Sunday, February 01, 2009

Whatever Happened To...Tommy Okon

In the classic Coke ad from 1979, 9-year old Tommy Okon gives his hero, football legend Mean Joe Green, a bottle of Coca-Cola to help sooth Green's aches and pains. After chugging the soda, Green repays Okon by tossing the kid a game-worn jersey.

Anyone who ever drank a Coke from a glass bottle knows Green got the better of that deal! A tall, glass-bottled Coke in the 70s was --not "similar to," but "was"-- nectar from the gods.

According to sources, Okon quit acting shortly after auditioning for and losing the lead in the 1981 TV movie based on the ad, The Steeler And The Pittsburgh Kid. The sources report Okon now works for (some sources say he owns) a stone installation business in Queens, N.Y.

Oh, yeah: Cardinals in an upset. 28-24


Anonymous said...

If he was 9 in 1979 how can he be 31 years old? Did you copy this story from an old source or just bad at math?

The Film Geek said...

Well, damn...

That he was out of acting and where he worked were from several sources, but I didn't check the math. My fingers and toes don't that high, anyway...

I'll fix it, thanks.

Carolyn said...

From the New York Post:


February 1, 2009
Posted: 2:41 am
February 1, 2009

At age 9, Tommy Okon made Super Bowl history when he appeared on television handing football legend "Mean Joe" Greene a bottle of Coke.

Little brown-haired Okon follows a battered and bruised Greene as he limps off the field toward the locker room.

"Mr. Greene. Mr. Greene. You need any . . . help?" he says.

"Un-uh," grunts Greene.

"I just want you to know, I think you're the best ever," Okon says.

"Yeah. Sure," Greene says, turning away.

"Want my Coke?" the kid asks. Greene turns and Okon says, "It's OK. You can have it."

Greene takes it and swigs it down in one gulp. The kid walks away saying, "See you around."

"Hey kid," Greene calls out after him. "Catch." He tosses him his game jersey, and the kid says, "Wow. Thanks, Mean Joe!"

Thirty years later, the former child actor laughs at the lasting fascination with the poignant ad - which Coke is bringing back with a remake starring Pittsburgh Steeler safety Troy Polamalu.

The ad, which is slated to run in the third quarter of tonight's matchup between the Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals, is almost identical to the original - except for a surprise, twist ending.

"I do find it strange that the commercial has continued to have the appeal that it does, or that people continue to always remember it," Okon, now 39, told The Post. "But strange in a flattering way. It's a great thing to be a part of."

These days, Okon is a family man raising four kids in Yonkers, running his own stone-fabrication and installation business in The Bronx and recalling his brush with fame in 1980.

"I think it's great they're doing it again," said Okon, who got a call from Coke giving him a heads-up about the new ad. "Both my parents were born and raised in Pittsburgh, so I love that they chose another Steeler. I love having the association with that team."

Okon grew up in Whitestone, Queens, and starred in over 50 commercials as a kid.

But no commercial was bigger than Coke's famous "Mean Joe Greene" Super Bowl spot, which was shot in a Mount Vernon municipal lot about two miles from Okon's business, Castle Rock Marble and Granite.

"Obviously, at first I was a little timid to approach him," he said. "But he quickly proved what a great guy he is. I remember throwing a football with him and asking him a million questions. He really is a great, great guy."

The Christmas after they made the ad, Greene sent Okon a signed jersey, which he has kept.

He's still in touch with Greene, and the two played phone tag last week. They last saw each other six years ago. Okon said, "Next time he's in New York, I have to get him over to see my kids. He's never seen them."

Okon's wife Kristin and their four kids, Allie, 10; Carly, 8; Jake, 6; and Jenny, 3, "get a kick out of" his star turn, he said. "My son thinks it looks a lot like him."

Anonymous said...

Best commercial ever! Plus I'm a Joe green fan, I want a jersey.

George D. Canavos said...

❤️ Ya Just Don't Get Better Than That !!! ❤️

stef said...

This article was written in 2009 do the math

stef said...

This article was written in 2009 do the math

Anonymous said...

Great commercial one of my all time favourites just seen it again tonight definitely brings back good ol memories,Dennis Vanmeter

Anonymous said...

I went to school with him at Holy Trinity Grammar School in Whitestone, NY. I have been looking for his for years.