Top 25 Ad Icons of All-Time

Top 25 Ad Icons of All-Time
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Top 25 Ad Icons of All-Time

These 25 people did more than just take on the role of company mascot. They went on to become synonymous with the brand they pitched (or pitch, as the case may be). But who are the real people behind the icons?

To find out, click through our gallery as AOL Money & Finance counts down its list of the Top 25 Ad Icons of All-Time.

First Up: Top Ad Icon No. 25
"I'm a Pepper. He's a Pepper. Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper too? Be a Pepper. Drink Dr Pepper."

Dr Pepper's breakthrough to the mainstream came with this effective campaign. It ran from 1977 to 1985 and featured the singing and dancing talents of 26-year-old David Naughton as the original Dr Pepper guy. He is also well-known for starring in 'An American Werewolf in London.' More recently he has been seen in sitcoms such as 'Seinfeld' and 'Murder, She Wrote.'
Next: Top Ad Icon No. 24
"Double your pleasure, double your fun with Dubblemint gum."

According to "Going back three generations, consumers have associated Doublemint with twins. Created in the 1930s, the Doublemint twins are one of the most successful and long-lasting advertising campaigns ever developed in the U.S." As of 2005, the most recent "twins" are Natalie and Nicole Garza who ride their tandem bike enjoying the simple pleasure of their Wrigley's gum.

Next: Top Ad Icon No. 23
"It's just not dessert without the great fresh taste of Cool Whip."
In the 1970's, actress Marge Redmond played Mrs. Sarah Tucker, the owner of a quaint rural inn who always served Cool Whip to her guests as topping for her otherwise homemade desserts. Before starring in the TV commercials, she played a supporting role of Sister Jacqueline on the religious comedy 'The Flying Nun,' as shown here. Her most recent film was 1993's 'Manhattan Murder Mystery,' directed by Woody Allen. In 1997, she appeared in episodes of 'Law and Order.'
Next: Top Ad Icon No. 22
According to In the 1990s, Taster's Choice began running serialized spots starring British actors Sharon Maughan and Anthony Head that followed the romantic encounters of two who shared a fondness for Nescafe Gold Blend. The ads created a soap opera environment which teased the viewers to see whether the couple would progress beyond just sharing a cup of coffee. After their stint in the commercials, Head resurfaced in the TV series 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' as Giles, a school librarian; and Maughan turned to writing screenplays.
Next: Top Ad Icon No. 21
In 2002, Vaughn Lowery's famous "BOXER Boogie" dance helped make JOE BOXER one of Kmart's most successful brand launches. By 2003, Kmart created a computer interactive game called "Boxer Boogie Breakdown," where people could control the dancer and recreate the actual moves. Prior to 'BOXER,' Lowery was a model for companies such as GAP, Target, Skechers, Old Navy, and Mark Ecko. Since then, he has appeared on the 'Tyra Banks Show,' 'America's Next Top Model' and others.

Next: Top Ad Icon No. 20
"... and thank you for your support."
In the wine cooler spots, Frank Bartles (David J. Rufkahr) and Ed Jaymes (Dick Maugg) sat on the front porch of their country home and talked about their new discoveries or projects. Many people believed they owned the company they pitched for, although they didn't. After the ad campaign finished, Dave (the talker) and Dick (the quiet one) became, for a time, spokespersons for Golf Digest. Maugg returned to his general contracting business. Rufkahr died of a heart attack in April 1996.
Next: Top Ad Icon No. 19
Colombian coffee's longtime fictional spokesperson, Juan Valdez, was initially portrayed by Jose F. Duval in both print advertisements and on television until 1969. Duval died in 1993 at the age of 72. He also played the King in 'The King and I' in six productions over the years and had lead roles in 'Kismet,' 'South Pacific' and other musicals. He was also seen in several movies, including, 'The Mambo Kings.' Carlos Sanchez (pic. left) was the second Valdez from 1969 until 2006.

Next: Top Ad Icon No. 18
The baby portrait displayed on jars of Gerber baby food and in advertisements was created in 1927 by artist Dorothy Hope Smith. It was based on the image of Ann Turner Cook (pic. left), a friend of the family. As of the 1990s, Cook was a retired school English teacher and published mystery novelist. Her books include 'Trace Their Shadows,' 'Shadow Over Cedar Key', and 'Homosassa Shadows.'

