We all know the power of an iconic TV commercial. Sometimes these 20-second bits can make history and become part of popular culture forever. Is it even Christmas if Coca-Cola doesn’t tell you that the holidays are coming? Does a Ferrero Rocher even taste as good if you don’t tell your host that they are spoiling you?
These classic commercials can leave a permanent mark on popular culture and stay in our memories forever. But what about the famous faces behind these iconic ads? We take a look at the actors behind history’s best commercials and where they are now.
Pine-Sol — Diane Amos
Can you even look at this picture without smelling the smell of Pine-Sol? We can’t. This woman became synonymous with the product to families across America, and for a good reason—it was a genuinely iconic commercial.
But the truth is that you may have seen the Pine-Sol Lady in a variety of other places, as she’s an esteemed actress.
Her real name is Diane Amos, and she has starred in several movies such as Patch Adams, Sweet November, and Blue Jasmine.
Verizon — Paul Marcarelli
A classic example of a TV commercial permeating public consciousness without even realizing Verizon’s “Can You Hear Me Now?” advertising campaigns.
The catchphrase became so widely used that it eventually was a famous phrase even among those who had never seen the ad, and just considered it a name on its own.
The actor who starred in the movie is called Paul Marcarelli, and he went on to star in ads for Sprint and starring and directing in a variety of films.
Progressive Insurance — Stephanie Courtney
Who remembers this iconic commercial? Flo from Progressive Insurance inspired viewers of all ages to be as passionate about insurance as she was.
Her super smooth demeanor and almost too-perfect appearance gave Flo an air of ethereal quality or perhaps a hint of being a robot, but the truth was the actress behind the role was a genuine person.
Her name is Stephanie Courtney, and as well as her iconic role in this advert, she also has appeared in popular TV shows such as Men of a Certain Age.
AT&T — Beck Bennett
One of the funniest performances in TV commercial history, viewers across the United States grew to love the man in the AT&T/Direct TV commercials and his “it’s not complicated” catchphrase. But did you know that the starring actor in these ads is a comedian in his real life, too?
Beck Bennett has racked up quite an impressive resume as a comedic actor, starring in shows such as the comedy powerhouse Saturday Night Live and the much-loved sitcom Arrested Development.
Allstate — Dennis Haysbert
When you see this man, your first thought is you probably recognize him as the pitchman from the much-loved Allstate commercials, but then you might wonder where else you might know him.
The truth is, this actor’s name is Dennis Haysbert, and he has a pretty impressive acting resume outside of these ads. He also starred alongside Kiefer Sutherland in the mega-popular series 24 as the President of the United States and Pedro Cerrano in Major League and Major League 2.
Geico — John Lehr
Spotting the actor behind this iconic commercial is probably a little more challenging than others, thanks to the fatty layer of prosthetic makeup that he had to wear to become the much loved Geico Caveman.
But deep underneath all that caveman get-up is actor and comedian John Lehr. Besides his time working on the classic commercials, Lehr is known for his roles in the smash-hit movies and TV shows, including 10 Items or Less, which he produced and starring in!
Old Spice — Isaiah Mustafa
In what is probably one of the most iconic advertising campaigns of all time, actor and producer Isaiah Mustafa starred in a series of classic Old Spice commercials, as the character “Man Your Man Could Smell Like.”
But he was being manly and smelling nice are not the only strings to this mega-talented star’s bow. He started his career as a professional football player in the NFL, playing for teams such as the Tennessee Oilers and NFL Europe’s Barcelona Dragons.
As well as that, he has starred in super popular TV shows such as Ugly Betty and Days of Our Lives.
FreeCreditReport.com — Eric Violette
Can you even hear the words FreeCreditReport.com without humming along to the jingles in your head? Not only were they super catchy, but they were also downright impossible to get out of your mind.
And that’s no surprise when you think about the fact that a mega-talented singer and musician performed them.
Eric Violette’s musical talents brought the commercials a unique charm and personality that have endured to this day—with Violette and his original band being brought back to star once again in 2012.
Allstate — Dean Winters
The character of Allstate’s mega-successful TV commercials was based on Mr. White from the 1992 movie Reservoir Dogs, a tough guy who goes around causing accidental damages—that only Allstate customers would be insured against.
This ad campaign was mega-successful, but the show’s star was already a well-known actor before the commercials even hit the screen.
Dean Winters is an accomplished actor, having starred in shows such as Rescue Me, 30 Rock, and the HBO drama Oz.
GEICO — Jake Wood
Americans of all ages love the cute and hilarious gecko featured in several TV commercials for GEICO’s insurance company over the years.
