When a Very Young John Dickerson Starred in a Toothpaste Commercial With His Mom

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 17 2013 2:29 PM

My Brush With Fame

In 1975, when I was 7, I did some commercials with my mom and brother. I’d never seen any of them until this Thanksgiving, when one of my older sisters surprised us with a DVD of an ad for Aim toothpaste that I was in.

My mom was a news correspondent whose career at the networks had ended, and she helped support the family through giving speeches, writing a book, and doing commercials. My brother and I were included in the ads because, even though she had been the first woman news correspondent for CBS 15 years earlier, it was still a requirement that she also be a mother in charge of her children’s dental hygiene.

Advertisement

I remember our flight to Florida where the ad was shot. My brother and I stood in pajamas in the middle of the day brushing our teeth in some suburban bathroom. It took forever and the lights were hot. I’m not sure why we had to do so many takes, but, as you can see, someone appears to have told me to really put the whole arm into it. I’d like to think that spitting out the toothpaste was my own improvisation that broke the creative logjam.

We did another commercial around the same time for something called Propower Orange Drink. It was a Tang-like product that never made it to market except in Tulsa or some other small city. If the Aim ad ran, no one around our parts saw it. The lack of local air play for either ad caused two different reactions from my friends. First, they thought I was a liar. If you were in an ad why can’t we see it? The second reaction was to conflate me with the other kid on television: Mikey from the Life commercials. Rumor went around that I was Mikey! That wasn’t true, of course, though at summer camp I may not have corrected people as fast as we’d all hope.

John Dickerson is Slate's chief political correspondent and author of On Her Trail. Read his series on the presidency and on risk.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Technocracy
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.