Today is the birthday of Frank Nelson (1911-1986). You just THINK you don’t know who he is. He’s that guy who had endless cameos and guest shots on sit-coms and commercials, who made a career out of saying “EEE-Yeeeeeesssssss?”
He’d gotten his start doing this turn on Jack Benny’s radio show in the 40s (and later the tv version), a la:
In the 1950s he was frequently on I Love Lucy. And he was still rocking it in the 80s, when he did a memorable series of McDonald’s commercials. This wasn’t just luck — he was very funny. The character would follow up that memorable introduction with dry wisecracks, and it never went out of style.
Here’s four of his turns from Sanford and Son from the 1970s – -essentially the same thing he’d done for Benny two and three decades earlier.
Stay tuned for another show where I first encountered him from around the same time.
To find out more about show business past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.