Thurl sang or spoke in many commercials over the years. Of
course, he is best-know as the voice of Tony the Tiger, but
his voice helped sell all sorts of products from cereal and hot dogs
to beer and cigarettes. Here are just some of the many
advertisements that have used Thurl's remarkable voice.
In the early 1950s the Mellomen recorded commercials for
Kellogg's Corn Flakes and Sugar Corn Pops. These cereal commercials
let to Thurl's most famous role, Tony the
Tiger (0:20). When Kellogg's introduced Sugar Frosted
Flakes, there were four characters proposed to market the cereal: Tony
the Tiger, Katy the Kangaroo, Newt the Gnu, and Elmer
the Elephant. Both Katy and Tony actually appeared on boxes of
Sugar Frosted Flakes and in commercials, but Katy was soon retired.
This is what Thurl had to say about how he got to do Tony's
voice, from an 2002 interview with Steve Pastis in Issue #23 of Cool
and Strange Music Magazine:
|We [The Mellomen] did some
Kellogg's spots for Sugar Corn Pops on the Andy Devine show.
The account man who handled the Kellogg account knew us and
knew me. When they came up with this new cereal, they
decided they wanted to have either Tony the Tiger, Elmer
the Elephant or some other animal. He said, "Why
don't we get a drawing of Tony and a sample script and send
it out to Thurl and see what he'll do with it?" So they
sent it out to me and I went into a studio.
The payoff line was that somebody would
ask, "Are Sugar Frosted Flakes any good?" and Tony
would say, "Good? They're great." I said,
"We've got to do something with the word 'great.' It's
got to explode when you say it. So we messed around with it
and I finally came up with Gr-r-r-r-r-r-reat!" We sent
that back to Chicago. They played it for the agency and for
Kellogg's and I've been doing him ever since.
Beginning in 1952 and for the next 53 years, Thurl was the sole
voice of Tony the Tiger. Several men have been credited as
Tony's "original" voice, including Roy Glenn, Tony Marvin,
and Dal McKennon. After Thurl's death in 2005, Lee Marshall was
selected to provide Tony's voice.
At one point the Mellomen were doing commercials for 28
different beers. Some of the brands they did were Brew
"102", Busch Bavarian, Grain Belt, Griesedieck, Pale Dry
Grand Prize, and Budweiser (0:18). The
quartet was also part of a larger group that also sang on another ad
for Budweiser (0:54).
Thurl's voice was featured in a spot for National
Bohemian Beer (0:57). Pictured at right is Mr. Boh, Thurl's
character, who says, "Oh boy, what a beer!"
Thurl recorded a commercial for Kool-Aid
Here is an ad for EZ-Pop popcorn
(0:58) featuring Thurl.
voices of the Mellomen were included on an animated commercial for Oscar
Mayer (0:54). The character pictured to the left is voiced by
Listen for Thurl at the end of this famous jingle for Sara
The Mellomen also backed up Robie Lester on a commercial for
Hills Bros Coffee.
Thurl was heard on a Coca-Cola commercial in the mid-1950s
on which he spoke the line--"What you need is a Coke!"
Thurl and the Mellomen even recorded commercials for gasoline.
Thurl was also heard on an ad for a car dealer in Chicago.
The Mellomen sang on an ad for Speedway
Power Fuel (0:59).
Thurl's voice is well-known to Chicago radio listeners because of
this commercial for Z-Frank Chevrolet
(0:54), which aired for over 20 years.
Here is another commercial heard on Chicago radio for a gasoline
additive, Standard Oil's De Icer
In the early days of television, the commercials were often done
by the cast of the show. One example was a commercial for SOS
scouring pads (1:19). The commercial featured Garry Moore, host
of I've Got a Secret, along with two other actors dressed as
Vikings. Their singing voices were dubbed, one of them by Thurl
another by Loulie Jean Norman.
Thurl as a Marlboro Man
(note the cigarette in his right hand)
The Mellomen did a lot of commercials for Gillette
Blue Blades (0:40). Here's another Gillette
(0:25) commercial with the Mellomen.
One of the only commercials to actually show Thurl on screen was
an ad for Marlboro (0:25). In this
ad, Thurl is walking down the street at night on his way to mail a
letter. In addition to being seen in the commercial, he sings
and does the voice over.
Thurl also provided the voice for Rocky the mountain goat the
mascot for the Great Northern Railway.
There are certainly many more commercials on which Thurl or the
Mellomen worked, but this page covers many of the most important.