Although many actors have voiced the gecko during its life, cockney geezer Jake Wood provided its most memorable voice.
Though Wood is not particularly famous over here in the States, he is quite a big star back home in his native England—starring a Max Branning in the popular BBC soap Eastenders.
Dos Equis — Jonathan Goldsmith
In one of the most popular and wide-reaching advertising campaigns of all time, Jonathan Goldsmith’s role as “The Most Interesting Man in the World” in the Dos Equis beer commercials not only increased sales for the beer by a whopping 15.4% but also spawned a massively popular internet meme that still circulates to this day.
As well as this iconic role, Goldsmith has appeared in several popular TV shows, such as Magnum, P.I., Knots Landing, and The A-Team.
Orbit — Vanessa Branch
You probably recognize this blonde beauty as the face of Orbit Gum, but actress Vanessa Branch has far more strings to her bow than just these iconic commercials for the minty fresh breath provider.
As well as becoming a famous face thanks to her series of commercials for the gum company, Branch won the Miss Vermont beauty pageant in 1994.
She has also carved out a successful career as an actress, appearing in shows such as Days of Our Lives and CSI: Miami, as well as playing Giselle in the mega-successful Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise.
Ocean Spray — Henry Strozier and Justin Hagan
Can you even look at these guys without imagining the refreshing taste of a cold glass of Ocean Spray? We can’t! Just looking at them makes us feel thirsty, and not in a rude sort of way.
Even though their faces have become entirely synonymous with the cranberry drink, they are both accomplished character actors outside of their work on these commercials.
Henry Strozier has appeared in super successful movies such as Contact and Thirteen Days, and Justin Hagan has films like Shortbus and Party Monster on his impressive resume.
Carl’s Jr. — Sara Underwood
How can we forget the iconic Carl’s Jr. commercial in 2012 featuring “BBQ’s Best Pair” and a stunning cameo from model Sara Underwood? Let’s say it wasn’t the burgers that were enthralling most viewers of these saucy commercials.
But aside from making burgers look even more appealing than they usually do, Sarah Underwood has a pretty impressive modeling resume under her belt.
Underwood has modeled for the super-popular Playboy magazine and was even once voted Playmate of the Year.
Carl’s Jr. — Emily Ratajkowski
And Sara Underwood isn’t the only beauty from that iconic Carl’s Jr. commercial that ended up being a star in her own right.
The legendary ad also starred Emily Ratajkowski, who, of course, went on to be an incredibly popular and successful model, appearing in campaigns for high-profile brands such as Marc Jacobs, Bottega Veneta, Dolce & Gabbana, and Versace.
More recently, she has also pursued a successful acting career and has starred in movies such as Gone Girl and Entourage.
Pepsi — Hallie Eisenberg
Remember this cutie from the classic Pepsi commercials of the 1990s? She made a huge impression on viewers everywhere with her adorable face and booming voice.
This little girl is now all grown up in real life—her name is Hallie Eisenberg, and she is now a respected actress.
Eisenberg has been in a variety of movie and TV roles. Still, it’s her brother who ended up being the giant star—that would be Oscar-nominated actor Jessie Eisenberg, who went on to far eclipse his little sister’s Pepsi fame.
Snapple — Wendy Kaufman
These classic ads featuring Wendy, the Snapple Lady, made a household name behind the performance and brought successful sales for the soft drink brand.
But, the star of these commercials, Wendy Kaufman, never set out to be an actress—she was simply in the right place at the right time. Kaufman worked in the Snapple office and took it upon herself to answer the fan mail piles they received every week.
Once her bosses realized what she was doing, they decided to put her energy and personality in front of the camera—and the rest is history!
T-Mobile — Carly Foulkes
Canadian model Carly Foulkes became a household name thanks to her long-term role as the charming and beloved “T-Mobile Girl.”
Foulkes appeared in several TV commercials for T-Mobile myTouch 4G, usually sporting brightly colored and pretty summer dresses.
But in real life, Foulkes has been the face of a lot more than just the cell phone brand.
She has modeled for several high-profile fashion labels, including Rugby Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch, Macy’s, and Tommy Hilfiger.
AT&T’s Lily — Milana Vayntrub
Another cell phone celebrity, Milana Vayntrub, found fame after landing the part of saleswoman Lily Adams in the mobile carrier AT&T’s regular television commercials. Lily Adams became a much-loved character, so much so that she returned to the role in 2020 to reflect the coronavirus pandemic as working from home.
But aside from these mega-popular commercials, Vayntrub has carved out a successful career as an actress in the movie and TV world, appearing in popular shows such as This is Us and Other Space.
