Monday, November 19, 2007

Putting the charm in Charmin


The passing of character actor Dick Wilson at the age of 91—ninety-one!—will no doubt bring back fond memories of the man he’s best remembered for playing; namely, “Mr. Whipple,” the grocery-store manager who was the pitchman for Charmin bathroom tissue from 1964-1985. The tag line for each commercial, “Don’t squeeze the Charmin,” has been indelibly tattooed into the brains of couch potatoed baby boomers, along with the lyrics to the Gilligan’s Island TV series.

Wilson, of course, was able to broaden his acting range with a number of other memorable roles—a recurring part on Bewitched as the drunk who frequented the bar Darrin Stevens (Dick York, Dick Sergeant) inevitably wound up in after a spat with the old broomstick-and-chain, and high-profile guest appearances as varied as The Twilight Zone, My Favorite Martian, McHale’s Navy, Hogan’s Heroes and The Fugitive.

When I learned that Wilson had left us—ostensibly from my Bom…Comcast home page (Bill Crider also has a post up)—for some odd reason an old country song by singer Charlie Walker (Pick Me Up on Your Way Down) popped into my head and now I can’t get rid of it. (This actually made the top 10 in 1967, by the way.) So, as a public service I’ll put it in your head so we can be simpatico:

Did you hear what happened
Last Saturday night
While dancin' and drinkin'
We all got half-tight
This sweet thing named Sharmon
Was dancin' with me
When up jumped her boyfriend
And he hollered at me

Please don't squeeze my Sharmon
Don't hold her so tight
You'd best heed my warnin'
It's the last one tonight
She's soft and she's gentle
And sweet as can be
And if Sharmon needs squeezin'
Then leave that to me

Along about midnight
I was feelin' no pain
And me and Miss Sharmon
Were dancin' ag'in
Then Hank and big Harlan
Got into a fight
And I heard someone holler
As out went the lights

Please don't squeeze my Sharmon
Don't hold her so tight
You'd best heed my warnin'
It's the last one tonight
She's soft and she's gentle
And sweet as can be
And if Sharmon needs squeezin'
Then leave that to me

“Don’t Squeeze My Sharmon” (1967) – written by Carl Belew & Van Givens

R.I.P., Dick. You will be missed.

2 comments:

Bill Crider said...

Oh, man, you had to go and mention Carl Belew. Now I can't get "Stop the World and Let Me Off" out of my head.

Stacia said...

It's sad, but I had no idea he was still alive. Definitely a cultural icon, and he played a sitcom drunk better than almost anyone else. He will be missed.