#RespectYourElders: Jonathan Goldsmith, 81, is an American actor and known by many for his role in the Dos Equis beer ad campaign as “the most interesting man in the world.”
Goldsmith was born in New York, New York in 1938 to a model and a gym teacher. He is of Russian-Jewish descent. Goldsmith graduated from Boston University in 1958 and eventually moved to California for his acting career.
“The most interesting man in the world” started off working as a garbage truck driver in Los Angeles to make ends meet. Goldsmith appeared in hundreds of TV shows and films including many Westerns, such as The Shootist with John Wayne. He says he was often typecast as a villain, even though he wanted to do comedies. After three decades, Goldsmith left the movie and TV industry to start a business career.
Goldsmith made a fortune in network marketing and retired at an early age. He bought a home in the Sierra mountains and expected to spend the rest of his life fishing. After a massive lawsuit against his business, Goldsmith lost much of that fortune and decided to make a return to acting.
Goldsmith caught wind of a chance to star in a new campaign for Dos Equis, a Mexican-brewed lager. On audition day, he showed up to see a room full of 500 people, most of whom were half his age and Latino, all hoping to win the role. To win the part, he needed to perform a monologue ending with the phrase, “And that’s how I arm wrestled Fidel Castro.” Goldsmith improvised a 30-minute speech, which began with him removing a sock and adopting the persona of a man he sailed the world with, the late Argentine-born actor Fernando Lamas.
One month later, the Dos Equis team reached out to Goldsmith’s agent, who would later become his wife, and said they liked Goldsmith, but felt he was too old. Her reply, “how can the most interesting man in the world possibly be only thirty years old?” got him the job.
Goldsmith spent nine years as the beloved face of Dos Equis. The man who could, fictionally, “parallel park a train,” and “speak French… in Russian.” In 2016, Dos Equis moved on to another face for the brand, actor Augustin Legrand, but sidelined the character in 2018 following sluggish sales.
Goldsmith now stays busy in a number of other ways. He wrote a biography about his life titled, “Stay Interesting: I Don’t Always Tell Stories About My Life, but When I Do They’re True and Amazing.” He also spent time teaching art and theatre in the California prison system, shooting a public awareness commercial for the Make-a-Wish Foundation in Vermont, and working with Clear Path International, a nonprofit that assists civilian victims of war.
“Because I have this high public recognition, I’m thrilled I can call attention to things and I have a platform,” Goldsmith said in an interview.