Isaiah Mustafa as The Old Spice Guy

1. Isaiah Mustafa as The Old Spice Guy Top

Old Spice put themselves on the map with the iconic “Smell Like a Man, Man” ad in 2010, which aired during Super Bowl XLIV. The guy on the horse is none other than Isaiah Mustafa, the former wide receiver for Arizona State.

Isaiah Mustafa is one of the most famous commercial actors of all time! His charm and comic delivery led to a dramatic 125% increase in sales for Old Spice body wash. That’s one powerful character actor!

Where Else You’ve Seen Him: Isaiah Mustafa had a key role in 2019’s It Chapter Two. He played Mike Hanlon, the wisest member of the Losers Club.

Stephanie Courtney as Flo From Progressive

2. Stephanie Courtney as Flo From Progressive Top

Progressive commercial actors are a dime a dozen, but the insurance company has used Flo for over 10 years. She’s become a mainstay in pop culture, even showing up as a popular Halloween costume. Flo is played by Stephanie Courtney, an actress from New York with a background in theater, improv, and standup comedy.

Courtney gets paid a reported $1 million per year to play Flo. The commercial character’s intense enthusiasm for customer service has turned her into an advertising icon.

Where Else You’ve Seen Her: Stephanie Courtney starred as Gayla in the 2007 comedy The Heartbreak Kid. She’s also played supporting characters on “Man Men” and “The Goldbergs.”

Nicole Randall Johnson & Katie Crown as the DriveTime Girls

3. Nicole Randall Johnson & Katie Crown as the DriveTime Girls Top

Tina and Tara, a.k.a. the DriveTime Girls, made their commercial debut in 2013. In the ad, the two are seen cruising around in a Ghostbusters van as they rap about getting approved for credit to buy a car. Yup!

The commercial is a success thanks to Nicole Randall Johnson and Katie Crown’s natural chemistry. The commercial characters are so memorable in the ad, they helped drive more business to the company. To date, DriveTime has financed over 4 million people across the United States.

Where Else You’ve Seen Them: Nicole Randall Johnson delivered laughs on “MadTV” from 2005 to 2007. Katie Crown does a lot of voice work with a resumé that includes: “Bob’s Burgers,” “American Dad,” and the 2016 animated film, Storks.

Jason Alexander as Colonel Sanders

4. Jason Alexander as Colonel Sanders Top

Over 15 TV commercial actors have played Colonel Sanders since 1980. Norm Macdonald, Billy Zane, Rob Lowe, Ray Liotta, and Reba McEntire have donned the white suit, black bow tie, and crispy bucket o’ chicken. Jason Alexander, however, is hands down one of the most memorable on the list.

Alexander was called in to help promote KFC’s new “$20 Fill Up” meals. These dinners included a mix of delicious chicken, sides, and biscuits and were advertised as feeding a family of four.

Where Else You’ve Seen Him: Jason Alexander is best known for playing George Costanza on the hit show “Seinfeld.”

John Gilchrist Jr. as Mikey for Life Cereal

5. John Gilchrist Jr. as Mikey for Life Cereal Top

Life Cereal took the world by storm in the late-70s and 80s. The ads starred one cute little TV commercial actor named John Gilchrist Jr. Gilchrist plays Mikey alongside his real-life brothers, one of whom utters the now iconic catchphrase: “He likes it!”

People must have really liked the ad because it ran from 1972 to 1986. That’s 14 years of the Mikey Life Cereal commercial being on television!

Where Else You’ve Seen Him: John Gilchrist Jr. has left the world of acting behind. He now works in media sales for the New York Knicks.

Vanessa Branch as the Orbit Gum Girl

6. Vanessa Branch as the Orbit Gum Girl Top

If you were a 90s kid, you probably remember the Orbit gum girl played by another famous TV commercial actor, Vanessa Branch. In the ads, Branch wore an iconic all white outfit and fashionable scarf, and convinced everyone to chew more gum with the catchphrase: “Dirty mouth? Clean it up with Orbit.”

