HOLLYWOOD -- Veteran actor Robert Young, who won America's confidence as the revered Dr. Marcus Welby and Jim Anderson, the father who inevitably knew best, said Wednesday he has been dismissed by Sanka coffee as its TV spokesman.
Young, 75, however, greeted news of his firing by General Foods Inc. with Anderson's cheerfulness and Welby's stoicism, conceding the ads might have been getting 'annoying and repetitious' but admitting the salary for his work was like having 'a license to steal.'
His dismissal ended a five-year association with the video commercials which paid him more for the one-minute spots than he ever earned in either of his popular television series, 'Father Knows Best,' which ran for nine years, and 'Marcus Welby, M.D.,' on the air for seven seasons.
In the commercials, Young found himself cheerfully talking some nervous wrecks into quitting regular coffee in favor of the decaffeinated brand.
'In all my 55 years of show business I have never been dismissed, let go or released in a higher, more stylish manner,' Young said happily.
'Three weeks ago the advertising agency, Young and Rubicam, sent two lady representatives from New York to California to take me and my wife, Betty, to lunch, and to break the news.
The ad executives assured Young they were were not dissatisfied with his work but that General Foods wanted to change directions. Instead of a famous spokesman, they wanted man-in-the-street interviews extolling the virtues the product.
'They decided my commercials had been milked to the limit,' Young laughed. 'I agreed with them. They were becoming repetitious and annoying. They might have begun turning people off the product.
Young said he was paid more for 10 days' work a year doing the 10 commercials than he was for seven months work as the famous Dr. Welby.
'The nicest thing about being fired this time is that after the ladies broke the news, they asked me to be guest of honor at a black tie dinner at New York's Twenty-One Club Sept. 8. to celebrate our association,' Young said.
Young said he will talk to another company about commercials while he is in New York next week.
'For years I turned down commercials as being demeaning and a step down for professional actors.
'But when I learned how incredibly well they paid, Betty, convinced me I should work for Sanka and set up a scholarship fund with the funds for our grandchildren.
'The money involved is unbelievable. It's a license to steal - better than holding up a bank.'