RIP: Actor Milt Moss dies at 93
Milt Moss, Actor in Classic Alka-Seltzer Ad, Is Dead at 93
Milt Moss, a comic actor who delivered the rueful catchphrase “I can’t believe I ate that whole thing” in a memorable commercial for Alka-Seltzer in 1972, died on Sept. 26 in Manhattan. He was 93.
His nephew Roger Fox announced the death this week.
Mr. Moss was a nightclub comedian and master of ceremonies in the tradition of Henny Youngman. His routines were based around well-trodden one-liners, bits and imitations.
He opened for performers like the singer Robert Goulet and appeared on television with Milton Berle, Merv Griffin and Johnny Carson. He was also known as a master of the put-on, convincing unwitting audiences at official events that he was a legitimate speaker, like a chief executive or ambassador, and then slowly veering from the reasonable into the absurd before revealing that he was a comedian.
And he appeared in commercials, of which the most famous was the Alka-Seltzer spot. Written by Howie Cohen and directed by Bob Pasqualina, it featured Mr. Moss sitting on the side of his bed with a hangdog expression. He slowly shakes his head while repeating the line “I can’t believe I ate that whole thing.”
The commercial struck a chord with dyspeptic viewers around the country, and in 1977 it was admitted to the advertising industry’s Clio Awards Hall of Fame. The advertisement made Mr. Moss recognizable to a national audience, helping him book more conventions, club dates and TV appearances.
“That commercial changed my whole life,” Mr. Moss told the television historian Kliph Nesteroff in an interview in 2011.
Mr. Moss’s most famous line has resurfaced in popular culture several times. For example, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” was the quotation accompanying Homer Simpson’s unkempt high school yearbook photo on an episode of “The Simpsons.”
Milton Moss was born in the Bronx on Oct. 25, 1922, to Anton Moss and the former Eva Goldstein. His father was a comedian who performed as Eddie Clarke.
Mr. Moss joined the Army after graduating from high school. He served from 1942 until 1945, entertaining troops at a facility in Belgium during World War II, then attended New York University before turning to comedy and acting full time.
In the 1950s, he performed as a comedian and puppeteer on the Ray Heatherton children’s show “The Merry Mailman.” In 1965 he appeared on an episode of “The Patty Duke Show.”
He married Dorothy Gorman in 1956. She died in 2000. No immediate family members survive.