Ed Reimers dies at 96; Allstate placed ad campaign in his hands
By By Dennis McLellan
Aug 18, 2009 | 12:00 AM
Ed Reimers, the veteran television and commercial announcer with the deep, resonant voice who for more than two decades reassured viewers that "You're in good hands with Allstate," has died. He was 96.
Reimers, an early on-air personality at KTTV-Channel 11 in Los Angeles in the 1950s, died Sunday of age-related causes at his daughter Kathryn R. Manning's home in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
For 22 years, beginning in 1957, Reimers was the TV spokesman for Allstate Insurance Co.,memorably cupping his hands and delivering the company's famous slogan at the end of the commercials.
Reimers also did Allstate commercials for radio and appeared in print advertising for the company in which he is shown making the cupped-hand gesture.
"The Allstate family has lost one of its own with the passing of Ed Reimers," Allstate spokesman Raleigh Floyd Jr. said in a statement Monday.
"For a generation of Americans, Ed was the face of Allstate and the company owes Ed a debt of gratitude for helping make Allstate the enduring brand it has become."
Lisa Cochrane, vice president of marketing at Allstate, told The Times that "Ed Reimers was everyman, and he showed those of us in the advertising and marketing business that American consumers wanted to hear from everyman.
"Ed not only put testimonials on the map of the advertising business, but he also put 'You're in good hands' on the map of American advertising slogans."
With his blond -- and later white-haired -- good looks and commanding yet mellow voice, Reimers, who launched his career in radio in the 1930s, had the right look and sound for television.
At KTTV beginning in 1950, his duties ranged from delivering the news to hosting "Movieland Matinee."
Branching out from KTTV, he was an announcer for shows such as "Do You Trust Your Wife?" and "You Asked for It" and the Warner Bros. series "Cheyenne" and "Maverick."
He also would fly to New York City to fill in for Jack Paar's vacationing announcer Hugh Downs on "The Tonight Show."
And through it all, he did commercials for products such as Skippy peanut butter and Crest toothpaste.
"All of a sudden, he got really hot," said his daughter. "He was doing commercial after commercial after commercial."
He was especially busy with Allstate, she said.
After a hurricane, flood or other national disaster, "he'd fly in, and they'd do their commercials," she said. "I have pictures of him in a trench coat setting up and interviewing people, with the whole place sort of demolished around him."
And Allstate "loved him," she said. "He was really part of their team, not just their spokesman. Whenever they had their conventions, he and my mother would be invited. Up to his death, he was getting a pension check from them."
Reimers also occasionally appeared in small roles on television and in films.
He played a minister in the 1965 film "The Loved One" and Adm. Fitzpatrick in "The Trouble With Tribbles" episode of "Star Trek."
In addition to his commercials, Reimers narrated industrial films for Lockheed Missiles & Space Co. and Aerojet-General Corp.
Up until he died, his daughter said, "he could recite lines from Shakespeare and his own poetry. He never lost a bit of his mental acuity."
Born Edwin Warren Reimers on Oct. 26, 1912, in Moline, Ill., he worked as an announcer at numerous radio stations in the 1930s, including WHO in Des Moines.
As a Marine in the Pacific during World War II, he set up radio communications and broadcast to the troops.
Reimers moved from Brentwood to Saratoga Springs after his wife of 58 years, Katherine, died in 2007.
In addition to his daughter, he is survived by two grandsons.