“Mr. Whipple” TV actor Dick Wilson dies

Dick Wilson, the actor and pitchman who played the uptight grocer begging customers “Please, don’t squeeze the Charmin,” died Monday. He was 91. The man famous as TV’s “Mr. Whipple” died of natural causes at the Motion Picture & Television Fund Hospital in Woodland Hills, said his daughter Melanie Wilson, who is known for her role as a flight attendant on the ABC sitcom “Perfect Strangers.” Over 21 years, Wilson made more than 500 commercials as Mr. George Whipple, a man consumed with keeping bubbly housewives from fondling the soft toilet paper. The punch line of most spots was that Whipple himself was a closeted Charmin-squeezer. Wilson also played a drunk on several episodes of “Bewitched,” as appeared as various characters on “Hogan’s Heroes,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” and Walt Disney productions. The first of his Charmin commercials aired in 1964 and by the time the campaign ended in 1985, the tag line and Wilson were pop culture touchstones. “Everybody says, ‘Where did they find you?’ I say I was never lost. I’ve been an actor for 55 years,” Wilson told the San Francisco Examiner in 1985. Though Wilson said he initially resisted commercial work, he learned to appreciate its nuance. “It’s the hardest thing to do in the entire acting realm. You’ve got 24 seconds to introduce yourself, introduce the product, say something nice about it and get off gracefully.” Dennis Legault, Procter & Gamble’s Charmin brand manager, said in a statement that Wilson deserves much of the credit for the product’s success in the marketplace. He called the Mr. Whipple character “one of the most recognizable faces in the history of American advertising.” After Wilson retired, he continued to do occasional guest appearances for the brand and act on television. He declared himself not impressed with modern cinema. “The kind of pictures they’re making today, I’ll stick with toilet paper,” he told The Associated Press in 1985. Procter & Gamble eventually replaced the Whipple ads with cartoon bears, but brought Wilson (as Whipple) back for an encore in 1999. The ad showed Wilson “coming out of retirement” against the advice of his golfing and poker buddies for one more chance to sell Charmin. “He is part of the culture,” his daughter said. “He was still funny to the very end. That’s his legacy.” He was born in England in 1916, the son of a vaudeville entertainer and a singer. He moved to Canada as a child, serving in the Canadian Air Force during World War II, and became a U.S. citizen in 1954, he told the AP. In addition to Melanie, Wilson is survived by his wife, Meg; a son, Stuart; and another daughter, Wendy. Here he is with the Forbidden Planet’s Robby the Robot in a Charmin TV commercial that was taped sometime in...

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Charlotte Transit Kills Another Person

Taken from here: A man was killed Sunday after he was hit by a light rail train. It happened just before 8 p.m. Charlotte Area Transit System officials tell Eyewitness News that the man was sitting on the tracks at the corner of South Boulevard and Old Pineville Road. Investigators are trying to figure out why the man was on the tracks. They’ll be reviewing on-board video from the train to help in the investigation. Not the first person to die at Charlotte Transit’s hands either. (But my Google searching is mush today and I can’t find any...

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Charles Nelson Reilly died

From here: LOS ANGELES (AP) – Charles Nelson Reilly, the Tony Award winner who later became known for his ribald appearances on the “Tonight Show” and various game shows, has died. He was 76. Reilly died Sunday in Los Angeles of complications from pneumonia, his partner, Patrick Hughes, told the New York Times. Reilly began his career in New York City, taking acting classes at a studio with Steve McQueen, Geraldine Page and Hal Holbrook. In 1962, he appeared on Broadway as Bud Frump in the original Broadway production of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” The role won Reilly a Tony Award. He was nominated for a Tony again for playing Cornelius in “Hello, Dolly!” In 1997 he received another nomination for directing Julie Harris and Charles Durning in a revival of “The Gin Game.” After moving to Hollywood in 1960s he appeared as the nervous Claymore Gregg on TV’s “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” and as a featured guest on “The Dean Martin Show.” He gained fame by becoming what he described as a “game show fixture” in the 1970s and 80s. He was a regular on programs like “Match Game” and “Hollywood Squares,” often wearing giant glasses and colorful suits with ascots. His larger-than-life persona and affinity for double-entendres also landed him on the “Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson more than 95 times. Reilly ruefully admitted his wild game show appearances adversely affected his acting career. “You can’t do anything else once you do game shows,” he told The Advocate, the national gay magazine, in 2001. “You have no career.” His final work was an autobiographical one-man show, “Save It for the Stage: The Life of Reilly,” about his family life growing up in the Bronx. The title grew out of the fact that when he would act out as a child, his mother would often admonish him to “save it for the stage.” The stage show was made into the 2006 feature film called “The Life of Reilly.” Reilly’s openly gay television persona was ahead of its time, and sometimes stood in his way. He recalled a network executive telling him “they don’t let queers on television.” Hughes, his only immediate survivor, said Reilly had been ill for more than a year. No memorial plans had been announced. I remember him from the upper right corner of all those Match Game shows. Here’s a clip from when Charles Nelson Reilly get a tired Gene Rayburn mad on the show, and Charles has to take over the hosting...

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