|Born||Riccardo Di Guglielmo
30 July 1916
Preston, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
|Died||19 November 2007
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles
|Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, California|
|Years active||1956 – 1989, 1999 – 2000|
|Spouse(s)||Meg (1950 - 19 November 2007, (57 years), his death)|
|Children||Melanie Wilson, Stuart F. Wilson, Wendy Wilson|
Dick Wilson, born Riccardo Di Guglielmo (30 July 1916 – 19 November 2007), was a British-born Canadian character actor who played the role of finicky grocery store manager Mr. (George) Whipple in over 500 Charmin toilet paper television commercials (1965–1989, 1999-2000).
Dick Wilson was born in Preston, Lancashire, England to an Italian father, Aldo Di Guglielmo, and an English mother, Victoria Wilson. His father performed in vaudeville; his mother was a singer. In late 1916, his father moved the family to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada where he spent his childhood in the Corktown district and on the Mountain, attending Queen Victoria and Sacred Heart Schools. He had a Hamilton Spectator newspaper route and got his start in show business with a part-time job at CHML radio in Hamilton at age fifteen. Not wanting to be typecast as Italian, Di Guglielmo anglicized his first name and took his mother's maiden name as a surname when performing.
Wilson graduated from the Ontario College of Art & Design and then became a comic dancer in vaudeville. He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force early in World War II and served as a fighter pilot against the German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain in 1940. After World War II, he moved to the United States and became an American citizen in 1954. He then worked as an acrobatic dancer in New York before heading to California in 1954 for film and TV work.
Wilson made numerous appearances as several characters on the television sitcom Bewitched (usually as the drunk) he reprised his role as "The Drunk" on the Bewitched spin-off "Tabitha". and McHale's Navy, sometimes a neighbour or other stock character, various episodes between numbers 33 and 247. He played a similar character in Disney's The World's Greatest Athlete in 1973. Wilson also appeared on The Donna Reed Show, Hogan's Heroes, and The Bob Newhart Show.
Wilson was quoted as saying, "I've done thirty-eight pictures and nobody remembers any of them, but they all remember me selling toilet paper." Wilson made 504 commercials as Mr. Whipple, earning U.S. $300,000 annually and working only twelve days a year.
He described acting in commercials as "the hardest thing to do in the entire acting realm. You've got 24 seconds to introduce yourself, introduce the product, say something nice about it and get off gracefully."
Wilson is survived by his wife, Meg, and children, Stunt coordinator Stuart F. Wilson, Wendy, and actress Melanie Wilson, and five grandchildren. He was buried at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles.
- Associated Press Obituary[dead link]
- Foley, Doug (2007-11-20). "Corktown lad became TV's Mr. Whipple". The Hamilton Spectator. Archived from the original on 2007-11-22. Retrieved 2007-11-21.
- Gates, Anita. Dick Wilson, Squeezer of Tissue Rolls on Television, Dies at 91. The New York Times. 20 November 2007.
- Earthtimes.org Obituary
- Dick Wilson at the Internet Movie Database
- An interview with Dick Wilson
- Obituary in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin