Answer Man

Mayehoff sold his comedic skills in Falstaff ads

Eddie Maeyhoff
Eddie Maeyhoff NBC-TV

Q: Who was the man who played the “Old Pro” in those Falstaff beer commercials I used to see during National Football League games 50 years ago?

Bob Astroth, of Breese

A: Hey, did you hear the one about the salesman who discovered his real talent was comedy?

No joke. According to his biography, that’s a one-liner that perhaps best describes the late Eddie Mayehoff, who still draws belly laughs for his portrayal of Harold Lampson, the henpecked husband and incompetent lawyer in the classic 1965 Jack Lemmon comedy “How to Murder Your Wife.”

A 1932 graduate of Yale University’s School of Music, Mayehoff quickly ditched his salesman’s suitcase to become a jack-of-all-trades in the entertainment business, including work as a band leader and radio comedy writer. By 1940, the 31-year-old Baltimore native already was hosting “Eddie Mayehoff on the Town,” a Mutual Radio Network program in which he caricatured New Yorkers.

But this husky-voiced entertainer with an elastic face wasn’t satisfied sitting unseen behind a microphone, so he made the jump to TV already in 1946, when he hosted a series called “Hour Glass.” Then, in his first movie role, he had audiences roaring when he played ex-pro football star “Jarring” Jack Jackson, who tried to prod his goofy son (played by Jerry Lewis, naturally) into sports in the 1951 comedy “That’s My Boy.” Mayehoff did such a good job that he was asked to reprise the role when the movie was turned into a short-lived TV series in 1954.

Mayehoff, however, was only warming up. He worked with Lewis in two more films — “The Stooge” and “Artists and Models” — and had other comedic roles in “Off Limits” in 1952 and “Luv” in 1967. In addition, he tackled the stage and earned a Tony nomination for his performance as Gen. Tom Powers in Gore Vidal’s 1957 hit, “Visit to a Small Planet.”

Apparently, though, he often took his relationships less than seriously, too. Of four marriages, Mayehoff later admitted he was earnest only about the one that lasted for 11 years. He had no children.

Later in life, he reportedly returned to his roots as a partner in a sales promotion and advertising firm, dropping pretty much out of sight except for his occasional appearances as the Old Pro in the Falstaff ads. His last credited role on the Internet Movie Database was in a 1970 episode of “Nanny and the Professor.” He died in 1992 in Ventura, Calif. at age 83, leaving a niece as his only known immediate survivor.

Q: With flu season coming soon, please settle a question. In the past couple of years, I’ve had at least a couple of mothers tell me that I really shouldn’t do anything when my children are running a fever. Are they right?

— H.T., of Glen Carbon

A: Just because little Johnny or Susie is working up a sweat doesn’t mean you should, too. According to dozens of professionally reviewed studies, treating mild fevers connected to a cold or the flu in kids or adults actually can slow the body’s own natural curative powers and, in the end, prolong the illness.

Naturally, that’s not going to be the first thought of parents. They see their child complaining of feeling hot or maybe minor chills, so they immediately rush off to the medicine chest for some kind of pill to ease the discomfort. But sometimes it’s not wise to fight Mother Nature because she really does know best.

The trouble may be that we’ve had it drilled into us that 98.6 degrees is “normal” body temperature. In reality, experts say, the 1868 study establishing that standard likely was significantly flawed in its methodology and instrumentation compared to what we know today. Recent studies show that healthy temperatures actually fluctuate during the day, ranging anywhere from 97.7 to 99.9, depending on the hour and the person, according to the American Council on Science and Health. A person’s temperature may even differ at the same time one day to the next.

When a fever does strike, the American Medical Association’s Internal Medicine Journal says it is “a complex physiologic reaction to disease, involving a cytokine-mediated rise in core temperature, generation of acute phase reactants, and activation of numerous physiologic, endocrinologic and immunologic systems,” according to Dr. Philip A. Mackowiak at the University of Maryland.

In simple English, it means that when you have a mild fever (say, 101 or less), your body is revving up its defenses, which, in healthy people, will help conquer whatever nasty bugs are ailing it. When you take aspirin or acetaminophen, you may be like an Army general who withdraws his forces from the front too early. On the National Institutes of Health PubMed.gov database, you can find more than two dozen articles that say taking common OTC drugs for a fever can prolong sickness — or even harm the patient — compared to just letting the body do its thing. Remember, though, that once a fever goes above 101 or 102, it may be time to seek medical attention.

While we’re on the subject, please remember that antibiotics cannot treat a cold or the flu, so avoid asking for them when you get a common case of the sniffles. (It’s estimated that 80 percent of middle ear infections in children will clear up without them, too, according to WebMD.com.) Also, please be careful with acetaminophen (Tylenol, etc.) dosages. While the drug is generally safe when taken as directed, the American Council on Science and Health reminds you that it doesn’t take much beyond that to cause harm. In fact, the group says, most people who commit suicide by overdosing with Vicodin or Percocet die not from the narcotic but from the other major ingredient in the pills — acetaminophen.

Today’s trivia

What’s an ananym?

Answer to Sunday’s trivia: After serving two years in America’s Civil War, 21-year-old William Frederick Cody was contracted by the Kansas Pacific Railroad to supply its workers with buffalo meat. In just an 18-month-period in 1867-1868, Cody says he killed 4,282 American bison, thus earning him the nickname “Buffalo Bill.” But it wasn’t quite that easy. Hunter William Comstock also claimed the name so the two reportedly engaged in an eight-hour buffalo shootout with the winner earning exclusive rights to the title. Cody said he easily won the challenge 68-48 because while Comstock chased the critters from behind, Cody rode to the front to first target the leaders, which made the followers easy pickings.

Roger Schlueter: 618-239-2465, @RogerAnswer

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