“The Most Interesting Man in The World” Really Is!
By Patrick Douglas
Jonathan Goldsmith just might be the most recognizable man on television; his face is broadcast dozens of times a day on just about every channel, his voice is unmistakable, and the lifestyle he represents is envied by all. People of all ages recite quotes from his fictitious tale everywhere from the office to bars to church to school. Why? Because Goldsmith flawlessly, compellingly, and dead-pan humorously portrays The Most Interesting Man in the World in the immensely popular Dos Equis beer ads.
In a case of art imitating life, it turns out Goldsmith might actually be worthy of the title for real. He’s acted in hundreds of television shows, has shared the screen with some of the most influential people in Hollywood history, has climbed mountains, sailed seas, and even saved a life or two.
Goldsmith’s ridiculously long resume includes acting gigs on “Perry Mason,” the original “Star Trek,” “Bonanza,” “Gunsmoke,” “Streets of San Francisco,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Rockford Files,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “CHiPs,” “Dynasty,” “St. Elsewhere,” “T.J. Hooker,” “Knots Landing,” “The A-Team,” “Knight Rider,” “MacGyver,” “Dallas,” and “Magnum P.I.” ~ and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
He played alongside a young Clint Eastwood in Hang ‘Em High, was ironically shot by John Wayne between the eyes in The Shootist, and fought alongside Burt Lancaster in Go Tell The Spartans, which earned Goldsmith Oscar-worthy praise by a writer for the New York City News.
He worked with and learned from guys like Henry Fonda, James Garner and Glenn Ford and lists Joan Fontaine as the most interesting female with whom he’s ever shared screen time.
Yet through all the Hollywood experiences and accolades, it’s his role as the fantastic salt-and-pepper-bearded adventurer in the Dos Equis commercials that gets him chased by fans wherever he goes.
It’s an honor that Goldsmith cherishes, even though he admits living in his new home in Vermont is a little more relaxing than being chased around L.A. by beer commercial fans.
“I wish it had come 40 years ago but it didn’t. It’s a little bittersweet in a way,” shared Goldsmith during an interview from that very home. “I was a journeyman actor. It could’ve happened for me years ago but it didn’t but at least it did happen.”
Ninety-five percent of his acting experience came prior to the ‘90s ~ when he suddenly decided to bid adieu to Hollywood and start his own business.
“I made a living all my life as an actor until 1989 when things started to slow down. My hair got grayer and I wasn’t getting the leading roles anymore. I just had enough,” said the now 73-year-old actor who has more 20-something fans that Hollywood hotties a third his age.
In his time away from the acting business, Goldsmith traveled the world and called a boat docked off the coast of California home. Years before his fictional character in the Dos Equis commercials “bowled overhand,” or “arm-wrestled Fidel Castro,” Goldsmith was living a life that could easily have made it into one of his Dos Equis commercials.
“I’ve been fortunate enough in two different circumstances to save two lives. I’ve been a mountain hiker. I’ve traveled all through the Caribbean on my sailboat,” said Goldsmith, pausing to light his pipe. “I’ve lived on and off sailboats for 36 years. Been caught in some pretty bad storms.”
“I’ve been in the back country in Mexico and throughout the Caribbean as well as in the Sierras,” he continued. “Climbed some mountains. Mount Whitney, which at the time was the highest mountain, they thought, in the lower 48, outside of Alaska’s Mount McKinley. That was an easy hike but on that hike, we saved a guy’s life. [He] was lost in a snow storm.”
Goldsmith is also an avid fisherman who spent a good portion of his youth testing the waters in Big Sky Country. “I was living in California and my dad was in New York and we’d meet [in Montana] and spend a week fishing together,” he added. “It was wonderful. Had a great time.
Seven years ago, Goldsmith entered a seemingly impossible quest to land a gig with Dos Equis, competing with hundreds of actors from all over the world. He made the cut to the final three and was about to be passed over when his wife/agent made a final plea to the producers.
“They said, ‘We really like him, but we’re thinking of going a little bit younger.’ My wife said, ‘How can you have the most interesting person in the world who doesn’t have life experience?’ They realized ‘You can’t’ and called back 15 minutes later and we screen tested,” he said. You’ve gotta live a life to have a life.”
Goldsmith is also a philanthropist; he’s devoted the past 55 years to helping abused children and is deeply committed to www.freearts.org.
“Since I was 18, I’ve been involved with handicapped and kids at risk. I used to go out into the streets in a clown costume and face paint kids for a buck or two to call attention to child abuse,” said Goldsmith.
“I joined an organization almost 40 years ago called Free Arts for Abused Children. All volunteers, some big name people. We would go into institutions where kids were under lock and key protection from their own parents,” he added. “That’s an important part of my life.”
While there are preliminary talks to turn the Dos Equis guy into a film or television character, now isn’t the time, said Goldsmith.
“The run gets better and better and the numbers go up and up,” he said. “That can come later. Dos Equis, very wisely, wants to keep this campaign as it is. We’ve had book deals thrown at us and a major company wanted to do a feature film.”
“Right now, we don’t have to do that. There’ll be time for that later, I think. I hope. It’s a funny business,” he added. “Sometimes when it’s over, it’s over. It’s a hell of a run and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. It’s just opened a world for me that was always closed.”
Both photos courtesy of Anderson PR