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April 27, 2011 12:20 PM   Subscribe

Lynn Haludren, better known as the Empire Carpet Man, died yesterday at the age of 89.

Hauldren began his relationship with Empire Today as an ad copywriter, but Empire's owners requested that he do the voiceovers and commercials himself (legend has it they didn't want to pay an actor to do it) and he became a Chicagoland (and national) advertising icon. He even wrote the jingle!
posted by Hey Dean Yeager! (83 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh wow! I loved that homey old voice of his... RIP.
posted by Mister_A at 12:23 PM on April 27, 2011


We never know these people's names until they die.
posted by amro at 12:26 PM on April 27, 2011


... today.

.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:32 PM on April 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


We never know these people's names until they die.

Today I learned the name of the girl you've almost certainly seen if you've ever mistyped a domain name: Hannah Stellar.
posted by kmz at 12:36 PM on April 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


That guy is Chicago. I was amazed when they expanded out here to DC and there he was, 588-2300, Empire.

Another story my cousin had--he was a Pearl Jam nut back in the day and when Pearl Jam played the old Chicago Stadium, Eddie Vedder told the crowd that he was from Chicago and could prove it. He said, 588-2300, Empire.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:37 PM on April 27, 2011 [21 favorites]


.
posted by Iridic at 12:40 PM on April 27, 2011


I met him once very briefly while I was working at a video store in college. We were a bit jaded about local celebrities because of where the store was, so nobody paid him much attention when he came in, even though he spent the entire time looking around for somebody to do just that. I think he was disappointed.
posted by briank at 12:41 PM on April 27, 2011


An ad for Empire featuring Haludren, of course, was featured as (I believe) background audio in Wayne's World. At least one of the DVD versions of it has, for the main menu, segments of ads/crummy shows from the early 90s playing. And one of them was that Empire ad... I should get my DVD out and rip that particular one and segment since I haven't been able to find it on the i nternet in my searching.
posted by skynxnex at 12:47 PM on April 27, 2011


Well, at least we still have Bob Zajdel.

.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 12:49 PM on April 27, 2011


That jingle is one of the last old-timey-sounding jingles out there that's got a national reach. It's an instant earwig.
posted by blucevalo at 12:51 PM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


That guy's voice makes me want to give him a hug.
posted by Shike at 12:52 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lynn was also a dedicated barbershop quartet singer, and he was much beloved in the barbershop world. A very kind and giving man, with a great heart and a tremendous wit. Here are a couple of videos of his quartet, Chordiac Arrest.

.
posted by Balonious Assault at 12:56 PM on April 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


588-2300-EXPIIIIIIIIRE
posted by phong3d at 12:56 PM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dang. A little bit of my Midwestern childhood just died. This makes me irrationally sad.
posted by 40 Watt at 12:57 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]



Ξ................∏................Ξ
posted by zarq at 12:59 PM on April 27, 2011


Eddie Vedder told the crowd that he was from Chicago and could prove it. He said, 588-2300, Empire.

I suspect every region has their own version of the well-advertised 1-800 number that is instantly known to a local but means nothing to someone from away. In Massachusetts it is 1-800-54-GIANT.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:02 PM on April 27, 2011


1-800-GO-GEBCO is one for Washington DC/Baltimore area.
posted by skynxnex at 1:08 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Bummus at 1:15 PM on April 27, 2011


In Massachusetts it is 1-800-54-GIANT.

Only recently supplanted in earworm terribleness by 1-877-KARS-4-KIDS.

Sometimes WBZ I hate you so much
posted by Spatch at 1:16 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


.

Now I just hope the guy who rapped:

"I'm through flipping burgers and frying fries,
I'm getting it together and I realize,
That to be a success takes detrmination,
So I'm enrolling in the College of Automation"

never dies.*

*I would love if anyone ever finds this commercial on the internet.
posted by drezdn at 1:19 PM on April 27, 2011


In Massachusetts it is 1-800-54-GIANT.

