In 1967, famed character actor Jack Gilford was featured in a classic commercial for Cracker Jack, the “molasses-flavored, caramel-coated popcorn and peanuts” snack typically found in movie theaters, carnivals, and baseball stadiums across America.
Famed for it’s surprise novelty in every box (abandoned for QR codes in 2016 😛 ), Cracker Jack was perhaps the most authentic of American treats.
Jack Gelford plays a businessman pilfering Cracker Jacks from an unsuspecting youngster returning from the circus.
Gelford can’t resist.
With each bite, he slips deeper and deeper into a state of childhood.
It’s written all over his face.
That is until he comes eye to eye with the kid.
It’s all pleasantries from there.
“When it comes to Cracker Jack, some kids never grow up.”
At this stage, Jack Gilford, initially discovered and mentored by Milton Berle, was having a resurgence in his career.
He had been blacklisted for years after being compelled to testify before the HUAC, the House Un-American Activities Committee, after being named by choreographer Jerome Robbins in 1953.
After Jospeh McCarthy was exposed for the fraud that he was, Jack Gilford embarked on his second act.
Gilford would win great acclaim in the Broadway musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum with fellow blacklisted actor Zero Mostel in 1962.
His success in theater continued with leading roles in the original Broadway productions of The World of Sholem Aleichem, The Diary of Anne Frank, Romanoff and Juliet, Once Upon a Mattress, and Cabaret.
Jack Gilford, still recognized today, is most famous for his roles in Cocoon, Save the Tiger, Catch-22, Get Smart, the film A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and his recurring role in Cracker Jack commercials like this one.