Thursday, March 25, 2010

Whither Middle-Aged Scolds As TV Spokesmen?

Actress Nancy Walker, who played "Rosie" the waitress in a series of iconic 1970s and 1980s TV commercials for Bounty paper towels, died on this date in 1992, at the age of 70. You may not know her by name, but if you watch the 1 minute Bounty commercial below, you'll probably recognize her.

Have you noticed that television ads today no longer feature long-running fictional spokespeople?  Especially the middle-aged scolds like "Rosie" who seemed to be so popular in the 1970s.  Remember Mr. Whipple of "don't squeeze the Charmin" fame, or Mrs. Olsen for Folgers coffeee, or the lonely Maytag repairman?  Occasionally today, there'll be a particular TV commercial that will catch the popular imagination for some reason and so a few more ads will be made and run for another year or two.  But then they tend to get stale and peter out.  And the featured characters these days are much more likely to be "sassy" cartoon characters than seasoned character actors.  (Like the Budweiser iguanas, or the cokney Geico gecko.)  In contrast, these Bounty ads featuring "Rosie" the diner waitress ran for 20 years between 1970 and 1990. The Mr. Whipple Charmin ads ran from 1964 to 1985. And the Mrs. Olsen Folgers ads ran for a similar 21 years starting in 1964.

Apparently these Bounty ads were filmed in a real life, working diner that was located in New Jersey and had been there since WWII. But after the Bounty ads went off the air, the building was moved to its present location in Michigan in 1992. It's still an operating roadside restaurant there today. If you watch this 1971 Bounty commercial embedded below, can you tell that Nancy Walker who played "Rosie" was only 4'10" tall?

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