Branch, who was crowned Miss Vermont in 1994, brought a “fabulous” vibe to the commercials. Today, Orbit has a new gum girl and is one of the leading brands of sugarless gum with $302.9 million in sales in 2019.

Where Else You’ve Seen Her: Vanessa Branch starred as Giselle in all three Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

Dennis Haysbert & Dean Winters for Allstate

7. Dennis Haysbert & Dean Winters for Allstate Top

It’s hard to choose just one Allstate guy. Dennis Haybert and Dean Winters are both extremely famous commercial actors, bringing their own charisma and charm to the insurance company.

Dennis Haysbert has been the Allstate spokesman for over 15 years. With his deep booming voice and calm, reassuring presence, you know “you’re in good hands.” Dean Winters, on the other hand, is like the devil on the other shoulder. His darkly comedic commercials have been a huge hit for the insurance company. In fact, Allstate increased their ad spend by 23.7% in order to continue promoting with the “Mayhem” commercials.

Where Else You’ve Seen Them: Dennis Haysbert starred as an ambitious politician on Fox’s “24.” Dean Winters, on the other hand, is best known for his roles on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “30 Rock.”

Hallie Eisenberg as the Pepsi Girl

8. Hallie Eisenberg as the Pepsi Girl Top

Have you ever seen The Social Network or Zombieland? If so, you might be familiar with Jesse Eisenberg, the star of both films. Hallie Eisenberg is his little sister, and she’s best known for being the Pepsi girl in commercials that aired in the 90s.

These ads were just one part of a major branding effort by Pepsi. Competing with Coca-Cola, Pepsi tried it all, from Super Bowl commercials starring supermodels to cameos in movies like Home Alone and Wayne’s World. However, it’s Halle Eisenberg that was the most memorable.

Where Else You’ve Seen Her: Hallie’s brother may be the A-list actor, but she still has some work under her belt. She has starred in movies like Holy Rollers and How to Eat Fried Worms.

Charles Stone III as the Wassup! Guy for Budweiser

9. Charles Stone III as the “Wassup!” Guy for Budweiser Top

One word – “wasssup?!” – went on to define a generation in the early 2000s. It first appeared in a Super Bowl ad for Budweiser, and has become so iconic, it was spoofed in the film Scary Movie. The man who plays Dookie in the ad, Charles Stone III, is also the writer and director and was friends in real life with the rest of the guys in the commercial.

During the COVID-19 quarantine in 2020, Budweiser brought back Stone’s famous ad. The idea was to encourage people to support pubs and bars during the difficult shutdown.

Where Else You’ve Seen Him: Charles Stone III is a successful director. He’s been behind the camera for movies like Drumline and hit TV shows like “Black-ish” and “Friday Night Lights.”

Wendy Kaufman as the Snapple Lady

10. Wendy Kaufman as the Snapple Lady Top

Snapple is known for their delicious assortment of juice drinks, but back in the 90s, they were better known for the Snapple Lady. She is one of the most famous commercial characters of all time, offering advice in her signature midwestern drawl.

A total of 37 Snapple Lady commercials aired in a three-year period. People genuinely loved the ads, and by the middle of the decade, Snapple was the 7th largest food and drink company in the United States. A lot of credit goes to Kaufman’s comedic performance.

Where Else You’ve Seen Her: Kaufman took an acting hiatus after the Snapple commercials, but you can still catch her in movies like College Debts and Funny Valentine.

Morgan Smith as the Live Action Wendy’s Girl

11. Morgan Smith as the Live Action Wendy’s Girl Top

While it’s hard to compete with Clara Peller who asked, “Where’s the Beef?” in the 80s commercials, Morgan Smith is a close runner-up. This actress played the live action Wendy’s girl in a series of ads that started in 2011.

Smith was selected to star in the ads based on her hair color, which was red at the time, though she’s typically a blonde. She plans on continuing to play the Wendy’s girl as long as the fast food company is interested. The odds are in her favor as Wendy’s spent $391 million in advertising in 2019 alone.