Only recently supplanted in earworm terribleness by 1-877-KARS-4-KIDS.


I just learned on Monday that the "Cars for Kids" ad is not local to Boston, much to my surprise. I heard it on an FM station outside of Philadelphia, and my wife exclaimed "That's not a regional ad? I guess I just assumed that because it's so terrible."
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:25 PM on April 27, 2011


Thanks for getting 1-800-54-GIANT stuck in my head, Rock Steady.

Is Empire "Quality, Comfort, and Price - That's Nice." as well?
posted by maryr at 1:28 PM on April 27, 2011


Ray the Menards Guy is looking over his shoulder.
posted by evilcolonel at 1:33 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


How about Linn Burton

Bert Weinman Ford, 3535 N. Ashland Avenue

Aronson Furniture

And here's Harry, for La Preferida
posted by Ironmouth at 1:40 PM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


The best thing about WGN and its superstation cable reach is that even if you grew up in shit-nowhere Illinois, after living in Chicago long enough, your brain gets scrambled and you feel like you had the childhood you wanted because your memories are so similar to those who actually grew up here, thanks to television.

Also

.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:43 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


In Massachusetts it is 1-800-54-GIANT

And the guy who owns that can be seen on TV 82+ times a year, front row, center at Red Sox games. I don't know him but I hate him and his stupid hair.
posted by yerfatma at 1:47 PM on April 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


588.2300

That guy and Bozo the Clown are my fond memories of Channel 32 from Chicago. Never really understood how a TV station could be not attached to a network till my town finally got channel 45.
posted by rikschell at 1:52 PM on April 27, 2011


Indianapolis folks, surely you also remember the Menard's girl?
posted by leotrotsky at 1:57 PM on April 27, 2011


If a mod passes through, could someone please fix the misspelling of Hauldren's name in the main link? Thankyouverymuch.
posted by briank at 1:57 PM on April 27, 2011


Only recently supplanted in earworm terribleness by 1-877-KARS-4-KIDS.

Is that just a late-night low-budget thing? I had to listen to that godawful commercial over and over back when I was working a night shift about a year and a half ago, and was forced to listen to NJ 101.5 for the duration of my shift. Seemed like the entirety of their late-night ad space was taken up by PSA ads, which was ironic considering that their late-night programming consisted entirely of hyper-conservative radio hosts railing against the government. Worse still -- it was always the same three PSA ads.

I hate to think that "normal folks" are subjected to that too. But then again, I stopped voluntarily listening to radio-stations-that-are-not-NPR years ago.

posted by schmod at 2:00 PM on April 27, 2011


That guy and Bozo the Clown are my fond memories of Channel 32 from Chicago.

Wasn't Bozo on WGN?
posted by Toekneesan at 2:02 PM on April 27, 2011


.

Now I'm going to have 588-2300 Em-pire going through my head all day.
posted by MikeMc at 2:02 PM on April 27, 2011


Is Empire "Quality, Comfort, and Price - That's Nice." as well?

That's Bernie and Phyl. They're getting on in years, too.

And Mayor Curley, I had no idea that KARS-4-KIDS wasn't just confined to Boston until now. Good lord, that's a horrifying prospect and I feel truly awful for any other regional market that has to endure the jingle.
posted by Spatch at 2:06 PM on April 27, 2011


To give an idea of the reach of these commercials - I grew up in Puerto Rico, where basic cable is basically what is considered free TV in the US (for example we used to get ABC from the NYC affiliate, NBC from the Atlanta affiliate, etc). Included in that package, for some reason, was also WGN, and I am willing to bet that there are quite a few Puerto Ricans who will immediately recognize "588-2300...Empiiiiiire!" from back in the day.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 2:06 PM on April 27, 2011


At least we have the Apex tech guy to remind us that he can't call you; you have to call him.
posted by dr_dank at 2:11 PM on April 27, 2011


Oh man. I remember a grade school event where a firefighter was talking to us about stuff and he asked who knew the number for Empire Carpets. We dutifully chorused "588-2300 - Em-pire!" Then he asked who knew the non-emergency number for the local fire department. Dead silence. Poor guy, he was clearly exasperated by this.
posted by restless_nomad at 2:12 PM on April 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Radio, not TV, but "The Shane Company" has been a fixture on local Seattle radio stations forever, at least 30 years now (unless they've stopped recently). I could do a very good Tom Shane and once called into a radio station pretending to be him (when I was 17). Got on the air and everything.

