The director who discovered the Bradys was the voice of a familiar commercial mascot

He also originated the voice of several beloved children's characters

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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42 Comments

FritzT007 3 months ago
I remember back in my younger days singing along with the theme from one of my childhood favorites. It went something like "Hooray, hoorah, it's Winchell Mahoney time, it's Winchell Mahoney time it's lots of fun..."
KathyMcKinny 29 months ago
No one seems to mention that Johnny Whitaker (Jody Davis from Family
Affair) is the voice of the kid in all the Tootsie Pop commercials
bradyguy KathyMcKinny 13 months ago
Well...they DO mention that it was a kid named Buddy Foster in this commercial. So....maybe it wasn't Whitaker in ALL of them...or even in any??
Adanor 29 months ago
Speaking of needing to have "heart," with Dr. Henry Heimlich he invented and patented an artificial heart. He also invented and patented many other medical and non-medical items.
TonyClifton 30 months ago
Paul played a ventriloquist looking for love in an episode of "Love American Style" where he fell in love with Shari Lewis! CLASSIC episode, with an appearance by Scatman Crothers, and the head of the talent agency was George "Jetson" O'Hanlon! Lots to love in that episode! When is ME-TV going to air "Love American Style?" Classic show!
JohnGibbons 30 months ago
Show rotation? Andy Griffith anyone? Love the show but yikes! Between TV Land and Hallmark and MeTv it rotates through the whole series in about three weeks
NickF123 30 months ago
I'm surprised and a little disappointed that nobody mentioned his voicing Fleegle on The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, which is only shown now (rarely) in edited 30 minute format and seems to be missing season 2 completely from the Warner Bros. archive and all lost in the original full 1-hour format.
Runeshaper 30 months ago
Dick Dastardly, Gargamel, Tigger, and the Owl = AMAZING! Those are definitely some FANTASTIC characters and who could forge that commercial?! Paul Winchell is 1 super talented dude (-:
BobInBG78 30 months ago
Scrubbin' bubbles voice,too. Hoo-hoo-hoo !
BillO 30 months ago
Another Brady Bunch tie in they could have made was Buddy Foster played the bully that picks on Cindy for her lisp.
JohnGibbons BillO 30 months ago
Nope that was Russell Schulman
KathyMcKinny BillO 29 months ago
Buddy was the character's name, not the actor
bradyguy KathyMcKinny 13 months ago
Yeah...but not "Foster". His last name was "Hinton". So why would that be a tie-in??

Odd.
Peter_Falk_Fan 30 months ago
Tigger (that's T-I-double guh-er) is my favorite Winnie-the-Pooh character. I have a nice collection of him (figures, pins, ornaments, etc.).
justjeff 30 months ago
Paul Winchell was taught puppetry (not ventriloquism) by Jerome ("Jero") Magon, an artist and puppeteer. In my teen years, I knew Jero, and he lived/worked in a small studio on Espanola Way - a unique little street on Miami Beach.

Jero once showed me a picture of Paul before he'd had a nose job, and another photo of Winchell sitting on Jero's lap (as a "ventriloquist dummy") on the pool deck of the Fontainebleau Hotel. Magon said that was the *only* time Paul would ever pose for a photo like that.

Jero also asserted that Winchell's dummy "Jerry Mahoney" was named in honor of him... "Jerry" being a derivative of Jerome and Mahoney using the same "Ma" as Jero's last name of Magon. Jero lived to be 95.

https://bimp.uconn.edu/education/american-puppeteers/jero-magon/
MrsPhilHarris 30 months ago
Sounded like Frank Nelson and Peter Lorre doing some of the voices.
UTZAAKE MrsPhilHarris 30 months ago
Frank Nelson-Mr. Cow.
Paul Frees-Mr. Fox (Peter Lorre voice imitation).
Ralph James-Mr. Turtle.
MrsPhilHarris UTZAAKE 30 months ago
Thanks! I wasn’t familiar with Ralph James so I looked him up. He did the voice of Orson on Mork & Mindy.
DerekJ 30 months ago
And his daughter April is an actor as well and she was behind the hilarious, and dearly departed, site Regretsy.
daDoctah DerekJ 30 months ago
She had a strained relationship with her father. On the morning of his death, I checked out her website to confirm the news and found an article she posted the previous evening referring to someone else as her "dad", and making it clear that she wasn't talking about "the puppet-f***er" (as she called Paul). That initially made me think the news of his passing was fake as regardless of how badly they got along she wouldn't have called him something so offensive right after his death.

But the news *was* true, and the article was simply posted before she knew. I seem to remember she pulled it down very shortly thereafter.
Andybandit 30 months ago
Wow, Paul Winchell voiced a lot of different characters. I love the tootsie roll commercial. I am still not a fan of the Brady Bunch, It is time for MeTV to put something else from 11am-1pm on Sunday. Also change the shows from 3pm-6pm mountain time during the week. Sorry if I offended anyone, about the Brady Bunch or changing the shows.
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NickF123 Andybandit 30 months ago
I totally agree on the rotation of weekday shows idea. I'm very burned out of even the shows I like on the weekday run. Maybe if they ran shows only one day a week like the first runs do it would stretch things out a lot. Partly unrelated, they need to get The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show for an hour on weekend mornings, and maybe my previously mentioned The Banana Splits Adventure Show with Paul Winchell. Classics that deserve to be reintroduced to modern viewers.
Andybandit NickF123 30 months ago
So true, good idea.
LoveMETV22 NickF123 29 months ago
It would be nice if they rotated some of the shows they have in their library on occasion, or make a change now and then. Showing episodes once a week (especially if it's "fan favorite") most likely would never happen. It would leave huge gaps in the program schedule which have to be filled with something. So maybe a change in the schedule a little more often.
bradyguy Andybandit 13 months ago
But do you like The Addams Family?? WIth TWO Ds??
daDoctah 30 months ago
Winchell, along with Johnny Carson and others, was among those considered for the role of Robert Petrie on what would eventually become "The Dick Van Dyke Show". As sort of a consolation, he did get to appear in one episode along with a puppet in the form of a snail.
ETristanBooth daDoctah 30 months ago
And Jellybean sounded quite a lot like the owl, especially when he says, "let's find out."
Barry22 30 months ago
.....and lest we forget, he was also an inventor. Invented and patented the artificial heart.
Mike 30 months ago
Paul Winchell did a whole lot of on-camera acting - and much of it is in the MeTV inventory!
Be on the lookout for "The Case Of The Nervous Neighbor" on Perry Mason - in which Paul Winchell plays a really, REALLY bad guy!
(One example to serve for many.)
harlow1313 30 months ago
That episode of the Bunch made me want to hurl.

I enjoyed "Winchell Mahoney Time" when I was a boy, right after "The Soupy Sales Show."
Lantern harlow1313 30 months ago
Scotty-watty do-do!
LoveMETV22 30 months ago
Good story. Glad they included the Tootsie Pop clip. Some of the Brady cast members were no stranger to commercial appearances.
WordsmithWorks 30 months ago
Definitely a voice from my childhood. Loved Dick Dastardly and his pal Muttley, as well as all of the Wacky Racers. Saturday mornings were the best.
Michael WordsmithWorks 30 months ago
I got Wacky Races on DVD last year.

Sadly, it's not as impressive as it was the first time. A lot of repetition
daDoctah Michael 30 months ago
But you do get the voiceover of Dave Willock as the race announcer, during one of the several peaks of his career.
Runeshaper WordsmithWorks 30 months ago
Yes! Saturday mornings were the best (-:
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