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Friday, 25 March 2016

Len Dresslar born 25 March 1925

Elmer "Len" Dresslar, Jr. (March 25, 1925, in St. Francis, Kansas – October 16, 2005) was an American voice actor and vocalist, best known as the deep bass voice of the Jolly Green Giant in commercials for General Mills.

He served as in the U.S. Navy in World War II before studying voice at the Kansas City Conservatory of Music. After several years honing his acting skills in Midwest summer stock, Dresslar relocated to New York City, appearing on Broadway and joining the national touring company of South Pacific before settling in Chicago in 1953. There he joined the cast of CBS affiliate WBBM's live variety series In Town Tonight, which aired nightly between 1955 and 1960. Len charted the hits "Chain Gang" (not to be confused with the Sam Cooke song) and "These Hands" on Mercury 70774.

During that time, Dresslar also began moonlighting as a voice-over talent, and in 1959 was hired by the Leo Burnett Agency to record a new television spot for the Green Giant vegetable line. Cast as the company's leaf-clad mascot, the Jolly Green Giant, Dresslar intoned the character's booming tag line "Ho, ho, ho," and a legend was born. The magazine Advertising Age later named the Jolly Green Giant one of the 20th century's most recognizable commercial icons, behind only Tony the Tiger and the Marlboro Man. A spokeswoman for General Mills, the owner of the Green Giant Company, said Dresslar had been "the most consistent and most frequent voice of the Jolly Green Giant over the years - the one consumer’s are going to recognise". The figure viewers saw on screen was Keith Wegeman, an Olympic ski jumper.
Dresslar went on to serve as the voice of Snap, of Kellogg's Rice Krispies Snap-Crackle-and-Pop fame, as well as Dig 'Em, the bullfrog touting the cereal giant's Sugar Smacks product, also Amoco oil, Dinty Moore canned beef stew and Marlboro cigarettes.  He later said residuals from his jingle work put his children through college.

During the 1960s, Dresslar also sang with the jingle vocal group the J's with Jamie before joining the jazz troupe Singers Unlimited. Group members were Bonnie Herman, Len Dresslar, Don Shelton and Gene Puerling whose arrangements he wrote for the group were nothing short of a revelation. The group's use of studio multi-tracking (a burgeoning technology) developed a sound never heard before. The name "Singers Unlimited" is forever inscribed in the annals of vocal jazz. The Singers produced around 15 LP's in the period between 1971 and 1981.
Dresslar was President of the Chicago Chapter of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Vice President of the Screen Actors Guild, until his retirement in 1991. He died of cancer in a Palm Springs hospice on October 16, 2005. (Info edited mainly AMG)


boppinbob said...

For “The Singers Unlimited – Acapella 2” go here:

1. Clair
2. Killing Me Softly
3. Yesterday
4. My Romance
5. Lost In The Stars
6. April In Paris
7. Girl Talk
8. Nature Boy
9. I Don't Know
10. Autumn In New York
11. Like Someone In Love
12. Indian Summer

A big thank you to Espo @ Luigi's 50's & 60's Vinyl Corner blog for link.

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