I also cannot hear the name of the town of Renton without also hearing "service loaners for life," the tagline of another incessant local advertiser.
posted by maxwelton at 2:26 PM on April 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm using an iPad and every time someone's written 588-2300 in this post, it's made a link to add it to the address book. Of course, it's the one phone number I'd be able to summon in just about any circumstance. In the last few years, we're been getting some ads in the same form for Luna carpet, but I haven't the foggiest idea what their phone number is.
posted by hoyland at 2:34 PM on April 27, 2011


Another one: Celozzi Ettleson, WHERE YA ALWAYS SAVE MORE MONEY
posted by goethean at 2:38 PM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think this was the topic of a sketch (which they never completed/aired) we saw in James Franco's SNL documentary...a vocal audition gone awry for that very commercial. Yes?
posted by stevil at 2:44 PM on April 27, 2011


leotrotsky: "Indianapolis folks, surely you also remember the Menard's girl"

Nope, Don's Guns.
posted by mwhybark at 2:46 PM on April 27, 2011


"we're been getting some ads in the same form for Luna carpet, but I haven't the foggiest idea what their phone number is."

877-241-LUNA. I'm ashamed of myself for knowing that.
posted by MikeMc at 2:48 PM on April 27, 2011


Also, my sister and I referred to Mr. Hauldren as 'Mr. Monkey Man' because in the ads from the seventies, he does this little set cross walk from one carpet sample rack to another and as he does so, the cable from his lav mike pulls out from under his suitcoat and trails behind him on the floor at an angle, bearing an unmistakeable resemblance to a long thin tail.
posted by mwhybark at 2:50 PM on April 27, 2011


@
posted by bafflegab at 3:01 PM on April 27, 2011


Bob ROOOAAAAAARHMAN!


Also

.
posted by tzikeh at 3:04 PM on April 27, 2011


.....
........
........
..
...
....................................................................................................
posted by donpardo at 3:11 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


EM-piiiiire.

.

And for all the Southern Californians in the audience:
1-800-APPLIANCE!
posted by librarylis at 3:13 PM on April 27, 2011


Five-Eight-Eight. Two-Three-Hundred. Empiiiiiiiire.

Today.
posted by grabbingsand at 3:16 PM on April 27, 2011


Now I'm going to have 588-2300 Em-pire going through my head all day.

The cure for an earworm is a different earworm. There can be only one.
posted by stbalbach at 3:18 PM on April 27, 2011


"we're been getting some ads in the same form for Luna carpet, but I haven't the foggiest idea what their phone number is."

877-241-LUNA. I'm ashamed of myself for knowing that.


What? No. 773-202-(boop beep boop beep) LUNAAAAA.
posted by misskaz at 3:32 PM on April 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


I suspect every region has their own version of the well-advertised 1-800 number that is instantly known to a local but means nothing to someone from away.

The thing about the Empire number is that it didn't start out as an 800 number. When Chicagoland was still 312 area code, the number was just 588-2300 Empire. But after it got divided up into 312, 773, 847 etc. they created the 800 number. Singing with 800 is just all kinds of wrong.

.
posted by nooneyouknow at 3:46 PM on April 27, 2011


.
posted by nj_subgenius at 3:47 PM on April 27, 2011


Someone should do a mega-mashup of just the phone numbers from earwormy jingles.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:02 PM on April 27, 2011


Wow, I always thought he was the owner.