Where Else You’ve Seen Her: Morgan Smith has played small roles on shows like “Veep” and “Boardwalk Empire.”

Jonathan Goldsmith is The Most Interesting Man in the World for Dos Equis

12. Jonathan Goldsmith is The Most Interesting Man in the World for Dos Equis Top

It’s a lot of pressure to play the most interesting man in the world, but Jonathan Goldsmith rises to the challenge. The dashing gent starred in the commercials for a decade, earning a place as a pop culture icon.

The “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign helped increase sales for Dos Equis by 22%. Not to mention, the Dos Equis guy has become one of the most popular memes of all time. It’s safe to say this is “one of the most interesting ads in the world.”

Where Else You’ve Seen Him: Jonathan Goldsmith starred alongside Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried in 2018’s Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. He also had a reoccurring role as Bruce Harvey in the TV show, “Dallas.”

Jake Stone & Kevin Miles as Jake From State Farm

13. Jake Stone & Kevin Miles as Jake From State Farm Top

Yes, an actual Jake who worked at State Farm played the original “Jake from State Farm.” His college roommate suggested that he try out for a State Farm television spot, and the rest is part of advertising history. In fact, this advertising character is so popular he even has his own Wiki fan page!

Jake’s famous khakis are autographed and hang on the wall at a pub in Bloomington, Illinois. Meanwhile, a new Jake (actor Kevin Miles) came to the commercials in 2020. The insurance company wanted to continue using Jake as their mascot and felt like a “real actor” would better rise to the challenge.

Where Else You’ve Seen Him: Jake Stone has put away his khakis and is living a life out of the spotlight, spending time with his family. Kevin Miles has had bit parts in movies like Emmanuel and Me and TV shows like “S.W.A.T.”

John Hodgman as The PC from the Apple Commercial

14. John Hodgman as The PC from the Apple Commercial Top

You probably recognize Justin Long as the Mac in Apple’s famous commercial from 2006, but who’s the PC? That would be John Hodgman! He’s the older, wiser character that adds humor and humility to out-of-touch technology.

There were a total of 66 “Get a Mac” ads for Apple. The series was so successful, it was named the “Best Advertising Campaign of the Decade” by Adweek. Funnily enough, in an interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Hodgman confessed that he’s actually been an avid Apple user since the 80s!

Where Else You’ve Seen Him: You might recognize Hodgman from minor roles in comedies like The Invention of Lying and Baby Mama. He also lent his voice talent to the character Charlie Jones in the animated film, Coraline.

Milana Vayntrub as Lily Adams in the AT&T Commercials

15. Milana Vayntrub as Lily Adams in the AT&T Commercials Top

Many insurance companies have famous commercial characters like Flo, the Allstate “Mayhem” guy, and Jake from State Farm. AT&T wanted to follow in those footsteps with their own character – Lily Adams, an AT&T customer service employee. She’s played by actress Milana Vayntrub.

Vayntrub has starred in over 40 commercials for AT&T, and all that exposure has made her an overnight celebrity. Unfortunately, this has bred a legion of internet cyberbullies. She’s spoken out against the harmful comments, and AT&T backed her with a public statement.

Where Else You’ve Seen Her: Milana Vayntrub stars as Sloane Sandberg in the show, “This is Us.” She’s also part of the vast Marvel Universe as superhero, Squirrel Girl.

Darrell Winfield as the Marlboro Man

16. Darrell Winfield as the Marlboro Man Top

Smoking is harmful to your health, but back in the 1950s, the world didn’t really know that fact. This led to the creation of the Marlboro Man, a chain-smoking cowboy who was first played by Darrell Winfield.

Winfield was discovered on a cattle ranch by ad agency Leo Burnett, and he was an instant star. With his masculine nature and rugged good looks, the Marlboro Man appealed to both men and women. He ended up on billboards and in print ads over the next decade.

Where Else You’ve Seen Him: Darrell Winfield’s only acting credit was as the Marlboro Man. You may have caught the short-lived TV series about the character that came out in 1968!

