Who was Jack Gilford?
Jack Gilford was an American stage, television, and film actor who lived from 1907 to 1990. He was twice nominated for a Tony Award as Best Supporting Actor for his Broadway roles in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 1963 and Cabaret in 1966. In 1973, he was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for Save the Tiger. In all, Gilford actively appeared on stage, film, and television for almost 50 years; however, he may best be remembered as the dour, rubber-faced man that appeared in Cracker Jack television commercials from 1960 until 1972.
Gilford starred in 26 commercials for Cracker Jack. In those advertisements, he appeared in different roles--he was a teacher snatching a box of Cracker Jack from a student, a snack vendor patiently waiting as a small boy empties his pockets to find enough change to buy himself a box of Cracker Jack, and a train passenger who steals Cracker Jack morsels from a sleeping boy. Perhaps, one of the funniest Cracker Jack commercials has Gilford as an astronaut chasing after an elusive Cracker Jack box during a spacewalk. Of course, it's never explained why there is Cracker Jack floating in outer space. Gilford manages to capture the prized box of snacks, but when he opens it, gravity takes over and releases the popcorn and peanuts all into space. Gilford, rubber-face and all, looks on bewildered.
It's Like Stealing Cracker Jack from a Child
Several Cracker Jack commercials are available on YouTube. Unfortunately, we could not find the Cracker Jack spacewalk advert, but here's a cute one with Gilford and a little boy on a train.
Award Winning Cracker Jack Commercial
Another memorable Cracker Jack commercial is the Clio Award winning "Attic" advertisement. The advert has the aged Gilford wandering into his attic and opening a trunk full of memories. Not comical, but sad and nostalgic--time flies by, but simpler childhood memories remain. "Some memories are so good, you can still taste them."
- Cracker Jack TV Commercials from 1965 through 2000
- Wikipedia - Jack Gilford
- New York Times Obituary (6/5/1990) - Jack Gilford