' More on the 'Gerber Baby'

Next: Top Ad Icon No. 17
"My bologna has a first name, it's
O-S-C-A-R. My bologna has a second name, it's M-A-Y-E-R ..."

From Sporting a halo of brown curly hair, four-year-old child actor Andy Lambros starred in the classic Oscar Mayer commercial. The TV spot had the little boy holding a small fishing rod in his right hand, a bologna sandwich in his left, and singing the above jingle. In later years Andy Lambros opened an exotic pet store in Woodland Hills, Calif.; and ran CyberWeb and AnimalWeb, two Internet-based companies.
Next: Top Ad Icon No. 16
From "In the 90's, Snapple grew from a modest regional presence into a power-brand. As the brand's cult-like following grew, one of its employees, a young New Jersey native called Wendy Kaufman, took it upon herself to answer letters arriving at Snapple's head office. Her fame grew and soon (she was) starring in Snapple's TV advertising. The ads featured her responding to customer letters and were always natural, quirky, East Coast and consistent with the growing brand equity of Snapple." She appeared on 'Celebrity Fit Club' in 2005. Next: Top Ad Icon No. 15
In 1982, FedEx ran "Fast Paced World" spots featuring the fast-talking (450+ words-per-minute) John Moschitta, Jr.. He played Mr. Spleen, an executive speed-talking through his day at work. Moschitta is listed in the Guinness World Records as the fastest speaker. "Mightymouth" Moschitta also recorded a take on 10 classic novels in which he summarizes each book's entire story in one minute, and since then has made guest appearances on various sitcoms.

Next: Top Ad Icon No. 14
According to From 1963 to 1985, Virginia Christine played Mrs. Olsen, a Swedish woman who seemed to know all the young couples in town whose husbands never asked for a second cup of coffee. Or course, this was her cue to sell them on the idea of Folgers Coffee. She appeared in more than 150 movies and 300 TV shows after this commercial. Her last TV series job was providing voices to the cartoon 'Scooby and Scrappy-Doo' in 1979. Christine passed away in 1996.

Next: Top Ad Icon No. 13
"Dude, you're getting a Dell."

Benjamin Curtis played "Steven" in the "Dell Dude" ads from 2000 to 2003. In 2003, he was caught attempting to buy a small bag of marijuana. The case ended with Curtis's record being cleared if he remained clean for the next 12 months. Nevertheless, Dell fired Curtis due to company policy. In 2004, he was hired to lead the marketing campaign for Gameznflix. In 2007, he was working as a waiter in N.Y.C. and is currently the leader singer of his band, SAMVARA.
Next: Top Ad Icon No. 12
After losing 245 pounds in one year from eating a diet consisting primarily of Subway subs, Jared S. Fogle became a spokesman for the chain in 1999. Since Fogle's ad campaign began, Subway sales have more than doubled to $8.2 billion. Fogle continues to make appearances and get references in movies and TV shows such as 'Saturday Night Live,' 'The Simpsons,' 'South Park,' and 'Austin Powers in Goldmember.' He has also written a book: 'Jared, the Subway Guy: Winning Through Losing: 13 Lessons for Turning Your Life Around.'
Next: Top Ad Icon No. 11
"Time to make the donuts."
Dunkin' Donuts started this campaign in 1982. Actor Michael Vale portrayed "Fred the Baker" from the launch of the spots until 1997. In the ads, the sleepy baker would get up well before dawn because duty called and people were counting on him to "make the donuts." Vale was also was a longtime spokesman for Kraft Foods' Breakstone line of cottage cheese and sour cream products, and appeared in several television series and movies. He died in 2005, at the age of 83, from complications from diabetes.
Next: Top Ad Icon No. 10
Jane Withers was the spokesperson for Comet Cleanser throughout the 1960s and 1970s. She played Josephine the plumber, clad in white worker overalls and gave advice on the best way to get stubborn stains from sinks and tubs -- recommending Comet Cleanser, of course. As of 2002, Jane, a widow, lived in Northridge, Calif. with her world-class collection of dolls that she hopes one day to place in a museum for all the world to see.

Next: Top Ad Icon No. 9
From 1986 to 1990, and 1999 to 2001, actor David Leisure played Joe Isuzu, the fictional spokesman for Isuzu. Following his Isuzu days, Leisure has been seen in sitcoms such as 'Sabrina, the Teenage Witch' and 'Married With Children,' and has acted as an insurance lawyer in commercials for many American personal-injury law firms. He also enjoys spending "leisure" time on the golf course.

