Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Story of “Hi, Guy!”

Good entertainment can be burned in your mind forever. Even television commercials. Of course, that’s what the sponsor wants.

Commercials can be tremendously clever and so can the actors who work on them. And one of those actors is Chuck McCann.

Chuck’s had an incredible career. He made his name in a part of television that’s obsolete—the live, low-budget children’s show, where you could see some of the most creative and funny programming ever thought up at the spur of the moment. But he became recognised across a continent when he was cast in ad campaign in 1969 for Right Guard as a slightly unhinged next-door neighbour on the other side of a shared medicine cabinet.

You couldn’t turn on a TV at one time without hearing Chuck shout “Hi, guy!” at a somewhat uncomfortable Bill Fiore. The catchphrase became one of many spawned by television commercials.

Chuck is on Facebook and, for reasons quite unknown to me, sent me a friend request. My spotty television work ended a long time ago and my commercial work (on radio) even longer so I’m positive Chuck doesn’t know about any of it. But an unexpected benefit has resulted from being Chuck’s friend. I’ve learned the story behind his most famous TV gig.

I’m going to leave Chuck’s spelling, punctuation and so on, intact. He bashed it out so there are a few typos.

The name of the actor I did worked with in the first and last few commercials was Bill Fiorie..He reminded me of an actor and comedian I had just worked with in Hollywood named, Hamilton Camp and we were always saying in a nasal twang to each other Hiiiiiiii Guyyyyy!!!!!!! it drove everybody on the set crazy, so when I saw Bill who was Hamilton's size it reminded me of Hamilton, and I add libed it, in the spot..When Bill first opens the cabnit door, I think the original copy read hello there I'm your next door neighbor.....But I felt that it needed something bigger to help with the shock of Bill seeing someone on the other side of his medicine cabnit, so looking at Bill and thinking of the resemblance to Hamilton, I blurt out HIIIII>>>GUYYYYYY!!!w The first spot we did was a test for the commercial and there wasn't a lot of laughs in it.. so Joe Bologna The great actor, director, with his great comedic mind, saw the gold in what we were doing The one shot, and I'm good for the whole day was just supposed to be said straight.. But there was a Greek airline commercial on the air, at the time.and I remembered one of the passengers doing a Greek dance while getting on board with his arms over his head, snapping his fingers..I don't know what came over me at the time, so I exited the shot imitating the dance,arms raised snapping my fingers saying, "One shot and I'm good for the whole day" The crew broke up and Bill turned around and faced the camera and added a button.calling out to an imaginary wife... addlibed ..Margret.. Joe sid hey It's a test do it again.. So on every other try bill addlibed a different name to button My exit..after many takes he picked Mona and commercial history was made...If I remember corectly the commercial was so successful Gillette's stock rose by many Points...We did them for many many years

According to Jim Hall’s book ‘Mighty Minutes,’ ad agency BBDO came up with a series of five spots, ending the campaign in 1972, then bringing it back in 1978 (why argue with success?). Here’s the first commercial that began airing 42 years ago. It doesn’t seem that long ago, does it?



As this is a post about commercials, it’s only fitting I give a very unsolicited commercial for Chuck’s web site (click on the blue link). Chuck’s got some great old video up, but he’s also involved with new projects, too. A shame not one of them includes the words “Hi, guy!” You almost come to expect it.

2 comments:

  1. Excellent article about one of the most memorable commercials. It was especially interesting to note Chuck's friendship with Hamilton Camp, a multi-talented fellow who lent his face or voice to many live-action shows and animated cartoons (including "Tiny Toon Adventures"). Camp passed away in 2005 but as he said in a M*A*S*H appearance, "That's okay, Mr. Sock. Mr. Toe doesn't mind a bit."

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  2. As a kid, I was fortunate enough to see Chuck McCann every day on New York’s WPIX 11. At the time, there were many guys doing the type of show Chuck did, but his was my favorite. I can still hear his rendition of the song “Put on a Happy Face” echoing in the recesses of my mind! You couldn’t ask for better after-school entertainment!

    And, if you didn’t “touch that dial”, later in the early evening came shows like Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear! It didn’t get much better than that!

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