Detroit’s Favorite Pitchmen
The death of TV pitchman Billy Mays, jogged memories of some of the more notable on-sit sales people of the Keener era.
Marilyn Turner was the weather person at WJBK when she began her run as the spokesmodel for Carpet Center. We remember her flying through the warehouse on a Persian rug. And who can forget the inspired series of radio commercials for Merollis Chevrolet where salesman Ernie was constantly getting advice from the owner who “made a friend for life with each car sold”.
Perhaps the most famous Detroit advertising icon was Mr. Belvedere. The man behind the president’s desk who ended each commercial with the phrase “we do good work” was actually Maurice Lezell. A Detroit native and graduate of Central High school, Lezell named his construction company after the Clifton Webb character that first garnered attention in the 1948 film Sitting Pretty. According to Detroit’s most knowledgeable TV historian, Ed Golick, proprietor of the quintessential Motor City television memory site DetroitKidShow.com, by the 1970s Belvedere Construction became one of the biggest local advertisers in Detroit, spending a reported $750,000 a year.
Many of us remember Mr. Belvedere’s repartee with CKLW-TV’s Conrad Patrick and Lezell’s scowling “Conrad, I’m not happy!” statements. Lezell told Ed Golick that the commercials were an incredible two minutes in length and were recorded extemporaneously.
For more on Lezell’s life as Mr. Belevedere, visit the DetroitKidShow Belevedere page.