February 9, 2018

Let us hold a symposium. It shall be titled, “What was George Plimpton?”


In December, we reported on our discovery of a heavenly trove of TV arcana: commercials in which Paris Review co-founder and good-natured self-aware tie rack George Plimpton extolled the surpassing graphics and unrivaled thrills of IntellivisionMattel’s now-long-forgotten lunge for Atari’s home-gaming throne.

It was, in a word, sublime.

Today, as we wake up and check whether the folks in Washington are forcing America to have a government even though Rand Paul really doesn’t one, we may linger in that browser window, look back to a simpler time. A happier time. A time when George Plimpton, the man who wrote Paper Lion and said “no more ballyhoo” in Good Will Hunting, was selling stuff on TV.

What kind of stuff, you ask? Wonderful stuff.

I don’t know what it is, exactly, but… I love this.

I mean, his pronunciation of the word “kernel” alone is worth the price of admission. The tall and cheerful way he says “Pop Secret leaves very few unpopped kernels, and works in any microwave!” The surprising precision with which he identifies the philosophical nature of the unpopped kernel: “a small disappointment, but one that popcorn lovers could do without.” Man, I could watch George Plimpton sell popcorn all day.

And then there’s this:

There’s something amazingly fun about George Plimpton. “There are windows everywhere. Eleven of ’em.” He makes everything look hokey, and worth doing. This 1969 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser commercial is from another dimension, and it rules.

Plus, did you know there is a minor planet named after George Plimpton? Did you know that George Plimpton wrestled Sirhan Sirhan to the ground after he shot Robert Kennedy? That in 1996 he uploaded a short video to celebrate that the Paris Review had “joined the Voyager internet site so that you can find out something about this magazine by pulling it up on a computer”?

George Plimpton, people. George Plimpton.

And a hot plate:

Ian Dreiblatt is the director of digital media at Melville House.