TV Commercials of the 70's and 80's

Here are some listings of my seventies and eighties commercial compilations culled from the thousands in my collection. I'm always open to trades (VHS and DVD)--but if you have nothing to trade, email me anyway (pgsaur at frontier dot com OR hugo1000faces at gmail dot com) if you are interested in anything here!

Thursday, May 27, 2004

"Man, You Sound Like a Schmuck!"

I received an interesting e-mail several years ago, and I thought I'd share it and the story behind it:

"I ran across your website when doing a search on 'Batman tape recorder.' You see, my brother and I did a Batman tape recorder commercial when we were kids back in the 70's. I happen to be searching for any of the commercials we did... In your 70's archive you mention the commercial with 3 kids in it. Although we never thought our commercial aired, it is possible that the one you mention is actually the one we were in. So you can understand that I am very interested in getting a copy of that tape...

I dug out the tape (long since transferred to DVD) and watched the commercial so I could write Tom back and describe it. In short, three boys, ten or eleven or so, use the "Bat-Recorder" (which unsurprisingly appears to be Mego's earlier Star Trek tape recorder with a different sticker) to act out a Batman adventure from a comic book, then listen to it back. Once again, the last line ("Man, you sound like a schmuck!") made me laugh out loud. I can certainly believe that it never aired. Check it out for yourself:
Watching it again, the two white kids do indeed look like brothers. I asked Tom if he and his brother had done other commercials, and if he would write a little reminiscence about the making of the ad, especially about the "schmuck" line. He responded:

"I would have been the kid wearing the glasses in the commercial. As far as memories go, I don't have that many really. It was about 29 years ago after all. The only thing I can think of right now is that I remember that they had me wear glasses without the lenses in them since I didn't wear glasses at the time. I seem to recall that my mom and I went out and got the glasses ourselves at a local store, the kind you can get without a prescription. Maybe my brother can remember some stuff. I'll ask him..."

Tom went on to mention other commercials he had done, including some it turned out I have in my collection: one he did for Hardy Boys dolls, and a voice-over his brother did for Kahn's meats, which I think was a local or regional NYC-area spot. He also was in the commercial for the Star Wars Death Star Board Game, which I wish I had because I loved that stupid game. (I made him a tape of the ads I had, which he was very grateful for.) When I heard from Tom again, he relayed these memories from his brother (whose name Tom never mentioned), elder by three years:

"All that I remember about the "schmuck" line is that it was not in the original script. I remember the director wanting to elicit a real laugh from us and he would whisper a different line to the other kid before each take. That way we would be surprised. I don't remember what any of the other lines were, but I guess when he said "schmuck" we must have laughed for real because that is the take they used.

"I also remember that this commercial was filmed at the old Terrytoons animation studio in New Rochelle, NY. This is where they made the old "Mighty Mouse" and "Heckle and Jeckle" cartoons. From what I recall we were there on that day filming another commercial and this Batman one was filmed very quickly because they were done shooting the other spot we were there for and had some extra time. I don't know if the Batman recorder was ever made. I think they were using this test commercial to get the toy company to actually manufacture it. I could be wrong though."

He's probably correct on that, as Ebay and Google searches don't turn up any relevant "Bat-Recorder" or "Batman tape recorder" hits.

My thanks to Tom and his brother for their fun recollections...