You may not know the name but you’ve probably seen the face. Character and comedic actor Jack Somack started out as an amateur, doing community theater and the like but in his fifties, his look and avuncular affect started getting him hired for roles in commercials, eventually leading to work in television and movies. Luckily he had a face suitable for a variety of ethnic roles. When he wasn’t playing a Jew (which he was), like the president of the Gold Rush era San Francisco synagogue that hired Gene Wilder’s character as a rabbi in The Frisco Kid, he was playing an Italian, as he did in his most famous “role”, a commercial for Alka-Seltzer, one of the most famous television ads of all time, known as “That’s-a spicy meatball-a”. In this ad for the 1969 AMC Rebel, Somack is playing a driving instructor driven to dyspepsia by his inept students. The ad plays off of survey results showing that the Rebel was the most popular car among driving instructors, implying that the car was up to some serious abuse. It’s actually quite funny, though the likely reason for the Rebel’s popularity with driving schools was that it was cheaper than the competition.
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