January 16, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Tommy Lasorda’s side gig? Hamming it up on TV and in movies

Tommy Lasorda, the legendary L.A. Dodgers manager who died Thursday at age 93, had a second career of sorts appearing on TV shows and in movies and commercials.

Lasorda, who managed the MLB team from 1976 to 1996, played himself on the television series “Fantasy Island” in 1978, “Hart to Hart” in 1979, “Police Squad!” and “CHiPs” in 1982, and “Simon & Simon” and “Silver Spoons” in 1985.

In the first “CHiPs” episode of the show’s sixth and final season — which also featured Richard Simmons playing himself — Lasorda is pulled over for speeding by Erik Estrada’s Ponch and a new partner played by Tom Reilly — who doesn’t recognize the Dodgers manager, despite Lasorda introducing himself and saying he’s “late for the World Series.”

“I’m Tommy Lasorda! Haven’t you seen my commercials?” he protests. Alas, his jacket reads “Valenzuela.” Estrada/Ponch admits he knows Lasorda but says he still has to issue a citation. The new guy says he’ll write it up fast.

Lasorda also played the character of Jimmy Dunphy in the forgettable 1979 movie “Americathon,” which starred Harvey Korman, John Ritter and Fred Willard and featured Elvis Costello, George Carlin, Meat Loaf attacking cars and Jay Leno boxing old ladies.

Lasorda’s Dunphy is a sports announcer who calls the fight between Larry “Poopy Butt” Miller (Leno) and his mother, Adele Miller (May Boss). Among Lasorda’s “Americathon” lines: “This fight has been brewing for over 30 years, and Adele is bound to prove to her son, like she’s told him a million times before, ‘Your mother’s always right,’ and what a right she has.”

In the 1990s, he appeared in the Rodney Dangerfield girls soccer movie “Ladybugs” as Coach Cannoli and in “Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco” as the voice of Lucky Lasorda, plus the TV shows “Life With Louie” as Coach Larry Rockwell and “Everybody Loves Raymond” as himself.

During his 20-year stretch as manager of the Dodgers, Lasorda also leveraged his fame into a number of commercial deals. He did a spot for Yoplait Yogurt in 1979 in which he spoke French, and another commercial in 1983 in which he spelled heartburn relief R-O-L-A-I-D-S.

Another fun spot was for Commodore’s Amiga computer, which ran in 1989. That commercial, which aimed to show all the things an Amiga computer could do for its user, featured Lasorda arguing stats with a kid who’s sitting at his PC. It costarred no less than astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the Pointer Sisters and the late Rep. Tip O’Neill, Democrat speaker of the House from 1977 to 1987.

The man who said he bled Dodger Blue also served as a pitchman for Ultra Slim-Fast in the early 1990s.

In the Slim-Fast spots, a once-pudgy Lasorda regaled viewers with the benefits of the shake-based diet plan, which he said helped him lose 30 pounds in three months. “Losing weight has never been so convenient,” he says in one ad, pausing for a sip of the canned meal supplement. “Wherever I am, I can have my shake.”

“Icy cold annnnnnd delicious,” Lasorda continues. “Who says you can’t take it with you?”