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He was speaker of the U.S. House for 10 years, the longest continuous reign of any speaker in history. But many Americans better remember Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr. as the man who popped out of the suitcase or the white-haired guy in the American Express ads.

The Massachusetts Democrat spent more than 50 years in government service before retiring from political life in 1987. He died last month at the age of 81 of cardiac arrest.

After retirement, Rep. O'Neill wrote two books-the first, "Man of the House," was penned with Lee Iacocca biographer William Novak-and appeared in a myriad of commercials for the likes of Commodore Amiga computers, Miller Lite beer, the short-lived Trump Shuttle and, most notably, Choice Hotels International's Quality Inns. In that memorable spot, he popped out of a suitcase to promote the chain's special rates for senior citizens.

Indeed, at Rep. O'Neill's eulogy, his son, Thomas P. O'Neill III, made reference to the commercial, saying he wished his father might simply pop up out of the casket.

Among Rep. O'Neill's other best-remembered ads was his appearance in American Express Co.'s "Portraits" print campaign, featuring the stunning photography of Annie Leibovitz.

Attorney Peter Ly ons, who was a pall bearer at the funeral, said the ad was origi nally supposed to show Rep. O'Neill hit ting a golf ball out of a sand trap. But when he tired after 2 hours, he sat down to rest on a beach chair. Photos Ms. Leibovitz took while he rested were the basis for the spot that eventually ran, showing Rep. O'Neill relaxing on the and by the ocean.

Shortly after the ad broke, Rep. O'Neill boarded a plane after meeting with his publisher. A young woman next to him asked what he did for a living, to which Rep. O'Neill responded that he was a book salesman. Soon, a fellow passenger came to him with the AmEx ad in hand, seeking an autograph, prompting the young woman to say, in Mr. Lyons' words, "Now I know who you are-you're the guy in the American Express ad!"

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