Still haven’t haven’t had your big break? Well, don’t despair, because you’re in good company! These five famous people who are household names today languished in relative obscurity throughout their careers only to find fame after death when their corpses appeared in Dentyne Ice commercials.
1. James Dean
It’s shocking to think that there was ever a time when James Dean wasn’t an immortal sex symbol synonymous with the golden age of Hollywood, but before his tragic death at only 24 years of age, he was just another up-and-coming actor. His legacy as an icon of youthful rebellion was only cemented decades later when his rotten body was exhumed in a 1998 TV spot for Dentyne Ice, where puppeteers made Dean’s corpse say, “Be a cool customer like me, James Dean, the dead actor. Chew Dentyne Ice.” As soon as the commercial hit the airwaves, America became obsessed with his hunky mummified corpse and James Dean went from forgotten actor to superstar overnight.
2. Emily Dickinson
Today she might be considered one of the all-time great poets, but Emily Dickinson’s work didn’t make it into the mainstream until after Dentyne Ice used stop animation in a commercial to show her skeleton breaking apart and reforming to spell out the words “Dentyne freshness” on a beach. Dentyne was immediately bombarded with questions about who the animated bones belonged to, and massive demand from Dentyne Ice fans convinced Reader’s Digest magazine to publish Dickinson’s nearly 1,800 poems for the first very first time 100 years after her death. Dickinson’s poems instantly became bestsellers, and it’s all thanks to Dentyne’s decision to use her bones in a gum commercial. Amazing.
3. Jean-Michel Basquiat
While well known in the NYC art scene during his lifetime, the works of painter Jean-Michel Basquiat multiplied in value 100 fold when his corpse’s appearance in a Dentyne Ice commercial catapulted him to international stardom. The commercial showed a sexy nurse, desperately performing CPR on Basquiat’s dead body while she chews Dentyne Ice gum. After pronouncing Basquiat dead, the nurse kisses him, which causes his corpse to turn into snow and blow away on the wind. After people saw Basquiat’s dead body in that gum commercial, he became absolute royalty in the art world. As a result of what art collectors refer to as “The Dentyne Ice Effect,” prices for Basquiat’s art immediately skyrocketed as deep-pocketed gum fans rushed to own a piece of Dentyne history.
4. Robert Johnson
Now the stuff of legend, hugely influential blues guitarist Robert Johnson would have remained a mere footnote in music history had Dentyne Ice not used his corpse as their spokesman in a series of commercials in order to save money over hiring a living person. Despite Johnson’s body being barely recognizable as human due to the rudimentary embalming techniques used in 1938 when he passed, the commercials caused a renewed interest in Johnson and his music and he posthumously became a blues legend widely considered to be one of the Godfathers of rock and roll.
5. Bruce Lee
You’ve heard of Bruce Lee, right? Of course you have. And it’s all thanks to a 2003 Dentyne Ice commercial where his dead body was launched out of a catapult and through the ice on a frozen lake to illustrate what it feels like to chew just one piece of Dentyne Ice. The whole world knows who Bruce Lee is now, but it took dying and then starring in a Dentyne Ice commercial for him to achieve that level of fame.