The Empire Man, Victory Auto Wreckers ("that old car is worth money...") and Eagle Man Insurance will always remind me of my childhood.

.
posted by hooray at 4:12 PM on April 27, 2011


Eagle Man! Now *that* set the bar for shitty local ads, not least of all when Eagle Man lays an egg (!) on the roof of a wrecked auto. If I recall, the bangs of the two actresses involved were of epic proportions as well.
posted by joe lisboa at 4:20 PM on April 27, 2011


I've got something for you!
posted by joe lisboa at 4:22 PM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Indianapolis folks, surely you also remember the Menard's girl?

Do you mean the Watson's girl? Everyone's favorite hot tub peddler.
posted by curlyelk at 4:29 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I loved that commercial. I remember hearing it every time I went to Chicago to visit my cousin as a kid. It meant I was in Chicago, and good times were had.

For those hungering for a different ear worm:

One, sir, two, sir, three, sir, four, sir,
Five, sir, six, sir, seven, sir, eight, sir,
Tenser, said the tensor,
Tension, Dissension, and Apprehension
have begun.

That should keep the telepathic cops off your trail long enough to committ your murder.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:32 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


This generation will never forget 877-CASH NOW
posted by drezdn at 4:34 PM on April 27, 2011


I grew up in the Chicago suburbs (Vernon Hills) and lived there from 1975 to 2007. I had no idea that all these 70s and 80s commercials were so well known around the country, but evidently WGN had a much wider reach than I ever thought!

Other great Chicago classic commercials:


  • Lincoln Park Zoo (It's Brand New)


  • Tru-link Fence ("It's not just a fence, it's a Tru-Link Fence!")


  • And of course, Harry Caray's Bud man commercials (God bless ya, Harry)

  • posted by zooropa at 4:53 PM on April 27, 2011


    For Chicago commercials, how about Novelty Golf and Games? It still plays sometimes, and is the auto-playing music for the home page of their website.
    posted by misskaz at 4:57 PM on April 27, 2011


    Older Detroit viewers will always remember Tyler 87100 for a home improvement date. WE DO GOOD WORK.
    posted by various at 5:03 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


    Just stumbled across this little gem featuring Shelly Long well before Cheers and during her run at Second City.

    Maybe you never noticed but Homemakers doesn't have furniture sales. The reason is we can't. We simply can't figure out how the fuck they work.

    Homemakers: A division of John M. Symth.
    posted by Toekneesan at 5:05 PM on April 27, 2011


    Indianapolis folks, surely you also remember the Menard's girl?

    I dunno since I haven't seen their TV ads, but that jingle is horrifying. Every time someone tells me about visiting Menards for whatever, I am compelled to ask, "Did you save big money?" The worst part is they play the jingle about every two minutes in the store itself, which is obnoxious on even a short visit as a customer. I can't imagine how awful it must be to work there.
    posted by asperity at 5:14 PM on April 27, 2011


    Here's Sarasota's worst earworm ever (click lyrics to hear it) They still use the same jingle from the 60's. If you are fonder of alcohol than classy surroundings, it's a must see. They tell me
    posted by Redhush at 5:16 PM on April 27, 2011


    I had never seen any Empire ads until I moved to L.A. in the 90's. I always liked Mr. Haludren's voice, and will forever remember those ads along with Jack Stephan's from the days before we could afford cable.

    .
    posted by usonian at 5:30 PM on April 27, 2011


    I can't believe no Chicagoan has mentioned Hudson 3-27-hundred yet.

    If this WGN lovefest goes on much longer, we'll all be weepily singing "Hardrock, Coco, and Joe".
    posted by FelliniBlank at 5:31 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


    That guy and Bozo the Clown are my fond memories of Channel 32 from Chicago.

    Nope, which gives me the chance to bring up my own Chicago earworm, starring Bozo:
    Kids in Chicago, havin' a good time. They're all watchin'.... Channel Nine!
    posted by Bernt Pancreas at 5:34 PM on April 27, 2011


    And continuing my mini-golf theme, here's Putt Putt (For the Fun of It) from my hometown Buffalo NY area. Great song that I can still sing to this day.

