It's no longer time to make the donuts. After 15 years of dutiful crack-of-dawn service, one of commercialdom's most famous characters retired last week: Dunkin' Donuts' monotone, mustachioed baker, Fred.
''We are ready to focus more on the customers' experience with our products,'' says a Dunkin' spokesperson of the character's end. To honor this sad day, we spoke with Fred's portrayer, 73-year-old actor Michael Vale, who's starred in about 100 Dunkin' commercials and will continue making live appearances as a Dunkin' Diplomat.
EW: Has Fred made you rich?
Michael Vale: I get paid in donuts. That's a joke! That's one of my jokes!
EW: Are you worshipped by cops?
MV: Oh, yes, yes. Once I was driving and got pulled over, and I couldn't figure out why. The cop wanted my autograph.
EW: Fred the Baker got up a 4 a.m. What time do you get up?
MV: On average, between eight and nine. I read The New York Times, have coffee, eat a bagel or a donut, and feed my bird.
EW: Have you ever actually made donuts?
MV: I'm on record as having made one. I didn't add the sprinkles or frosting I was too exhausted.
EW: Some trendy types believe Krispy Kremes are better than Dunkin'.
MV: They're not in the same league.
EW: You had a bit part in Marathon Man. What was it like working with Laurence Olivier?
MV: It was the most wonderful experience of my life ... He called [us actors] schmucks, but he did it with love.
EW: What are some of your other brushes with greatness?
MV: Barbra Streisand babysat for my son. She was very quiet and shy ... She borrowed a pair of my wife's red shoes. She stills owes us the shoes and my wife could use them.
EW: Do you have a favorite Dunkin' spot?
MV: The one with a split screen [and two Fred the Bakers]. I got paid twice.
EW: How about a favorite donut flavor?
MV: They're all my children I love them equally.