Little Clara Peller was born in Russia and came to the USA at the age of 5 with
an uncle. She grew up in Chicago and lived most of her life as an
average human being. She got married at age 20 and gave birth to two children,
a son Leslie and a daughter Marlene. She later divorced.
Clara supported herself as a manicurist for 35 years and was living in the Belmont
Hotel on the North side of Chicago.
She was magically in the right
place at the right time. In the early 1980s there was a commercial being
filmed nearby, and they needed a manicurist's hands. Someone scrambled to a
nearby shop and spotted Clara doing her Madge routine. They brought her to
the set and introduced her to the director, Joe Sedelmaier. "She looked up at me with that great smile, that look in her eye, and
that unbelievable voice saying, "How ya' doin', Honey?" I used
her whenever I could after that.
In 1984, she made the infamous commercial.
Fact: The original line was supposed to be, "Where is all
the beef?" Clara had a breathing problem, so they shortened it.
Also, Clara was hard of hearing. They put a technician behind her to tug
her dress when it was time to deliver her beefy lines.
The commercial was an instant hit and Clara became a cult celebrity, long before
Youtube churned out thousands a day, and on real TV too!
Inevitably someone was desperate to get their panties in a
twist about anything. Senior citizens groups decided to grab the reigns that
day, and try to poo on everyone's parade by claiming the ad was mocking older
folks. WTFEver. Honest to God this pc crap is ridiculous.
People obviously didn't care, according to some reports, Wendy's profits rose
31%. Clara herself had a single fingered response, "I like the
Then Clara made an oops. According to some, Clara
assumed that since her contract with Wendy's stipulated that she couldn't do an
ad for a competing company, she would be okay with doing one for Prego spaghetti
sauce. The line Clara uttered was, "I found it!" Wendy's
was pissed. The line was a direct response to the Wendy's commercials, but
it wasn't for a Wendy's product. Everyone knows that Dave packs the
meat, not some stupid spaghetti sauce. It was beef curtains for Clara. Wendy's dumped
"I've made them millions, and they don't care about me."
According to Wikipedia, Wendy's entered a two year slump after ditching
Clara. Har har har.
On August 11, 1987, Clara died of congestive heart failure in her daughter's apartment in Hyde Park.
No doubt, little Clara was removed from the apartment from this
She is buried in Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park, IL.
Clara claimed she only made about $30,000 from the
commercials, but Wendy's claimed she made about $500,000. I'm on Wendy's
side here. In my tiny experience in (accidental) commercial acting, I had to speak 4
words in a UPS commercial. I made over $16,000 that year from those 4
I remember going to a screening of Henry - Portrait of a Serial Killer.
An old pal of mine played the hooker that got her neck snapped in the car.
At the screening I sat in front of woman that played the model in that other Wendy's commercial - the
Soviet fashion show. She was nice, and I was so nervous. I thought she was
practically royalty. A real tv star.
Former Vice-President Walter Mondale used the line against
rival Senator Gary Hart in his bid for the Democratic nomination in the 1984
presidential campaign. Don't they ruin everything?