House Peters Jr. as Mr. Clean

17. House Peters Jr. as Mr. Clean Top

Before Mr. Clean became an animated character, he was a real-life actor played by House Peters Jr. These Procter & Gamble commercials aired throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

The original commercial character played by Peters had a deep, booming voice, wore a fitted suit, and had a hoop earring dangling from his ear. He also had the shiny bald head that we’ve come to associate with Mr. Clean.

Where Else You’ve Seen Him: House Peters Jr. starred in many Westerns, but is most notably the sheriff in the old TV show, “Lassie.” He also played Shark Man in the 1936 movie Flash Gordon.

Diane Amos as the Pine Sol Lady

18. Diane Amos as the Pine Sol Lady Top

It’s gotten to the point where Diane Amos can’t walk through the grocery store without getting recognized as “The Pine Sol Lady.” This character first appeared in a commercial in 1993 and has been a popular part of the brand ever since.

Clorox worked with ad agency DDB Worldwide on the campaign. They chose Amos because she seemed like an everyday person who would actually use the cleaner. Their choice has paid off as Amos starred in the commercials for over 20 years.

Where Else You’ve Seen Her: Diane Amos is still working in the entertainment field. She has played small roles in movies like Unleashed, Blue Jasmine, and Patch Adams.

Nancy Walker as Rosie the Waitress

19. Nancy Walker as Rosie the Waitress Top

Paper towel commercials usually show the brand in question wiping up a spill, while the generic version is on a split screen leaving a mess. This trope was put to good use for the first time in the 70s through the 90s by Rosie the Waitress, played with great gusto by Broadway actress Nancy Walker.

Bounty’s Rosie the Waitress ads were only between 30 and 60 seconds long, but they were still impactful. Rosie was even named one of the “Top 10 Female Ad Icons of All Time” by Advertising Age Magazine.

Where Else You’ve Seen Her: Nancy Walker was a big television star in the 70s, making an appearance in shows like “True Colors,” “Rhoda,” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” She even had her own show from 1976 to 1977.

J.K. Simmons as the Farmers Insurance Guy

20. J.K. Simmons as the Farmers Insurance Guy Top

Many insurance companies have commercial characters, from Flo for Progressive to the cavemen in old Geico spots. Farmers Insurance followed the trend by hiring actor J.K. Simmons to star in their commercials in 2016.

J.K. Simmons wasn’t interested in starring in any commercials at all, but quickly changed his mind since he liked the tone of the Farmers ads. Simmons starred in over 65 commercials for the company. His star presence and funny demeanor only add more likeability to Farmers Insurance.

Where Else You’ve Seen Him: J.K. Simmons is all over TV! He voices the yellow M&M and has starred in many incredible movies like Juno, Spider-Man, and Whiplash, which earned him an Academy Award!

Paul Marcarelli as the Can You Hear Me Now? Guy for Verizon

21. Paul Marcarelli as the “Can You Hear Me Now?” Guy for Verizon Top

“Can you hear me now?” is one of the most famous slogans of all time. Those five words were said by Paul Marcarelli, a commercial actor who starred in the memorable Verizon ads from 2002 to 2011.

Marcarelli became an overnight sensation for his role in the commercial. He’d get asked for autographs and selfies when he walked around in the airport. Verizon reportedly grew its customer base by 10% the year after the “Can you hear me now?” ad spots were on TV.

Where Else You’ve Seen Him: It surprised everyone when Marcarelli starred in a series of Sprint commercials.

Vince Offer as the ShamWow Guy

22. Vince Offer as the ShamWow Guy Top

Infomercials don’t typically get as much attention as ads on primetime television. Vince Offer changed the game by becoming famous for the high-energy ShamWow commercials.

The first ShamWow commercial, which aired in 2008, was made for only $20,000. Offer was inspired to promote this product on TV after selling it at flea markets. He bought the towels for 50 cents each wholesale and then turned around to sell them for $28 each.

