11/11/08

CITY ISLAND: EZRA MILLER MEETS...MR. WHIPPLE?

mr.whipple

Re: my recent television-centric memories: what do the following shows have in common (aside from being in perpetual re-runs on local syndicated television between 1970-1976)? "Get Smart", "The Partridge Family", "Nanny And the Professor", "Bewitched", "Hogan's Heroes", "I Dream Of Jeannie", "The Bill Cosby Show", "Petticoat Junction", "The Fugitive", "Gidget", and "The Flying Nun"?

The too-obscure-to-be-guessed-at answer is: Dick Wilson, a soft, mustachioed character actor who made at least one pit stop on most major network shows. A reliable, working character actor, he might never have expected to become well-known or super successful, but he did work an awful lot--not a bad place for a middle-aged actor to be.

And then along came the toilet paper company. Charmin cast Wilson as "Mr. Whipple", the fussy super-market manager who warned customers not to squeeze said brand of toilet paper. If Wilson didn't exactly become a household name, "Mr. Whipple" and his silly catchphrase certainly did. He achieved genuine television icon status for these commercials which I remember running throughout the mid to late seventies. Indeed I would occasionally see Wilson in one of the above-mentioned shows and suffer that strange spasm of confusion at seeing an actor I identified so strongly with a specific role "in the wrong place", playing somebody other than that character. (The most jarring example of this for me was William Frawley, aka Fred Mertz of "I Love Lucy" fame. Frawley turns up in dozens of movies beginning in the early thirties and I was always perplexed to see a younger Fred Mertz standing around playing something quite different than the passive, cheapskate landlord who I knew him to really be; generally Frawley's earlier roles were tough-talking gangsters or con artists).

whipple Wilson and Mr. Whipple, as you'll see in the longish (two minute) commercial I've posted below, became so well known that they were actually able to base this particular commercial on the no-doubt false premise of a hidden camera talking to customers who then are "surprised" and delighted at the appearance of television folk-hero Whipple/Wilson. By the way, Wilson died a couple of years ago in his mid-nineties. Apparently he received complimentary shipments of Charmin from Proctor&Gamble until the end of his life.

But the real news is: I've posted a short edited scene from "City Island" featuring the soon to be too-famous-to-talk-with-me Ezra Miller (and it won't be for selling toilet paper). Previously I've avoided posting edited versions of scenes from the film for piracy concerns, but the meaning of this scene is so obscure, so difficult to connect anything to, that I feel confident in its ultimate uselessness to everyone. Can anyone say "Da Bronx"?





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3 comments:

  1. I loved Mr. Whipple! It's kind of nice just to see his scolding face again.

    And I'm really glad to see you posting again. I wait (impatiently) for each and every City Island posting. It gives me such a thrill to see an actual edited clip. I really can't wait for this movie!

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  2. Big Mamazzze, if my grand son was here he would probably say..What are you
    looking at grandpa? Oh just a little something
    to squeeze..Charmin.....ciao

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  3. I worked on Law & Order for a number of years, but alas, I arrived in Season Seven, which was two years too late for me to meet:

    MADGE, THE PALMOLIVE LIQUID "MANICURIST"

    who appeared on an episode as a judge.

    Those crew people who were there that momentous day in the fake courtroom tell me it raised goosebumps unlike any other guest actor since Abe Vigoda (!). Crew members are usually too professional to seek autographs or photos with stars, but I understand that day, everybody wanted his or her picture taken with Judge Madge.

    They even got her to utter her famous line, as the camera rolled, "You're soaking in it."

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