Chuck McCann, the actor and comedian behind some of classic TV’s most iconic commercials, has died at age 83. McCann, whose prolific career included work as a children’s TV host, puppeteer, nightclub comic, actor, and voiceover performer, died of congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his publicist told The Hollywood Reporter.
McCann was born in Brooklyn in 1934 and grew up in Queens. Chuck got his start in the kiddie TV genre on Captain Kangaroo and went on to become beloved children’s entertainer and puppeteer on New York’s daytime TV lineup.
In 1963, McCann headlined The Chuck McCann Show, and later, Chuck McCann’s Laurel & Hardy TV Show. Some of Chuck McCann’s early TV shows in the New York area included The Puppet Hotel and Let’s Have Fun, which featured his impersonation of Little Orphan Annie. In 2012, Chuck told PIX11 how he came up with the idea to create his signature Little Orphan Annie lookalike.
“I was down in the cafeteria and I put the containers for the creamer in my eyes,” McCann said.
Of his other famous impersonation—Oliver Hardy from the classic comedy team Laurel and Hardy—Chuck formed a close friendship with his real-life alter ego’s partner, Stan Laurel. McCann even described Stan Laurel as a father figure to him.
By the late 1960s, McCann had expanded his career to include voice work and acting. Chuck made his movie debut in the role of Spiros Antonapoulos in the 1968 film, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. And it wasn’t long before he took on one of his most prolific voice roles as Sonny the Cuckoo Bird for General Mills’ Cocoa Puffs cereal. McCann became known for his character’s catchphrase “I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!”
Chuck McCann also became a familiar face when he stared in a series of TV commercials for Right Guard deodorant. In the memorable advertising campaign that aired throughout the 1970s and ’80s, Chuck played an annoying guy who shared a see-through medicine cabinet with his neighbor. McCann would routinely greet his unsuspecting bathroom buddy with, “Hi, Guy!”
Chuck’s film roles included Herbie Rides Again (1974), Silent Movie(1976), and Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993), and his TV acting resume included recurring roles on Knots Landing and Boston Legal as well as guest spots on Little House on the Prairie, Starsky & Hutch, Mad About You, and a guest role as Santa Claus on The Facts of Life
McCann also enjoyed a prolific career as a voice actor. Chuck’s voice roles included Ducksworth in DuckTales: Remastered, Mayor Grafton on The Garfield Show, Heff Heffalump in Disney Channel’s The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Pinky/Blinky on the 1980s Pac-Man cartoon series.
Over his six-decade career, Chuck McCann racked up more than 160 acting and voice credits on everything from Knight Rider to Powerpuff Girls. McCann’s final acting credit came in 2017 when he voiced Mike Pence on the TV show Friend or Foe.
Take a look at the video below to see one of Chuck McCann’s famous Cocoa Puffs commercials.