving Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, and other awards, but never did I think I would someday be on the receiving end of such an honor myself,’’ Butala said. “When I was notified that The Lettermen were to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it was something I could never have expected I would experience.’’
He said the ceremony emotionally overwhelmed him.
“The ceremony was so very impactful, and I had such emotions in my heart and tears in my eyes to actually see the star with the name The Lettermen,’’ he said. “I thought back over the 60-plus years, even the time before our first hit record, and reflected on the effort, dedication, and sacrifice on the part of every man who has been a Letterman, and I felt such enormous gratitude that we were being honored in such a prestigious way.”
Throughout his performing career, Butala kept close ties to the Shenango Valley community. Over the years, he’s held Lettermen concerts in the area to help raise funds for non-profit groups. He also has dedicated proceeds from concerts elsewhere for local causes such as the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in Sharon.
The Lettermen were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2001.
Butala is the only original member remaining from The Lettermen, formed in the 1950s. Their songs still are played on radio and are heard at gatherings – particularly at wedding receptions.
The Lettermen’s top hits include “Goin’ Out Of My Head,’’ “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You,’’ “When I Fall in Love” and “Put Your Head on my Shoulder.’’
Butala has semi-retired but still occasionally performs with the group, which continually has had three members in a rotating cast.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce oversees the Walk of Fame selection process. The walkway is a public sidewalk owned and maintained by the city of Los Angeles.
Stars are voted for inclusion each June, with an average of 20 to 24 stars selected from about 300 nominations, according to the Hollywood Walk of Fame’s website. The Lettermen Friends Fan Club nominated the group and sponsored the star.
Stars are made of terrazzo and brass, and honorees or their sponsors are required to submit $50,000 upon selection. The money is used to pay for creation and installation of the star, as well as maintenance of the Walk of Fame.
Entertainers can be nominated for inclusion on the Walk of Fame in one of five categories — motion pictures, television, radio, recording and live performance.