The loneliest guy in town*
Ol' Lonely*, the Maytag repairman, has been featured in a long running series of television commercials for Maytag brand appliances. The basic premise linking all of the spots is that Maytag's products are so dependable that they never need service, thus leaving the repairman to while away his duty hours in boredom and solitude. The character was created by Maytag's long-standing advertising agency, Leo Burnett USA.
Three actors have played Ol' Lonely. The first was actor Jesse White, debuting the role in 1967 in a spot called "Drill Instructor." Maytag trainees were taught to while away the hours with cards and crosswords. A basset hound, Newton, became Ol' Lonely's sometime companion in 1980. White played the repairman character until 1989.
He was succeeded by Gordon Jump, known for his WKRP in Cincinnati role as the WKRP station manager, Arthur Carlson. Jump's repairman took on an Apprentice (known simply by that name) in 2001. Jump played the repairman role until illness forced his retirement after 14 years, in July 2003.
The latest actor to take on the role is character actor Hardy Rawls, who has previously worked in Nickelodeon's Pete and Pete. The Apprentice (actor Mark Devine) is expected to continue in his earnest sidekick role.
In Quebec, the francophone version of the lonely Maytag repairman is played by Paul Berval.
Noded on the occasion of Gordon Jump's passing in September 2003 at age 71.
* registered trademark of Maytag Corporation