The actor who played “the most interesting man in the world” is more interesting than you might have anticipated.
Goldsmith’s star turn came late in his career, in his late 60s, when, “living like a hobo,” he was called to audition for a Dos Equis beer campaign. He was dubious about how “a Jewish guy from the Bronx” could be a pitchman for a Mexican beer, but he was not exactly swimming in competing offers. “They want a Hemingway kind of guy,” his agent told him; they also wanted storytelling improvisation at the audition, asking only that it end with the line, “And that’s how I arm-wrestled Fidel Castro.” Goldsmith’s memoir reads like a collection of tall tales, though the author insists they are true, and it suggests that he spent his whole life preparing to audition for the role he would never have imagined. The spirit of adventure channels Hemingway, while the tone (of the commercials as well) owes more to Fernando Lamas, or “Fern, as I came to know him,” who served as a mentor of masculinity for the younger actor. The adventures extend to the bedroom, where his lovers included the semifamous (Tina Louise), the anonymous, and the pseudonymous—e.g., “Wind Nymph.” With a flair for name-dropping, Goldsmith recalls his rivalry with “Dusty” Hoffman, with whom he often competed for parts and to whom he prophesied, “I’m going make it and you’re not.” (Oops! “Over the next forty years, I would have those words to eat.”) The author has lived a colorful life, to be sure, and he relates it in anecdotal chapters of a couple of pages each, but no publisher would have been interested if a chance commercial break hadn’t given him his breakthrough. In the wake of that, Michael Jordan asked to have a picture taken with him, and he was invited to Camp David as “a birthday surprise for President Barack Obama.”
A lightweight entertainment that demonstrates the old saw that life can truly be stranger than fiction.