Michael Vale, Star of Dunkin' Donuts Commercials and The Frogs, Dies at 83
Through 1997, Vale played Fred the Baker in the Dunkin' Donuts commercials and made pop culture marks with the line "Time to make the donuts." Vale won such popularity in the role that when he retired, Jon Lovitz played Vale in a sketch on "Saturday Night Live."
To theatre fans, however, Vale most notably created the role of Xanthias in the original Yale production of Stephen Sondheim's The Frogs. He also appeared on Broadway in Unexpected Guests, Neil Simon's California Suite (understudying Jack Weston), Saturday Sunday Monday, 42 Seconds from Broadway, The Impossible Years, Saul Bellow's The Last Analysis, The Egg, and the Albert Hague musical Cafe Crown, which also featured Theodore Bikel and Alan Alda.
Vale, who also appeared in over 1,300 TV commericals and films such as Looking Up, Marathon Man and A Hatful of Rain, was born in Brooklyn and studied at the Dramatic Workshop alongside classmates such as Tony Curtis, Rod Steiger and Ben Gazzara.
Vale played Xanthias--the role portrayed by Roger Bart in the recent expanded Lincoln Center production--in The Frogs at Yale in 1974. The Sondheim-Burt Shevelove musical (which is also famous for appearances by Sigourney Weaver, Christopher Durang and Meryl Streep in its ensemble) featured Vale crossing Yale's pool in the role of the slave, who with the god Dionysus, witnesses the ignorance of mankind.
According to the AP article, Dunkin' Donuts stated that Vale's character "became a beloved American icon that permeated our culture and touched millions with his sense of humor and humble nature."