And just for the fun of it he's talked Clint Eastwood into backing a beer named after his 1985 Western, "Pale Rider." Imagine how much Tony could have accomplished if he didn't take time out to sleep 5 hours a night.
I first met Tony when I was working as an Ad Age reporter out of our Chicago office many, many years ago. I got word of a new Gillette hair gel product called Dippity-Do, and I called the agency handling it and asked for the account guy on the product. That was Tony, and he told me exactly what I wanted to know -- Dippity-Do was being tested in stores in Dayton, Ohio.
Hours later I got a call back from Tony. He had been a little too forthcoming with me about the exact whereabouts of the Gillette gel, and he wanted to make sure I would not, under any circumstances, divulge my source's identity. "I thought I was going to lose my job," he told me.
Wild horses couldn't have dragged that information out of me, and Tony and I, linked by our common interest in a hair gel, have followed each other's careers with great interest.
Tony's been slightly more mobile than me. He's worked at the old North Advertising, home of Dippity-Do, Bloom Cos., Campbell Mithun Esty and now McKinney & Silver.
Back in the early '80s, when Braniff Airlines was on the ropes, Tony came up with the idea for the "Great Braniff dollar sale!" -- buy one round-trip ticket, get the second for a dollar. The two-day promo pulled hoards of takers and produced lots of quick cash, but it wasn't enough to keep Braniff flying for very much longer.
Tony got the idea for the Clint Eastwood brew when he read an article on microbrewing, and he remembered being in Mr. Eastwood's Carmel bar, Hog's Breath Inn. So Tony thought it would be a great idea for Clint to back his own microbrew.
Tony called a friend, Dennis Holt, whose Western International Media handles media buying for Clint's movies. He set up a meeting with Eastwood's manager.
Told Clint wouldn't be there, Tony pitched his idea to the manager. But after Tony finished, the manager said, "What do you think, Clint?"
From an adjoining room, Clint's voice came back, "I like the idea." They tested eight different names -- Clint liked The Beer with No Name, after the anonymous antihero he portrayed in the three spaghetti Westerns he made for director Sergio Leone.
But "Pale Rider," a later Western, won the shootout.
Tony got a subsidiary of Miller Brewing Co. to brew the beer (Miller owns it; Clint gets a royalty; and so far Tony has not made a dime). Clint helped come up with the taste. They tested the brew at a cast party in Savannah during the shooting for "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," and the actor said, "Yeah, that's just about it."
Pale Rider Ale, after being tested in several markets, is now sold in Arizona, Colorado, Texas and New Mexico, but without any ad support. "It's a bootstrap effort," Tony says.
But he's already on to another project. His play, a Neil Simon-type comedy, had a reading at the Coronet Theater in Los Angeles, and Tony's working on the revision.
Now it's obvious that Tony isn't getting rich from all this activity, so why does he keep up such a frenetic pace? Years ago, in 1962, his 8-month-old daughter died of spina bifida and he contracted a rare intestinal disease.
And then he lost his job.
"I came away from that with the attitude that I can't waste a day. I know people say I'm compulsive and I guess I am. But I have to live life to the fullest. I can't wait."