Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Michael Vale, Star of Dunkin' Donuts Commercials and The Frogs, Dies at 83

Michael Vale, who was most famous for his 15-year stint in Dunkin' Donuts commericals and who also performed in a number of musicals and plays, passed away at the age of 83 on December 24th in New York City. He died of complications from diabetes, according to an Associated Press article.

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."


Related Stories

More Hot Stories For You


TITANIQUE Extends Limited Off-Broadway Engagement Through Early NovemberTITANIQUE Extends Limited Off-Broadway Engagement Through Early November
August 18, 2022

The world premiere of Titanique, the irresistibly funny and irreverent new musical send-up of the blockbuster film Titanic, featuring the songs of pop icon Céline Dion, has been extended. Due to ticket demand, the limited Off-Broadway engagement at The Asylum Theatre will now play through Sunday, November 6, 2022.

Hell in a Handbag Productions to Present World Premiere of FRANKENSTREISAND by Tyler Anthony SmithHell in a Handbag Productions to Present World Premiere of FRANKENSTREISAND by Tyler Anthony Smith
August 18, 2022

The music... the mem’ries... the magic... the dog cloning! This Halloween season, Hell in a Handbag Productions kicks off its 2022-23 season with the world premiere of FRANKENSTREISAND by Tyler Anthony Smith* and directed by Stephanie Shaw, playing September 29 – October 31, 2022 at Redline VR.

Complete Cast & Creatives Announced for STRANGER SINGS! THE PARODY MUSICAL Off-Broadway ReturnComplete Cast & Creatives Announced for STRANGER SINGS! THE PARODY MUSICAL Off-Broadway Return
August 18, 2022

The award-winning, hit show Stranger Sings! The Parody Musical, has announced the complete cast and creative team for the Off-Broadway return this fall. Playhouse 46 at St. Luke’s will be transported into satirized versions of Hawkins, Indiana, and the Upside Down, with performances set to begin on Monday, September 12th.

Smith Street Stage to Present Reimagining of MEASURE FOR MEASURE at The Mark O'Donnell TheaterSmith Street Stage to Present Reimagining of MEASURE FOR MEASURE at The Mark O'Donnell Theater
August 18, 2022

SMITH STREET STAGE has announced their reimagining of William Shakespeare’s  MEASURE FOR MEASURE, directed by Raquel Chavez and Beth Ann Hopkins. MEASURE FOR MEASURE will play a three-week limited engagement at The Mark O’Donnell Theater at The Entertainment Community Fund Arts Center.

SOUTHERN NIGHTS: MICHAEL INGERSOLL SINGS GLEN CAMPBELL to Play Marriott Theatre in OctoberSOUTHERN NIGHTS: MICHAEL INGERSOLL SINGS GLEN CAMPBELL to Play Marriott Theatre in October
August 18, 2022

Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire has announced a two-night engagement of SOUTHERN NIGHTS: MICHAEL INGERSOLL SINGS GLEN CAMPBELL, a heartfelt salute to the country-western singer who became a crossover sensation with hits like “Gentle on My Mind,' and “Rhinestone Cowboy.”