Monday, August 17, 2009

We'd like to think he's in even better hands

The insurance industry has certainly taken a public-relations beating within the last year, what with all the credit default swaps and bailouts and bonuses to executives.

I know less than beans about the intricacies of the insurance business, but I am rock-solid certain of one thing:

None of this would have happened if Ed Reimers were still in charge.

OK, so maybe he wasn't in charge. So maybe he was only a pitchman for an insurance company, namely Allstate.

But to those of us who grew up watching Allstate's commercials in the 1960s, Ed was more than a pitchman -- he was a rock himself.

I should explain for those of you who are much younger: The typical Allstate commercial back then showed a house burning down, its owners (always a family with kids) distraught and overwrought. Then (as I recall; unfortunately none of Ed's oeuvre has made it to YouTube), a guy with a suit would appear with a check that would allow the family to rebuild without any hassles.

Dissolve to Ed, who would wind up the pitch by invariably saying: "You're in good hands with Allstate." While saying this, he would cup his hands, and a little house would magically appear.

And we could all rest easy.

I'd figured that Ed had made his visit to the Great Adjuster in the Sky some years ago, but I am now informed that he died just the other day, at age 96.

It also turns out that he was an actor. He appeared in an episode of "Star Trek" (I seem to remember that) and also portrayed a minister in "The Loved One," the movie version of Evelyn Waugh's satire of the funeral business.

I wasn't aware of that, but I would like to think that at one point, Ed, in character, cupped his hands and a little mausoleum appeared....

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