Next: Top Ad Icon No. 8
"Hey, Vern!"
Jim Varney was the man who played the infamous Ernest P. Worrell in commercials from 1980 to 1995. Though Ernest was used in various local campaigns and was never a spokesman for one national product or company, the character proved so popular that it was spun off into a TV series, 'Hey Vern, It's Ernest!' as well as a series of movies in the 1980s and 1990s. Varney did a few cartoon voice-overs, appeared in a few films, but by 2000, passed away from lung cancer.

Next: Top Ad Icon No. 7
"He likes it. Hey, Mikey!"

From 1971 to 1987, Life cereal ran an ad starring three young brothers, the most famous of which was Mikey, played by John Gilchrist, who portrayed the usually-picky eater as loving Life cereal. Gilchrist also appeared in more than 250 commercials for such products as Pepto Bismol, Skippy peanut butter, and Jell-O. Today, contrary to the popular rumor that he died from a diet of Pop Rocks and Coke, he works as a radio advertising executive.
Next: Top Ad Icon No. 6
"Where's the beef?"

This campaign for Wendy's fast-food restaurants starred an 81-year-old played by Clara Peller who was used to highlight Wendy's massive amounts of meat in their burgers. By 1985, Peller was fired from Wendy's after declaring that she had "found the beef" in an advertisement for Prego Plus spaghetti sauce. She then made a few guest appearances on television shows, but died at the age of 85 in 1987.

Next: Top Ad Icon No. 5
"You're soaking in it."

This slogan was famously stated by Jan Miner, an actress who played Madge the Manicurist in the Colgate-Palmolive Company commercials. Madge worked in the Salon East Beauty Parlor, where she pre-soaked all her customers' fingernails in Palmolive's green dish washing detergent. She played this role for 27 years, one of the longest ongoing product endorsement relationships in TV history. She died in 2004.

Next: Top Ad Icon No. 4
"It's the quicker picker upper."

Nancy Walker played "Rosie," who mopped countertops with the "quicker picker upper" in a series of commercials for Bounty paper towels between 1970 and 1990. The 4-foot 11-inch actress was also seen in a few sitcoms and played the role of "Aunt Angela" on The Golden Girls for which she received an Emmy Award nomination. She died in 1992 at the age of 69.
Next: Top Ad Icon No. 3
"The loneliest man in town"

In 1967, the Maytag Company hired Jesse White to portray the lonely Maytag Repairman, symbolizing the reliability of Maytag products and thus the lack of repair calls. Even though he was semi-retired during his time with Maytag, White appeared in a dozen movies after this, his last film being "Matinee" in 1993. White died in 1997 at the age of 78 from cardiac arrest.

Next: Top Ad Icon No. 2

The original Marlboro Man, John Bryant, has been seen in a number of Marlboro Cigarette TV commercials and print ads since the 1950s. The Marlboro TV commercials were discontinued when tobacco advertisements were legislated off the air in the 1970s. Bryant went on to play Dr. Robert Spaulding on the TV western, 'The Virginian.' He also recorded books for the blind and appeared in a few other movies.

Next: Top Ad Icon No. 1
"Please don't squeeze the Charmin"

Charmin toilet paper hired Dick Wilson to play the role of store manager, Mr. Whipple, in over 500 Charmin toilet paper television commercials from 1965 to 1989, and again in 1999. While this was what Wilson was known for, he also appeared in multiple films up until the 1980s. Nevertheless, he will always be remembered as secretly squeezing the Charmin.

Next: Three More to Remember
A list of spokesmen that became synonymous with the products they pitched wouldn't be complete without Orville Redenbacher, Dave Thomas from Wendy's and Kentucky Fried Chicken's Colonel Sanders. The difference? These folks were more than just hired mascots, they were the founders of their respective companies.

More: Companies That Vanished
More on AOL:
Companies to Remember

If you enjoyed that trip down Memory Lane, here's more blasts from the past: Remember E.F. Hutton? RCA? Reminisce about some companies that made a name for themselves, but didn't stand the test of time.

Click through our gallery as we count down's picks for the top 25 most memorable companies that have vanished.

Next Gallery:Top 25 Disappearing Acts