Where Else You’ve Seen Him: Vince Offer is a comedian by day, but he’s never left the world of infomercials behind. He also helped promote the Slap Chop, a kitchen utensil used for chopping veggies.

TV Commercial Actors: Honorable Mentions

Clara Peller as the Where’s the Beef? Lady for Wendy’s

Clara Peller as the “Where’s the Beef?” Lady for Wendy’s

Brandon Moynihan as Captain Obvious for

Brandon Moynihan as Captain Obvious for

Charlotte Ann McKinney as Carl’s Jr. Model

Charlotte Ann McKinney as Carl’s Jr. Model

Carly Foulkes as the T-Mobile Girl

Carly Foulkes as the T-Mobile Girl

Michael Vale as Fred the Baker for Dunkin’ Donuts

Michael Vale as Fred the Baker for Dunkin’ Donuts

What is a Commercial Actor?

What is a Commercial Actor?

Those who study the art of acting often begin their careers by starring in TV ads. To make it in commercial acting, a person needs to have charisma and good comedic timing. They also need to hire an agent, go to auditions, and create a professional headshot and resume.

Brad Pitt, Courteney Cox, Drew Barrymore, Leonardo DiCaprio, Morgan Freeman, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Keanu Reeves are just a few famous actors who first starred in commercials. TV spots are a great opportunity to flex your acting chops and make it in show business.

How Much Do Commercial Actors Make?

According to Zip Recruiter, a commercial actor’s annual salary is usually between $13,500 and $206,000. This number could be even higher depending on the contract.

Your mind may be blown to hear what famous TV commercial actors make!

Wendy Kaufman - Snapple

Wendy Kaufman (Snapple)

Net Worth: $500,000

Vanessa Branch - Orbit

Vanessa Branch (Orbit)

Net Worth: $500,000

Nicole Randall Johnson - DriveTime

Nicole Randall Johnson (DriveTime)

Net Worth: $700,000

Katie Crown - DriveTime

Katie Crown (DriveTime)

Net Worth: $1 million

Hallie Eisenberg - Pepsi

Hallie Eisenberg (Pepsi)

Net Worth: $1 million

Kevin Miles - State Farm

Kevin Miles (State Farm)

Net Worth: $2 million

Vince Offer - ShamWow

Vince Offer (ShamWow)

Net Worth: $2 million

Diane Amos - Pine-Sol

Diane Amos (Pine-Sol)

Net Worth: $2.5 million

Milana Vayntrub - AT&T

Milana Vayntrub (AT&T)

Net Worth: $3 million

Morgan Smith - Wendy’s

Morgan Smith (Wendy’s)

Net Worth: $3 million

Dean Winters - Allstate

Dean Winters (Allstate)

Net Worth: $5 million

Isaiah Mustafa - Old Spice

Isaiah Mustafa (Old Spice)

Net Worth: $5 million

Stephanie Courtney - Progressive

Stephanie Courtney (Progressive)

Net Worth: $6 million

Jonathan Goldsmith - Dos Equis

Jonathan Goldsmith (Dos Equis)

Net Worth: $8 million

Paul Marcarelli - Verizon/Sprint

Paul Marcarelli (Verizon/Sprint)

Net Worth: $10 million

Dennis Haysbert - Allstate

Dennis Haysbert (Allstate)

Net Worth: $20 million

J.K. Simmons - Farmers

J.K. Simmons (Farmers)

Net Worth: $20 million

Usually a commercial actor is only on screen for a minute or less, but you could get lucky and become a reoccurring character like those listed here. In this case, you’ll end up making even more for your role on TV.

Final Thoughts

The actors and actresses on this list breathe life into their characters, and in some cases, have enough power to increase sales for the company. You probably didn’t know the names of the actors in these commercials until now!

Commercials may not be as popular as they used to be, but we still love these famous brand characters. Some of them make us feel nostalgic, while others are still going strong in current commercials. From the charming Old Spice Guy to the endearing Snapple Girl, these TV commercial actors are now part of advertising history!


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