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Five (In)Famous Commerical Spokespeople--Whatever Happened To Them?
Sitting . . . Watching Memory Lane
There is a commercial for Time Warner Cable that aired a year or two ago, advertising HDTV channels for free whereas Dish charges you for it. What made this commercial memorable for my family was the bizarre logic that this idiotic family man used to deduce that Dish Network hated puppies. To be honest, my family doesn't really see a difference with HDTV, regardless of the television, so the commercial didn't mean too much. It was simply the argument that went from Dish charging for HDTV to hating puppies.
Since this is an "old" commercial, I began to remember some other very old commercials. I remembered the Toys R' Us giraffe and that little jingle. I remembered the soup commercial with the little snowman melting into a boy from the warmth of chicken noodle soup (which is still running). I remembered the Snapple Lady.
She is the oldest steady commercial spokeswoman that I remember. Whatever happened to her? Some people say that she died? What about other famous commercial spokespeople? Whatever happened to them? Well, I remembered four others and researched what they are doing now. But I found it kind of sad that every google search had their names or persona's name with the word "dead" after it.
She's Not Dead
5. The Snapple Lady
Otherwise known as Wendy Kaufman, the Snapple Lady was a peppy, high energetic woman behind a huge desk that answered fan mail about Snapple. She was pretty funny! Even as a six-something year old girl, I remembered laughing at her comments. So, with movement as quick as the growth of finger nails, I researched a little of how she became the Snapple Lady and what happened afterwards.
Kaufman apparently wrote a fan letter to a Brady, which was unanswered. But we will return to this. She grew up in New York State and attended high school and college there. She ended up being graduated from Syracuse University in 1980 and went to work for the Snapple company. She was able to get this job because her friend was the daughter of one of the owners, apparently. She found, while working there, that a lot of people sent in fan mail about the beverage. This is where her forgotten and unanswered letter to a Brady Bunch character comes into play.
She remembered how sad she was about that letter, so she wrote replies to the fan mail in her spare time. It was found out and made into a marketing scheme that was well-received. Unfortunately, when Snapple was bought by a different company, she was let go but then reinstated as a "Snapple Goodwill Ambassador" in 1997.
Kaufman, after leaving Snapple, did act a little bit. But that was never something she strongly pursued. Now, the Snapple Lady appears every once in a while in various productions by VH1 and is a partner in a company that produces active wear for plus-sized women. She still takes classes at colleges and is still living on strongly.
He's Not Dead Either
4. Little Mikey!
My father is named Michael, and this spokesperson's appearance made him loathe his name. A pair of boys are sitting in their kitchen, staring at a bowl of cereal that is supposedly good for you and good tasting. They don't want to take the plunge. Instead, they do what any good older sibling would--push it onto the youngest. Little Mikey, the third boy, apparently hates everything. But he begins to devour the Life brand cereal. Then, here comes the catch phrase!
Rumors had it, that a few months after the commercial aired, that Little Mikey, or John Gilchrist, died by eating pop-rocks and drinking soda--thus dawning the age of an urban legend that people keep on disproving and people keep on believing. But Gilchrist is quite alive and well. He is an advertising-account manager.
His big impact off the screen, however, meant that a lot of people were scared to have pop-rocks and soda at the same time. But hey, the cereal is still good.
Neither is He
3. Slacker Steve
This advertisement put Dell Computers on the map for me. I hadn't even bothered reading or knowing anything about Dell before these commercials--it was all about Gateway at the time. But this guy called "Slacker Steve", viewed as annoying to some, would pop out of nowhere to excitedly tell people just what computer they were getting. It really worked on me. My family's first computer was a Dell!
This guys name is actually Ben Curtis. He comes from Tennessee and actually has a lot of experience with magic and illusion. He went to college at NYU and learned about theater performance. He can do mime, magic, music and acting. Pretty cool, if you ask me.
But, as some of you may know, Curtis was arrested for trying to purchase a bag of marijuana. This was on February 9, 2003. But Curtis did a lot of charity work, so the judge went easy on him and all he had to do what keep a clean record for a year. Soon after, he was dropped from Dell, but it remains unclear as to why.
What Curtis did after was work for Boca Raton. It's an ad service, apparently. He acted in an Off-Broadway comedy, starred in a short film, formed a rock band, and appeared on various television shows.
He's Really Alive
2. "Zoom-Zoom" Boy
You are watching television and a car commercial comes on. The "Zoom-Zoom" song is heard in the background as some deep-voiced announcer tells you about a really fast Mazda car. Then a little boy in a suit pops onto the screen and whispers "Zoom-Zoom". It takes all of two seconds, but the kid makes impact.
His name is Micah Kanters. Not much is known about him, but he is alive and out there. From what I found out, he was ten when he was in the commercials, he has two sisters, and he should have graduated college by now with a degree in history and might be going on with his plan for a law degree.
It's a short paragraph about Kanters, but I really remember him. Frankly, it was because I thought he was annoying. More than annoying. I couldn't stand it. But I'm glad to know he's doing well, like the others I've written about. I just don't know how to feel about how close in age we are.
He's Alive Too
1. FCR Band's Frontman
They had worn pirate hats, worked in sea-food restaurants, and lived in a parent's basement all to make a point that you can go online to see your credit score--for free. They really kicked up the website's business, but were replaced by a new band a few years after their debut.
The front man is a French Canadian named Eric Voilette. Believe it or not, that is not his voice in the commercial. He speaks with a heavy accent, so he was told to lip-synch. But he is way more than just a pretty face concerned about everyone's credit scores. And to many, he was a welcomed, humor-inducing change from the dread that usually accompanies a credit score.
Voilette received training for acting in Canada. And he still acts in commercials in Canada, as well as some films. He does a lot with music and even has his own band called "God Against God". In short, he is doing well.
And so . . .
It's a pity to admit it, but commercial icons can be just as popular as movie stars. If something works in advertisement, it is used. Soon, those figures become household conversations and their catch phrases live down, even years after their commercials come off the air. Just think back to your favorite commercial. What was it about? How did they advertise? What did it look like? You probably remember it very well.
It's just mere curiosity to investigate what had happened to these figures. But I hope that these five people (Wendy Kaufman, John Gilchrist, Eric Voilette, Ben Curtis, and Micah Kanters) know that I don't just remember what they were trying to sell me. I remember them.