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

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.


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.


Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Do the Celebrities Whose Nude Photos Were Stolen Have a Case Against Apple?

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company


How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Sept. 18 2014 3:19 PM In Defense of Congress Leaving Town Without a New War Vote
Business Insider
Sept. 18 2014 3:31 PM What Europe Would Look Like If All the Separatist Movements Got Their Way
Sept. 18 2014 3:24 PM Symantec Removes Its “Sexual Orientation” Filter
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 3:30 PM How Crisis Pregnancy Centers Trick Women
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 3:04 PM Pogo Returns With Another Utterly Catchy Disney Remix
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 2:39 PM Here's How to Keep Apple From Sharing Your iPhone Data With the Police
  Health & Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.