AT&T Mom — Geneva Carr
Here we have another famous face who owes their fame to a cell phone commercial—they make stars!
This actress is Geneva Carr, who famously played the Mom in AT&T’s long-running series of TV ads. Carr’s character frequently worried over rollover minutes, creating a lovable and hilarious role that remains familiar to many to this day.
Outside of the much-loved commercials, Carr is a successful actress in her own right—she appeared in the Broadway play Hand to God, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play.
E-Trade — Pete Holmes
Discount broker E-Trade Financial somehow managed to make themselves into a household name thanks to their series of iconic adverts featuring a prodigally advanced baby who advised us all on our financial choices.
And it’s no surprise that this character was such a hit—the E-Trade baby was voiced by Pete Holmes, a successful actor and comedian in his own right.
In his series, Holmes created and starred the popular HBO comedy-drama Crashing, which ran for three seasons.
Jenny Craig — Valarie Bertinelli
Weight loss program Jenny Craig specializes in inspiring Americans of all ages and backgrounds to take on new and sustainable healthy lifestyle plans and diets.
So it’s no surprise that they picked actress Valerie Bertinelli, who in the late 2000s starred in a series of ads for the brand following her weight loss journey.
Bertinelli had long been a household name before taking on this iconic role, appearing in classic TV shows such as One Day at a Time.
Time Warner Cable — Mike O’Malley
Time Warner Cable ran some legendary TV commercials in the mid to late 2000s, starring Mike O’Malley as their spokesperson for several years.
But O’Malley made his name as an actor in various well-respected roles in TV shows, from his stint as host of Nickelodeon’s Guts, or his roles in the CBS sitcom Yes Dear or Fox comedy-drama series Glee.
He has also popped up in guest spots in several mega-popular TV shows such as My Name Is Earl, Raising Hope, Parenthood, and Parks and Recreation.
Pantene — Kelly LeBrock
Ever wonder where the famous phrase “don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” came from? It seems like just a regular staple of pop culture, right?
The line came to prominence thanks to Kelly LeBrock and her iconic appearance in a now-famous 1980 TV commercial for Pantene shampoo.
But LeBrock is talented as well as beautiful, having won critical acclaim for her roles in movies such as *Weird Science, *The Woman in Red*, *Hard to Kill*, and *Wrongfully Accused*.
Isuzu — David Leisure
Car company Isuzu struck comedy gold when they hit on the concept for their TV commercial character Joe Isuzu.
The fictional car salesman was the epitome of a shady businessman, and he was played entirely by David Leisure, to the delight of fans across the nation.
He played this role from 1986 to 1990 and reprised it once again in 1991 until 2001.
Since his iconic role in the ads, Leisure secured another iconic position, Charley Dietz, on the popular sitcom Empty Nest.
Toyota — Laurel Coppock
Who remembers Jan from the Toyota commercials? Pretty much, everyone, that’s who. This iconic role was played by actress Laurel Coppock, who charmed the nation with her role in the much-loved ads.
But Coppock has a lot more strings to her bow than just a series of successful TV commercials.
She is a talented comedian and dramatic actress, having appeared in mega-smash hit movies such as Crazy, Stupid Love, and TV comedy classics such as Arrested Development.
Sonic — Peter Grosz and T. J. Jagodowski
Comedy duo Peter Grosz and T. J. Jagodowski became national treasures thanks to their roles in the legendary series of TV commercials for fast-food chain SONIC.
In the ads, the two funnymen would sit in the car on the way to and from the famous drive-thru and wax lyrical about how great and yummy the food was—among other things.
It’s no surprise that these guys are successful comedians in their own right—Grosz has written for several successful comedy shows, such as The Colbert Report, Late Night With Seth Meyers, and The President Show.
State Farm — Jake Stone
Everyone loves the classic “Jake from State Farm” TV commercial and the hilarious catchphrase “she sounds hideous.”
But did you know that Jake from State Farm was called Jake, and did work for State Farm?
They picked him from a casting call taken out of their employees—who could have imagined the vast success the ad would go on to have, and what an icon of pop culture innocent Jake Stone would become.
Stone has since been replaced in the new ads, but still makes a classic cameo as a nod to his original character.
Polident — Martha Raye
Martha Raye’s appearances in the mega-popular TV commercials series for Polident wasn’t just a happy coincidence.
The actress and comedian had already made a name for herself in the industry, not just for her acerbic wit and perfect timing but also for her big mouth and lips, which were often worked into significant features of her roles.
Capitalizing on this, Polident put her front and center of their adverts, with the now legendary tagline: “So take it from The Big Mouth: new Polident Green gets tough stains clean!”