Michigan’s TV Pitchmen #3: Mel Farr, Superstar!
“Mel Farr, Superstar” was a slogan we heard on local TV for years.
Mel Farr was a superstar, on two different levels. He was drafted to the Detroit Lions in 1967 and stayed with the team for seven years. His performances with the Lions were so extraordinary, that Mel was selected the NFL’s “Rookie of the Year” for 1967.
Soon, Mel was plagued by injuries on the field. In 1968, he was injured in a game against the San Francisco 49ers and underwent knee surgery. He bounced back and was back to his old self until he was once again injured on the field, this time in a 1969 game with the Chicago Bears. After a second knee surgery he was back on the field in 1970.
Mel was so popular and well-liked, that he was asked to add backing vocals to Marvin Gaye’s 1971 hit “What’s Going On”.
In 1971, Mel signed a new three-year contract with the Lions, but his past injuries hampered his performances. He continued as a Lion for a couple more years and finally, in 1973, he said he was ready for retirement.
In the spring of 1974, Mel was traded to the Houston Oilers, which clinched his decision to quit. Rather than moving out of Michigan, Mel decided to quit football and stay.
He used his football money to buy an old defunct Ford car dealership in Oak Park, and with that, his second life as a ‘superstar’ was hatched.
Mel Farr Ford locations were spread out through a handful of states, and his TV commercials featured Mel dressed up as a superhero, flying through the air to give customers a “Farr better deal”. He was a good TV pitchman and viewers dug his commercials. Check out some of Mel Farr’s commercials below.
In 2003, Mel sold his last dealership and was ready to retire for good. He suffered brain damage from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, more than likely caused by the body-slamming he got while on the football field.
Mel Farr passed away in Detroit on August 3, 2015 from a heart attack.
I really liked that guy.