Rudolph R. Perz, the inventor of the Pillsbury Doughboy, has died at the age of 89. In 1965, Perz was a copywriter at the Leo Burnett advertising agency in Chicago when he came up with the idea for the character, also known as Poppin’ Fresh.
Perz described early versions of the trademark as too closely resembling Casper the Ghost, which then led to the creation of a three-dimensional character. The Pillsbury Doughboy, with his unforgettable laugh, would become a national icon, earning references in shows from The Simpsons to The Golden Girls and a place in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.
“We are saddened by the loss of Rudy Perz,” Liz Nordlie, the president of Pillsbury, said in a statement. “Nearly 50 years ago, he created one of America’s most loved and adored characters, the Pillsbury Doughboy. Our thoughts are with Rudy’s family during this difficult time.”
Next month, Perz and the Pillsbury Doughboy will be part of an exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Broadcast Communications honoring the greatest icons in American advertising.