Charlie the Tuna

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Charlie the Tuna

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]

History[edit]

Creation[edit]

Charlie the Tuna was based on Rogers' friend Henry Nemo. Nemo is known as the "creator of jive" which are similar to the speaking style of the loose-lipped slangs used by Charlie the Tuna.[4]

Campaign[edit]

The advertisements depicted Charlie (voiced by actor Herschel Bernardi) as a Beatnik (1950s subculture) wearing a beret and coke-bottle glasses, whose goal is to be caught by the StarKist company. Charlie believes that he is so hip and cultured that he has "good taste," and he is thus the perfect tuna for StarKist. Charlie is always rejected in the form of a note attached to a fish hook that says, "Sorry, Charlie." The reason given by the narrator (voiced by Danny Dark) for the rejection was that StarKist was not looking for tuna with good taste but rather for tuna that tasted good. Some of the commercials ended with Charlie appeasing the viewers: "Tell 'em, Charlie sent you". These commercials were animated by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises.[5]

"Sorry, Charlie" became closely associated with StarKist and was also a popular American catchphrase. Charlie appeared in more than 85 advertisements for StarKist until the 1980s, when the campaign was retired. Charlie made a comeback in 1999, when StarKist revived him to introduce a new line of tuna products marketed as healthy.[6] He has been the mascot of the company since then.

Bernardi, the original voice of the character, died on May 9, 1986.[7] Dark died on June 13, 2004. Rogers died on June 24, 2005.[8]

Legacy[edit]

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.'"[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Holley, Joe (8 July 2005). "Charlie the Tuna creator Tom Rogers dies". The Washington Post.
  2. ^ All About Charlie StarKist. Accessed 13 November 2016.
  3. ^ Del Monte wraps up sale of StarKist, fis.com, 8 October 2008.
  4. ^ Aaron, Jane (6 April 2017). "'Sorry, Charlie' reminiscent of 1940s yet steadily fades from modern speech". The Lincoln Journal. Retrieved 1 November 2017.
  5. ^ Interview with David Depatie; extra feature on the Here Comes The Grump box set
  6. ^ Revised advertising campaign
  7. ^ Hershel Bernardi profile at the Internet Movie Database
  8. ^ Holley, Joe. ‘Charlie the Tuna’ creator drowns", Washington Post, MSNBC.com, 8 July 2005.
  9. ^ http://deadline.com/2017/12/guillermo-del-toro-interview-on-set-shape-of-water-1202232620/

External links[edit]