You remember these TV commercials, right? And that jingle tag with the phone number: “588-****, EmPI-I-IRE!

Those were for Empire carpets, and the commercials were showing up so often on Michigan TV, we thought the Empire Man was a Michigander. But nope. He was from Chicago.

Just who was that guy who did those commercials and how did he land that gig as spokesman? His name was Elmer Lynn Hauldren, born in Missouri on April Fool's Day, 1922.

He began his own advertising business after World War II, called Lynn Hauldren Creative in Chicago. After winning several ad awards, in 1977 he found himself working on a campaign for Empire Carpets. The Empire company had pre-approved an actor to play the role of the Empire spokesman but for some reason, the actor couldn't be found. Instead, they asked Hauldren to take over the role as spokesman for the time being.

From then on he found himself in the unexpected role of “The Empire Man” from 1977 to 2011...he even had his own bobblehead!

After the TV commercials stopped using live actors (going to CGI animation), Hauldren was still providing the voice.

What about that famous jingle tagline? Hauldren himself wrote that, and the backing vocalists called themselves The Fabulous 40s. Hauldren also recorded albums of barbershop music with the group Chordiac Arrest.

The phone number is still one of the most recognizable tags to this day, thanks to Hauldren. Elmer Lynn (Empire Man) Hauldren kept at those commercials until the day he passed away on April 26, 2011 at the age of 89. Even though he was based in Chicago, we still think of him as a Michigan TV pitchman.

Elmer joins the ranks of these other classic TV pitchmen:


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