For the full experience, click the audio player and stare at the TV.
This commercial ran for many years on Toledo television, starting anywhere from the early to mid-80s, often late at night, when the ad rates were low. Everyone I knew saw it and thought, as I did, “what the heck was that all about?” It looked just like that. Thirty seconds of his face, and that message. No mailing address, no street address, no phone number.
And there you were, left to ponder that message. After seeing it for several years, we could all repeat it verbatim. I remember it as well as I remember Perry Chair (as played by local radio icon Bob Kelly).
I came across the sound file and picture on the Internet several years ago (can’t remember where) and rediscovered it while backing up some ancient computer files. People I shared it with had their memory jogged, but knew nothing more. It occurred to me that the vast microfilm archive of The Blade, now online for free, might be useful to find out. “His obituary must have appeared at some point,” I thought to myself.
But there was nothing. I found this useful Facebook page, with the same sound file and picture I had, but I was almost certain (for some unknown reason) they didn’t have the name right.
So using Google and The Blade’s microfilm, I was able to check every different variation I could think of. I didn’t think it was Carlos Summer. Someone else remembered it as Carlo Summers, but a little digging ultimately brought to light the man’s real name: Carlo Francis Sommer.
As it turns out, Carlo Sommer, also known as Dr. Carlo, was a pretty well-known magician and hypnotist, and not just in Toledo. According to this “broken wand” (obit for magicians) page at toledomagic.com:
For more than a quarter century Carlo was one of the nation’s foremost theater magicians and hypnotists. He founded the Institute of Hypnosis at 3136 Sylvania Avenue, Toledo 13, Ohio. And, in 1960 published a small booklet titled Hypnotize Yourself. He operated Carlo’s Magic Shop on 436 Superior Street, Toledo, Ohio. He appears to be one of the founders of MDA – Magic Dealer’s Association. He invented the rubber dove, Balls of Fire (production of fire from a paper sack), and the Carlo Glass Production. Later he turned to promoting his Carlolites and his Campaign of Love (“Hello Loves”) while often denying that he was ever a magician much less owned a magic shop!
Emphasis mine. And indeed, evidence in The Blade archives seems to bear this out. Mitch Woodbury, who wrote the local entertainment scene column I’ve Heard, even mentions local performances by Dr. Carlo. I e-mailed the person who created the broken wand page and he confirmed that yes, he was the same person.
The Social Security Death Index backs it all up with the following: Carlo F. Sommer. Born August 1, 1909, died Nov, 6, 1996 in Toledo, Ohio, at age 87.
Unfortunately, The Blade’s microfilm for the day after Sommer’s death, Nov. 7, 1996, is missing. A check of the days after his death did not reveal an obituary. A check of the Toledo Lucas-County Public Library’s obituary index did not list an obituary. I searched for all manner of people named Sommer in the 80s and 90s. I found many, including an obit for Frederic Alex Sommer which listed “Speedy Gonzales” as a survivor.
But alas, no obituary for Carlo Sommer, founder of the Crusade of Love for allllll of mankind. Maybe there just wasn’t one.
That’s too bad, because finding out even this little bit raises more questions than it answers. What was the Crusade of Love? Did it have a building? What did it do? There are several references to people involved in the Crusade of Love in The Blade’s obituaries, but nothing else otherwise.
The folks over on Facebook ask good questions, too: Was this broadcast anywhere else? What was his motive?
Throughout this post, I’ve tried to avoid making this whole thing sound ridiculous because I can’t help but feel his intentions were probably good. After all, being friendly with everyone isn’t such a bad idea and even today, it’s a positive message and a noble goal. I feel like I’m a pretty friendly person today (though I don’t think I can credit the Crusade of Love).
If that was your purpose, Carlo, more than a few Toledoans remember you.
I don’t go begging for comments, because about three people read this and two are my parents. Thinking up topics, researching and then writing my hometown’s history is fun and thought-provoking. But can you shed any light on the Crusade of Love?
While you think about it, you can read about Dr. Carlo’s road show here.