If you're best known for your work in television commercials, your fame in America is extremely ephemeral. After all, ads aren't generally cataloged and curated the way, say, movies and television series are. Once commercials are gone, they tend to largely stay gone. At best, their stars can hope to become the answers to trivia questions.
One such discarded celebrity, 1970s child star Mason Reese, best known for his Underwood Deviled Ham spots, seems to be aware of this situation and has tried to correct it by posting some vintage clips of himself to YouTube for posterity. These videos, made from aging videocassettes, offer a fascinating glimpse into an alternate showbiz universe where the entire country's attention could be commanded by a lisping, homely-cute moppet with a red pageboy haircut and the face of a Rankin-Bass character.
Reese has resurrected his old commercials, as expected, but even better are his appearances on The Mike Douglas Show. Douglas himself—so affable, so unhip, so sincere—seems like a relic from another time. This being a celebrity-based afternoon chatfest, Mason is juxtaposed with all kinds of likely celebrities. Here he is, for instance, with Leonard Nimoy, whose patchwork suit itself is an incredible special effect:
And here he is bursting into tears when he's told that fellow guest Harry Chapin, who seems genuinely touched, will be performing the heartstring-tugging “Cat's In The Cradle.”
Another fascinating relic is Mason, a failed ABC pilot from 1975, with Barry “Stuart Ullman From The Shining” Nelson as Mason's exasperated sitcom dad:
Mason Reese's personal YouTube channel, which so far has been largely and unfairly neglected, can be found here.
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