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Stan Freberg, A Genius Of American Advertising, Dies

Stan Freberg and his wife, Hunter, pose for a photo in Beverly Hills, Calif., in 2003.
Matt Sayles
Stan Freberg and his wife, Hunter, pose for a photo in Beverly Hills, Calif., in 2003.

Mad Men had nothing on Stan Freberg, a genius of American advertising. In the 1950s and '60s, he created countless memorable ads using pointed humor.

Freberg was one of the first to inject satire into commercials.

Here he appears off-screen, trying to persuade a snob to eat a prune:

"Has Sunsweet managed to change your mind with their brand-new pitted prunes?" he asks.

The snob says, "Possibly. They're still rather badly wrinkled, you know."

Freberg offended some advertisers by using the word "old" to refer to, well, old people. So he recorded a song called "Elderly Man River." Weird Al Yankovic credits Freberg as a major influence.

Freberg died in Santa Monica today at the age of 88.

He is survived by his wife, son, daughter and granddaughter.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

As supervising editor for Arts and Culture at NPR based at NPR West in Culver City, Ted Robbins plans coverage across NPR shows and online, focusing on TV at a time when there's never been so much content. He thinks "arts and culture" encompasses a lot of human creativity — from traditional museum offerings to popular culture, and out-of-the-way people and events.

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