Stephen Hawking: Brilliant Physicist and Unlikely Pitchman

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Stephen Hawking, the renowned British particle physicist, died Wednesday at age 76 after living for decades with ALS. A scientist who explored the universe, he was also a prolific pitchman for brands and a popular culture icon in his own right, immortalized in shows like "The Simpsons."

With his synthesized voice and wheelchair, he was a distinctive choice for advertisers including Jaguar, Save the Children and Intel. His well-known sense of fun made him game to try new things.

In 2016, for example, Hawking starred in Jaguar's "British Villains" campaign—shot by "The King's Speech" director Tom Hooper—as an evil mastermind in an underground lair. The physicist posted the ad on his Facebook page with the message: "You all know me as Professor Stephen Hawking, the physicist wrestling with the great concepts of time and space. But there is another side to me that you may not know: Stephen Hawking the actor. I have always wanted to be in a movie playing the part of a typical British villain. And now, thanks to Jaguar my wish has come true."

Hawking also appeared in a playful 2014 spot for U.K. betting firm Paddy Power, in which he speculated on the statistical likelihood of England winning the World Cup for soccer.

There was also a more serious side to his advertising appearances. One of Hawking's earlier spots was for a moving film for telecom firm BT in 1993 in which he stressed the importance of communication with the line, "All we need to do is keep talking."

In a 1999 spot for optical retailer Specsavers, Hawking spoke about the wonders of the universe and how much having his eyesight meant to him. More recently, he appeared in a spot for Swedish health company Gen-Pep, warning of the dangers of obesity, and a Save the Children ad in which he "gave his voice" to children affected by the war in Syria.

Hawking also celebrated his relationship with Intel, which supplied the technology for his computerized voice, in a 2014 film.

As a cultural icon, he made memorable guest appearances on TV shows, notably in several episodes of "The Simpsons" as well "The Big Bang Theory," "Futurama" and "Star Trek," in which he played a hologram version of himself. And rock band Pink Floyd sampled his voice on its tracks "Keep Talking" and "Talkin' Hawking."

Late in Hawking's career, he was immortalized in Hollywood: In 2014, he became the subject of biopic "The Theory of Everything," for which Eddie Redmayne won an Oscar for playing him.

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