Recalling Fred Willard's legacy in commercials
Fred Willard, master of improvisation with a genius for comic timing, died May 15 at age 86. Willard is perhaps best known for the films "Best in Show" and "This is Spinal Tap," but even recently continued to appear on talk shows and as a semi-regular on "The Bachelor."
Willard was a regular on TV comedies including "Modern Family" and "Everybody Loves Raymond," and the kitschy classic "Fernwood 2 Night," but he also brought his signature zaniness to commercials, where he had a long and prolific career. Here, we recall a few of his best.
In this Nut & Honey spot from 1992, he plays a newscaster a bit taken aback by his co-anchor's lackadaisical attitude.
This clever spot for Subaru plays off a familiar theme: subliminal advertising.
In this vintage spot for the long-defunct Abraham & Strauss department store, a hapless Willard thinks he's made a wise choice of a gift for his father-in-law.
Willard proves how much he cares for Foster Farms' chicken guarantee in this commercial in which he stars with "WKRP in Cincinnati" star Gordon Jump.
Willard is, well, a natural in this spot for Natural Light beer where he is joined by Norm Crosby, who was known for his malapropisms.
In a spot for the Yellow Pages—remember them?—he narrates as Sarah Purcell tries to find something in them before a speeding train runs her over.
In this "scientific" spot from an era when smoking products were allowed to be advertised on TV, Willard shows that Tiparillos don't smell like cigars.
Willard lent his talent to PETA for several commercials as well as emceeing some of its fundraisers. Here, at his deadpan best, he debates some hilariously catchy slogans in a spot supporting animal birth control.