    Also, not a jingle but for creepy homegrown commercial spokespeople, no one beats Jim "The Hammer" Shapiro. "I cannot rip out the hearts of those who hurt you! I cannot hand you their severed heads! But I can hunt them down and settle the score! I'll squeeze them for every dime I can!"
    posted by misskaz at 5:35 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


    I'm surprised no one's mentioned the fact that the Luna carpet owner did this to his gravestone.

    Wonder if they'll do the same for Empire Carpet Guy.

    Met him a couple of times. I came away with the impression he was a genuinely nice person.

    .
    posted by UnoriginalUser at 5:38 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


    Aw. I remember moving to Chicago, plugging in my TV for the first time, and hearing the Empire jingle immediately. Years later I happened to run into The Empire Carpet Guy (never knew his name till today!) and got all excited and said, "you're him!" And he smiled and said "who?" And immediately I started to sing "588," and the person walking past stopped and sang the rest.

    .
    posted by scody at 5:58 PM on April 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


    One of the great comforts of moving from Illinois to Michigan was still having Lynn the Empire guy (and other WGN delights) to remind me of home. Even today, I watch the WGN noon (1 pm, ick) news when I can, not just for the hometown vibe but primarily for the world-class meteorology!

    Even though it's not local (or reputable), I'm glad the earworm-jingle torch is being carried by my shih tzu Schuyler's #1 favorite barkalong tune: "Call J.G. Wentworth, 877-CASH NOW."
    posted by FelliniBlank at 6:09 PM on April 27, 2011


    This seems like an appropriate time to mention Fuzzy Memories, the Museum of Chicago Classic Television.
    posted by tip120 at 6:12 PM on April 27, 2011


    1-800-MATTRESS (Leave the last S off for Savings!)
    posted by KingEdRa at 7:07 PM on April 27, 2011


    I know who we can get to paint the coffin for just 99.95.
    posted by Smedleyman at 7:38 PM on April 27, 2011


    Another memorial compilation of commercials (self-link). I can't imagine getting carpet from anyone else.
    posted by me3dia at 9:12 PM on April 27, 2011


    . The man has gone, but the goddamn jingle will never die. I hope Hauldren's heaven is plush and stain resistant, with no monthly payments til July. May it always be June.

    His Empire spot was Citizen Kane compared to this Chicago classic.
    posted by applemeat at 9:25 PM on April 27, 2011


    I guess from now on, I'm Thinkin' Lincoln
    posted by ShutterBun at 10:52 PM on April 27, 2011


    To round out the presentation, this, this, and this.

    Thanks for the memories, Empire Carpet Guy!
    posted by gjc at 5:50 AM on April 28, 2011


    I was a little sad when they eliminated the old animation and replaced the commercial ending with the 3D version. Because the happy smiles the plants and etc. made when the new carpet unrolled beneath them was always amusing to me as a kid. New carpet, happy everything.

    When the man himself stopped appearing in the commercials, I figured he wasn't doing so well. Sad to hear he is gone. Hopefully he's with the happy plants now.
    posted by caution live frogs at 7:12 AM on April 28, 2011


    Empire is everywhere, it seems: we've been recently getting the ads with the computer animation. The guy's presence made him seem like a cornerstone with no backstory. Our local evil jingle genii are these folks who for years have used their mid-80s photos on both their trucks and advertising. They recently started doing live shots again and dang, they'd aged! Worse, they've slipped in adds with just -part- of their earwormy jingle (smartly, the first part, with the phone number), making all of us finish it for them.
    posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:18 AM on April 28, 2011


    back in the day i had the hots for the empire guy's daughter.
    posted by lester at 2:17 PM on April 28, 2011


    .
    posted by Gelatin at 2:54 PM on April 28, 2011


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