Charlie the Tuna

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Charlie the Tuna
Modern Charlie.png
First appearance1961
Created byTom Rogers
Voiced byHerschel Bernardi
Tex Brashear
Ron Hawking
Jeff Bergman
In-universe information
OccupationMascot of StarKist

Charlie the Tuna is the cartoon mascot and spokes-tuna for the StarKist brand. He was created in 1961 by Tom Rogers[1] of the Leo Burnett Agency.[2] StarKist Tuna is currently owned by Dongwon Industries, a South Korea-based conglomerate.[3] Charlie is one of the most recognized characters in American advertising.[4]



Charlie the Tuna was based on Tom Rogers' friend Henry Nemo. Nemo is known as the "creator of jive", which resembles the loose-lipped slang used by Charlie the Tuna.[5]


The advertisements depicted Charlie (voiced by actor Herschel Bernardi) as a Beatnik wearing a beret and thick glasses who believes that his hip, cultured "good taste" make him a perfect catch for StarKist. But he is always rejected. Announcer Danny Dark explains to him "Sorry, Charlie!"[6] Some advertisements ended with Charlie encouraging viewers to "Tell 'em, Charlie sent you". These commercials were animated by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises.[7] "Sorry, Charlie" became a popular American catchphrase.[8]

The Charlie character appeared in more than 85 advertisements for StarKist until the 1980s, when the campaign was retired. (Herschel Bernardi, the original voice of the character, died on May 9, 1986.)[9] Charlie made a comeback in 1999, when StarKist revived him to introduce a new line of tuna products marketed as healthy.[8][10] He has been the mascot of the company since then and is one of the most-recognized brand mascots in American advertising.[4]

Dark died on June 13, 2004. Rogers died on June 24, 2005.[1]


Los Angeles radio personality and voiceover artist Charlie Tuna (real name: Art Ferguson) chose his on-air name early in his career upon the departure of another Oklahoma City disc jockey. All disc jockeys at KOMA were told to draw their on-air names out of a hat, and by the time Chuck Riley picked his on-air name out of a hat, every name had been drawn except for "Charlie Tuna". Riley used the name for a week, and then left. His replacement, Art Ferguson, inherited the name, and he would keep the Charlie Tuna name upon relocating first to Boston and then Los Angeles.

American football head coach Bill Parcells earned the nickname "The Big Tuna" when he responded to an obviously false statement from a player with the incredulous "Who do you think I am? Charlie the Tuna?"

American hip-hop star Chali 2na chose his rap name by slightly modifying the name Charlie Tuna, a nickname his uncle gave him in his youth.

During the production of the 2018 film The Shape of Water, director Guillermo Del Toro remarked of the creature of the film "[The] character is called 'Charlie' on the call-sheet by reference to the StarKist mascot Charlie the Tuna. 'We wanted to play the ad on TV,' he says, 'but StarKist didn't want to have anything to do with a movie like this. The nickname stayed.'"[11]

Charlie the Tuna makes a cameo appearance in the 2012 computer-animated film Foodfight!.


  1. ^ a b Holley, Joe (8 July 2005). "Charlie the Tuna Creator Tom Rogers Dies". Washington Post. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  2. ^ All About Charlie StarKist. Accessed 13 November 2016.
  3. ^ Del Monte wraps up sale of StarKist,, 8 October 2008.
  4. ^ a b Klara, Robert (16 August 2019). "How Charlie the Tuna Became One of the Best-Known Brand Mascots in American History". Adweek. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  5. ^ Aaron, Jane (6 April 2017). "'Sorry, Charlie' reminiscent of 1940s yet steadily fades from modern speech". The Lincoln Journal. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Interview with David Depatie; extra feature on the Here Comes The Grump box set
  8. ^ a b McCarthy, Michael (17 November 1997). "Charlie the Tuna Returns to Ads And More Corporate Rejection". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  9. ^ Hershel Bernardi profile at the Internet Movie Database
  10. ^ "Fish out of water: 'Charlie the Tuna' returns to TV". 21 May 1999. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.
  11. ^ Utichi, Joe (December 27, 2017). "On Set For 'The Shape Of Water': Guillermo Del Toro "Bled" To Realize His Most Ambitious Project Yet". Retrieved 8 December 2019.

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