Bill Murray’s cinematic turn as a schill for Suntory Whiskey was very much a case of art imitating life. Over the years, countless celebs — actors and directors, artists and musicians, even cable TV tycoons — have filled their gullets (and their wallets) in the service of advertising alcohol.
From the classy to the kitsch, the sublime to the ridiculous (with a preponderance of the latter) here are 10 outstanding examples of well-known faces fronting campaigns for refreshing, intoxicating beverages.
10. SEAN CONNERY FOR JIM BEAM
No martinis today, thanks bartender. It’s Beam, Jim Beam for Sean Connery in this circa-1967 ad for the Kentucky bourbon.
9. ORSON WELLES FOR PAUL MASSON
Having peaked young and descended into bloated self-parody in his later years, the great Citizen Kane director turns his pudgy hand to promoting an execrable Californian Cab Sav here. (Watch some depressingly drunken outtakes from a Welles / Masson TV spot below.)
8. WOODY ALLEN FOR SMIRNOFF
“The heart wants what it wants,” says Woody Allen — in this case, the comedian and auteur clearly heartily desires a stiff drink.
7. GEORGE CLOONEY FOR LANCELOT WHISKEY
Clooney does an utter Lost in Translation turn in this 2003 Korean ad for domestic dram Lancelot, sold under the somewhat baffling slogan “Good whiskey needs no bush.”
6. PETER LAWFORD FOR SUNTORY
Prototypical ‘relaxing times’, Rat Packer Peter Lawford gets tuxed up to promote the “lighter, mellower” Suntory Royal. Doubtless a source of deep inspiration for Sofia Coppola.
5. QUENTIN TARANTINO FOR DEWAR’S
A slow and methodical director who takes years between films, Tarantino isn’t known for rushin’ things. But when he’s getting into Russian things, he chooses Dewar’s 12-year-old.
4. TED TURNER FOR CUTTY SARK
Iconoclastic CNN founder and courageous, ‘Captain Outrageous’ yachtsman Ted Turner “puts his feelings where his mouth is” (and a funny little hat upon his head) in this late-1970s Cutty Sark ad.
3. SALVADOR DALI FOR OLD ANGUS
The surrealist once said, “Every morning when I wake up, I experience an exquisite joy — the joy of being Salvador Dalí — and I ask myself in rapture: What wonderful things is this Salvador Dalí going to accomplish today?” Here’s just one of those wonderful accomplishments.
2. REX HARRISON FOR BOOTH’S GIN
No-one could accuse Rex Harrison of being a ‘Doctor Doolittle’ in his efforts to extol the virtues of Booth’s House of Lords Gin, the English actor drawing parallels between the dramatic arts and those of the mixologist: “A Martini is like a play. It can be terribly good or terribly poor… The preference today is for the gentleman’s Martini, meaning a Martini that establishes harmonious rapport with the audience... I suspect the Booth’s people are as meticulous about making their gin as I am in developing a role,” quoth the beknighted actor.
1. ROBERT CARLYLE FOR JOHNNIE WALKER
This genius six-minute single-shot film stars Scottish actor Robert Caryle, spinning the history of his country’s most iconic export as he strolls the Loch Doyne countryside, encountering an array of appropriate props with immaculate timing. Bonnie work. Give that man a drink.