The director who discovered the Bradys was the voice of a familiar commercial mascot
He also originated the voice of several beloved children's characters
In "And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor," Carol and all six of the Brady kids are at the supermarket when a strange man starts spying on them. He eventually introduces himself as Skip Farnum, a totally groovy TV commercial director. He thinks that the family would be just perfect for his new ad for a laundry detergent, Safe.
When the episode aired in 1971, audiences were already familiar with the man playing Skip Farnum, Paul Winchell. He made his fame as a ventriloquist, appearing multiple times on The Ed Sullivan Show and Cavalcade of Stars with his dummies. In 1950 he was even given his own program, titled The Paul Winchell Show that ran for six years.
He popped up on episodes of Laugh-In, The Lucy Show, and Perry Mason, among others.
Around the time he turned up to make the Bradys into TV commercial stars, he was making the transition in voice acting. He originated the voices of Dick Dastardly from Wacky Races, the villain Gargamel on The Smurfs, and he even won a Grammy award for his work as Tigger in the Winnie-The-Pooh franchise. Yes, if you don't recognize Winchell on sight, you certainly know his voice from somewhere.
But there's one voice acting role of his that's probably even more famous than those, and it's one that you probably know by heart.
A commercial aired in 1970. In a simple animated style, a boy asks different animals — a cow, fox, turtle, and owl — the famous question: "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie pop?"
You're probably more familiar with the shortened version, which still runs on TV to this day. That's more than fifty years! In this one, he only asks the owl, who replies, "Let's find out. One, two, three"… and then bites the Tootsie pop before handing the stick back to the boy.
The boy is voiced by Buddy Foster, the older brother of Jodie Foster, who could be seen on Green Acres or Mayberry R.F.D. And the owl? None other than our friend, Paul Winchell.
So while you're watching the Bradys get convinced to be on a TV commercial, know that Paul Winchell would know better than anyone what that's like!
Watch The Brady Bunch on MeTV!
Sundays at 12 & 12:30 PM*available in most MeTV markets
Affair) is the voice of the kid in all the Tootsie Pop commercials
Jero once showed me a picture of Paul before he'd had a nose job, and another photo of Winchell sitting on Jero's lap (as a "ventriloquist dummy") on the pool deck of the Fontainebleau Hotel. Magon said that was the *only* time Paul would ever pose for a photo like that.
Jero also asserted that Winchell's dummy "Jerry Mahoney" was named in honor of him... "Jerry" being a derivative of Jerome and Mahoney using the same "Ma" as Jero's last name of Magon. Jero lived to be 95.
But the news *was* true, and the article was simply posted before she knew. I seem to remember she pulled it down very shortly thereafter.
Be on the lookout for "The Case Of The Nervous Neighbor" on Perry Mason - in which Paul Winchell plays a really, REALLY bad guy!
(One example to serve for many.)
I enjoyed "Winchell Mahoney Time" when I was a boy, right after "The Soupy Sales Show."
Sadly, it's not as impressive as it was the first time. A lot of repetition