September 30, 2013
Hockey Legend of a Different Kind: Murray Westgate
This is Murray Westgate. For 16 years, from 1952 to 1968, he was the friendly face of Imperial Oil, the main sponsor of Hockey Night in Canada.
With his gravelly voice he'd plug Imperial Oil for 90 second spots shot in a studio across the street from Maple Leaf Gardens. He'd end the commercial with one of his signature sayings like "Happy Motoring" or "Put A Tiger In Your Tank," followed by "Now let's get back to the Gardens."
In the early years the spots were filmed live, making for some interesting gaffes that only Westgate might notice. He was paid a whopping $75 for each episode, but he paid for it in the end when he had trouble finding other acting work in Canada because he was too well known as the gas man. Here's an excellent interview with him.
A long-time stage, TV and CBC radio actor, Westgate may have been best known for these commercials. The veteran of World War II (Royal Canadian Navy) had a long resume. But let's take a look at some of his best work:
In 1991, Westgate returned for one more commercial -
By The Way: In Quebec, CBC and Imperial Oil had a different pitchman. Phillippe Robert.