RIP Elmer Lynn Hauldren, the Empire Carpet Guy

Ever heard of Elmer Lynn Hauldren? It's not an instantly recognizable name. But Hauldren is familiar to millions as the mustachioed Empire Carpet Man, whom he first portrayed in commercials nearly 35 years ago. Just as well known is the "5-8-8, 2-3-Hundred, Em-PIRE" jingle, which Hauldren himself composed. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Hauldren studied journalism but quickly shifted to copywriting and worked as a creative director at various Chicago agencies before opening a shop of his own. As the Carpet Man, he gave delightfully unflashy performances, projecting charm and likability while taking a no-nonsense approach. For example, in the 1986 spot below, his pitch-perfect delivery of lines like "Don't you just love these other companies? They sell carpet with one hand, kitchen sinks with the other" sounds folksy, wise and a tad ticked-off at the same time. His expressive face really sells it. It's a knowing, understated portrayal, perfectly in tune with the brand. He said Empire was the carpet company to pick, and made you believe it. What more can you ask of a pitchman? Elmer Lynn Hauldren died on Tuesday at age 89.