The director who discovered the Bradys was the voice of a familiar commercial mascot
In "And Now, A Word From Our Sponsor," Carol and all six of the Brady kids are at the supermarket when a strange man starts spying on them. He eventually introduces himself as Skip Farnum, a totally groovy TV commercial director. He thinks that the family would be just perfect for his new ad for a laundry detergent, Safe.
When the episode aired in 1971, audiences were already familiar with the man playing Skip Farnum, Paul Winchell. He made his fame as a ventriloquist, appearing multiple times on The Ed Sullivan Show and Cavalcade of Stars with his dummies. In 1950 he was even given his own program, titled The Paul Winchell Show that ran for six years.
He popped up on episodes of Laugh-In, The Lucy Show, and Perry Mason, among others.
Around the time he turned up to make the Bradys into TV commercial stars, he was making the transition in voice acting. He originated the voices of Dick Dastardly from Wacky Races, the villain Gargamel on The Smurfs, and he even won a Grammy award for his work as Tigger in the Winnie-The-Pooh franchise. Yes, if you don't recognize Winchell on sight, you certainly know his voice from somewhere.
But there's one voice acting role of his that's probably even more famous than those, and it's one that you probably know by heart.
A commercial aired in 1970. In a simple animated style, a boy asks different animals — a cow, fox, turtle, and owl — the famous question: "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie pop?"
You're probably more familiar with the shortened version, which still runs on TV to this day. That's more than fifty years! In this one, he only asks the owl, who replies, "Let's find out. One, two, three"… and then bites the Tootsie pop before handing the stick back to the boy.
The boy is voiced by Buddy Foster, the older brother of Jodie Foster, who could be seen on Green Acres or Mayberry R.F.D. And the owl? None other than our friend, Paul Winchell.
So while you're watching the Bradys get convinced to be on a TV commercial, know that Paul Winchell would know better than anyone what that's like!
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