Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Oberti Olives and the Passage of Time 

Photo of Fresno icon Al Radka, shamelessly ripped off from Fresyes.comPosted by Hello

I hate it when people from my childhood pass away.

Al Radka, a local Fresno celebrity, passed away back on March 11. The name won't mean anything to anyone who wasn't in Fresno from the late 1940's to the 80's. However, virtually any Fresnan from this period not only knows who Al Radka was, but can probably sing the first verse from several of his local TV commercial jingles.

My favorite local ad of all time was his Oberti olives TV commercial. It featured Radka signing his love to a woman on the balcony, which turned out to be a giant can of olives. Really though, any written description couldn't do it justice. It was surreal in a warm, funny sort of way.

I assume every place has had its local TV celebrity. Someone like Cal Worthington (Go see Cal! Go see Cal!) was to Los Angeles. A person unknown outside of where he lived, but someone who is in the collective memory of everyone from that town. It's kind of like a secret, a way to connect with those we grew up with, while everyone else asks, "Who the Hell is Al Radka?".

Hat Tip: Fresyes. Also see Randy Phillips for the first and second verses to the Producers jingle.

For LA, Cal Worthington counts.

But for many my age and older, the key jingle was for Pete Ellis. He had the bouncing ball across the lyrics back in the 70s and 80s.

The first Gulf War drove him out of business, and he went bankrupt. He couldn't pay back a big loan to the local cities who supported him. He latter got back into car sales online, and made his money back. He then quietly walked into the city hall of each city, gave them a check for the loan, and walked out. A real class act.
Oh man. That sucks! My favorite was the one where Al was asleep in the bed and dreaming of Oberti cans that were floating over his bed....
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