|Gordon Jump played the Maytag repairman for 15 years.
"Ol' Lonely," as the character is known, is one of the longest-running brand icons.
"While millions came to know Gordon as Maytag's symbol of dependability, our employees know him more as a treasured friend and colleague. We are thankful to have received the benefit of his incredible talent and professionalism all these years, and we wish him well," Bill Beer, president of Maytag Appliances, said in a statement.
Mr. Rawls, a character actor best known for his role as the father in Nickelodeon's Pete and Pete, will make his debut some time in 2004.
First dependability campaign
Maytag's advertising agency since 1955, Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, first built a testimonial campaign around the brand's dependability in 1961 after Maytag received letters from customers about the reliability of the washers and dryers. That effort spawned a radio call-in show in Canada, where an appliance repairman gave advice.
Burnett in 1967 created the Ol' Lonely character with Mr. White. His inaugural spot, "Drill Instructor," showed Mr. White guiding trainees in ways to pass the time with cards, crafts and crossword puzzles, because the appliances were "so darned reliable." Maytag last year celebrated the 35th anniversary of its famous fictitious repairman.
In 1989, Mr. Jump took over the reins in a spot titled "Biker," in which viewers learned that "neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night can keep the Maytag Repairman from his appointed rounds, even if the only thing he needs to fix ... is lunch." The spot ended with Mr. Jump making a hot dog.
In the 1980s, Ol' Lonely got a companion in Newton, a basset hound named after the company's home base Newton, Iowa, and in 2001, Maytag added a new sidekick, the Apprentice, who spends his time mulling over Maytag's product innovations. Mark Devine, who plays the apprentice, will return to the role alongside Mr. Rawls.