Pillsbury Doughboy creator dies at 89
Rudy Perz, best known as the creator of the Pillsbury Doughboy, died yesterday at the age of 89.
Nearly 50 years ago at his kitchen table in Chicago, Perz came up with one of the most recognizable and loved characters, Poppin’ Fresh, the Pillsbury Doughboy. He worked on the Pillsbury account for Chicago-based advertising agency Leo Burnett.
As reported in a Patch media outlet in Chicago, one of Perz’ daughters, Martha Nora noted that he was always thinking of new ideas.
“The one image I have of my dad was of him tapping the can of refrigerated dough against the kitchen table,” Nora said. “That’s how his mind worked for everything. The wheels were always turning and you never were sure what idea he would come up with. There was always a twinkle in his eye and he loved the element of surprise.”
The first Doughboy cost about $16,000 to develop. Five bodies and 15 heads were necessary to make all of the looks and movements for television advertisements. Using stop-action animation, it took 24 individual shots of the Doughboy for every second of animated action in each television commercial.
The original voice and well-known giggle of the Doughboy was voiceover actor Paul Frees. His first words were “Hi! I’m Poppin’ Fresh, the Pillsbury Doughboy,” followed by “Nothin’ says loving like somethin’ from the oven and Pillsbury says it best.”
Within three years of his debut in 1965, in a crescent roll commercial, the Doughboy had an 87 percent recognition factor among consumers. Today he continues to rank as one of the most recognizable characters.
From the beginning, the Doughboy has been dressed in a chef’s hat bearing the Pillsbury logo as well as a white neckerchief, and most importantly, he is still considered a helper and friend to cooks of all kinds.
Over the years the Doughboy has worn many hats. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was seen as a helper, friend and instructor to family cooks.
He has also been an opera singer, a rap artist, a rock star, a poet, a painter, a ballet dancer, a skydiver and skateboarder. He has also been seen playing the harmonica, accordion, bugle, electric guitar and violin.
And, he has also made appearances at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and most recently, he received his first-ever pair of jeans as a holiday gift.
While his ads have changed, his giggle continues to delight millions of fans.