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This commercial is going to haunt me while I sleep, I think.

What makes it so weird? Maybe it’s:

– The way star-of-stage-and-screen Andy Devine’s face seems to solidify from the ether, as though the viewer were awaking from anesthesia to find his gap-toothed eminence standing over the bed.

– The way Devine’s voice decays at the end of the phrase “ … like Big Ralph, the Sunkist dinosaur.

It’s reminiscent of Dana Carvey’s dissolute, amoral Jimmy Stewart voice on Saturday Night Live.

– The phrase “Now you can get a Little Ralph for one dollar.”

(Last time I got a Little Ralph for one dollar, I was in a rathole taqueria in Michoacan. On the bright side, I wrestled at 140 for two whole months afterward.)

– The addition of “…and a piece of orange peel that says ‘Sunkist’ on it!” to the list of things required to procure a Little Ralph.

Did the kids of America really mail in chunks of tattooed citral dermis in exchange for a puppet? The Post Office loved that, I’m sure.

Also, even though I know I’m watching a Sunkist promotion, it seems strange to mentally put that extra item in the envelope. Naturally it sets my imagination off and running.

I imagine a beaming Devine enthusing: “Now you can get a Little Ralph for a dollar, a piece of orange peel that says ‘Sunkist’ on it, an expired municipal bus pass, two Canadian nickels, a kick up the arse and a bowl full of plasma.”

– The way Devine trips on the phrase “order blank.”

(He sort of crinkles up around the eyes afterwards, as if to say, “Yeah … there’s gonna be another take, right? Right?”)

– The unnecessary line of professional narration at the end. What, Andy couldn’t’a done that?


3 responses »

  1. This is much how I imagine Jimmy Savile got started. First thing I did was look for said puppet on eBay but it looks like no one is parting with their’s. Or maybe the flimsy material and shoddy stitching meant no puppet made it out of the 70’s.

  2. I wasn’t sure how I remembered Andy Devine, but Wiki solved it:
    It was as Guy Madison’s sidekick “Jingles” in the TV series “The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok”. Half-hour weekly cowboy shows were BIG in the early 50s, and every cowboy worth his salt had a sidekick. Some were meant to add humor to the show, like Andy as “Jingles” and Pat Buttram and his recalcitrant Jeep Nellybelle with Roy Rogers, Gabby Hayes with Hopalong Cassidy, and Pancho with the Cisco Kid. Some were not funny, like Tonto with The Lone Ranger…

  3. Big Ralph was not the only early TV puppet who looked like he was made by a second grader. Remember “Rootie Kazootie”???? Howdy Doody and “Kukla, Fran & Ollie” were better (well, Fran was a real human).


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