the Gorilla - In 1970, the American Tourister company began to air a commercial
starring Oofi, a caged gorilla and former circus performer who jumped, stomped,
and generally banged the hell out of a piece of red American Tourister luggage to
demonstrate the product's durability.
"Dear clumsy bell boys, brutal cab drivers, careless doormen, ruthless
porters, savage baggage masters, and all butter-fingered luggage handlers all of
over the world. Have we got a suitcase for you."
Directed by Mark Celetano, the original American Tourister
"Gorilla" ad was produced by the Doyle, Dane and Bernbach agency in
1969. It cost $33,000 to make and ran for 15 years.
1999, TV Guide ranked the American Tourister spot as the top 6
commercials of all time, out of 50 commercials selected by 37 ad and marketing
executives, commercial directors and journalists who cover advertising.
Inside Oofi's hairy gorilla costume was
actor Don McLeod, the world's foremost pseudo-simian who has since starred in a
variety of monkey roles including the lead ape on the syndicated TV series
TARZAN: THE EPIC ADVENTURES/SYN/1996-97; the movies Trading Places (1983) and
Naked Gun 2 and 1/2: The Smell of Fear (1991); and a surprise visit to the
Moscow Circus where he appeared in a cage and fooled the people into thinking he
was the real thing. McLeod was called America's Foremost animal actor by
People and Entertainment Weekly magazines.
The 5-foot 8-inch gorilla full-body costume with moveable eyes, lids, brow, mouth,
lips and smile was made of silicone rubber, urethane, fur, foam, spandex,
Otto, a 550-pound lowland gorilla appeared in the
1996 print ads for the luggage company American Tourister. Born in Africa and
then sold to the Houston City Zoo in the 1960s, Otto spent his last years in the
Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Florida. He died on June 2, 2007 at the age of 42.
Otto the Gorilla in American Tourister Ad
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