Ol' Lonely and Newton Make Some Friends
Jesse White was born on January 3, 1917. He made his first amateur appearance as an actor at the age of 15. He had a very successful career in acting, appearing in many TV shows and movies to include, The Twilight Zone, Perry Mason, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Munsters and I Dream of Jeannie. He also played Fred Boone on the Andy Griffith Show. Fred Boone and his wife Jennie Boone never could get along with each other and were constantly fighting. Andy finally gets tired of it and hatches a plan to get them to love and respect each other and it works! That episode originally aired on February 6, 1961.
As recognizable as all those famous shows are to Baby Boomers and The Generation X crowd like me, Jesse White was known more for an advertising role that he portrayed. In 1967, Leo Burnett from Chicago hatched a genius plan that would cast Jesse White as the spokesman in the pioneering lead role of one of the longest running advertising campaigns in the history of television.
Any ideas what that was?
Jesse White was the very first Maytag repairman. If you never seen the commercials, you really missed a treat. The commercials depict Jesse as “The Loneliest Guy in Town” or “Ol’ Lonely” as he is often referred to, sitting at a repair shop with absolutely nothing to do. No phones ringing, no visitors, nothing to do. He plays solitaire, does crossword puzzles and other meaningless tasks with only his trusted companion Newton the Basset Hound as company.
Jesse White would go on to play this role until 1989, an astounding 22 years. After Jesse White, the role would live on and be portrayed by multiple actors including Gordon Jump, Hardy Rawls and Clay Jackson. Currently, the role is being played by Colin Ferguson who Maytag refers to as “The New Guy.” The ad campaign still runs to this very day, 53 years later. That could arguably be the longest running ad campaign in the history of advertising. What an amazing run!
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