Carlo Sommer and the Crusade of Love

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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 lo

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April 19, 1955

cal 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.

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Ad of Nov. 6, 1961

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.

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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.

29 Comments

  1. Dave

    Carlo F. Sommer had a book called, “Carloism, The Better Life Principles”. I have not seen it but I have a pamphlet with a number of quotes from it printed by a man named Bill Naugle in 1976. I remember hearing Sommer on TV with his Hello Loves commercial. I remember seeing a bumper sticker in 1968 or a little later reading: Love, Joy, Peace, Be a Carloite

  2. Jesse

    Thanks for this! I have had the beginning of the ‘Hello Loves’ commercial revisit me too often in the last 10 years. I also wonder what it was about. I was also searching for the wrong name (Summers), so glad I found this to at least give me some background to a bizarre childhood memory.

  3. E. Mislan

    I remember my Mom telling me that a lot of Carlos Sommer’s followers were wealthy widows. Kind of makes sense. I will never forget those commercials. Neither will my husband who also grew up in Toledo. Glad to know we aren’t the only ones stuck with this in our heads!

    • Your mother was incorrect. No wealthy widows. There were severl of us that started out poor in spirit, but didn’t stay that way for long. There is so much to say, but there is not enough room on this page to tell. Let me ask you this: Are you where you want to be in life, or are you where others expect you to be? Do you know where you are going? Do you know where you have been and why you were there? Are you at peace. Are you content with the life you are living, or do you think there must be more?

      I am glad you still remember the “commercial”, but it is not all there was and is.

  4. Mike Thomsen

    Thanks for bringing back this classic memory.

    I’ll never forget those commercials. WTVG was (and still is) my mom’s favorite local channel, (despite the fact that it’s the only 1 of the 4 local news outfits I HAVEN’T worked for), and TVG seemed to run this spot in every break.

    I always loved how serious Carlo got when rattling off the list of people I should act in “friendly ways to”, especially friends and ASSOCIATES..

    I still refer to some of my best friends as ASSOCIATES because of those commercials.

    Great site!!

  5. Don't forget the Falcons

    We had Carlo(s) in BG too. When I was a kid, pre-cablevision I think, his commercial would be on any time of day. Then, later, when TV got expensive, he moved to the Signal On/Off timeslot. We mocked it at first, as kids do, but later we thought him brilliant. Still do.

    All you need is love in fact!

    ANyway, if I never hear another Kistler’s Whistlers jungle it will be too soon.

    How about “Downtown and Cricket West.”

    Or the day Jim Tichy scratched his ass on live tv because he thought they went to break.
    Or Jerry Anderson’s black contact lenses in the 1990’s.

    Go Mud Hens!

  6. I always get a chuckle out of people who always want to know the backround of someone that is brilliant. What difference does it make? His TV ad was a very small part of what he was about. I do not remember seeing him when I was 7 but he saw me. His shop was right next to a popular movie theater in downtown Toledo. When I finally met him in 1975, it was like I had known him all my life. I stayed with him and I am still.

    I have love for myself, and all other human beings in my heart, where in will remain actively ingaged in bringing peace, harmony, love, happiness and prosperity into the life of every man, woman and child now alive on earth.

    And, there is so very much more.

  7. Eric Studer

    I think the Crusade of Love piece needs to be remembered in the context of the time it existed. Not too long before this point the country was de-industrializing at an alarming rate, racial tensions were very high, the economy for most people in Toledo was horrid, and there needed to be a regular, calm voice to remind people to be nice to each other. Freaky stuff was happening in the late 70s and early 80s – Jonestown, presidential assassination attempts, domestic terrorism, etc. I think Carlo worked his hypnotic powers on all of us, and the TV stations were down with it. If they were not, I cannot see how the guy scraped together the dough to keep that rolling for as long and as regularly as he did.

  8. Georgann H.

    I was a Carlolite for many years. The Crusade of Love is still around although there are very few members left. Like most things in life there was good and bad within the organization. Before Carlo became ill he was quite convincing and charming. He could also scare the hell out of you. Carlo was well read and borrowed from many other religions and beliefs. He put his own twist to things and convinced people that he was the true path to the Father within. In the end he couldn’t live up to his claims. But if you talk to a Carlolite they are good at making excuses and explaining it all away. It is quite amusing yet sad in a way that those still hanging on can’t see the truth.
    And Pat T. I had to laugh at your postings. You know I know you and you are so full of shit. Please don’t act like you have gained so much from Carlo’s teachings. I know how you live. Especially $$$ wise. The only person that ever became wealthy was Carolyn. And you know it!
    Yes Carlo was a fascinating charismatic man but, he was not all that he claimed to be.

  9. Bill F

    Did he have the old First Christian Science Church at 2705 Monroe and Lawrence for a while? It has since been renovated with an addition. At the time of the Crusade of Love it was in need of major repairs. It had been purchased by the Universal Community Church in December of 1968. In August of 1984 State Home savings of Bowling Green Ohio had apparently foreclosed and taken title.

  10. Name *

    Carl Sommers or Dr. Carlo, as I knew him, was a magician
    In the 50’s. My dad booked his shows all over
    the country. I don’t remember the names of his
    daughter, her husband or their son’s, but his
    wife’s name was Lady. Dr. Carlo gave me my
    first dog, a Boxer puppy, named Monte Carlo.
    Years after my dad worked with him he sent us
    a 45 rpm of him speaking and one was supposed to
    become hypnotized by listening to the recording.
    My grade school friends and I would listen and feign
    a state of hypnosis. Fun memories. I know nothing
    about his later following except that my dad was
    contacted by a woman who,was writing a book
    about Carlo, sometime in the late 90’s.

  11. Tony S

    Carlo was my great uncle and this is very interesting to read about him. His brother, Gene just passed away last April and he was the last of his living brothers. Thanks for the kind words

  12. Kelly Y

    Georgann, really, is it necessary to try to denigrate Pat? You truly did not get Carlo’s teachings or you would know better. Carol taught us to love and respect each other. If Pat T wants to remember things in this light let her. Carolyn DID NOT get wealthy, and even if she did, she earned it. Carlo was a hard task master and she dealt with him every day, as did Tish, Bill, and anyone who lived in the apartment building. You are right, he was scary, because he asked you to look at the truth of things, most especially what was inside of yourself. He challenged us to live life on life’s terms but making the hard choices to see ourselves as we were, to accept where we were, and then if we wanted to change it, to do so and not just talk about it. He said if we wanted something, that was bull, because if we did we would have it already. What is this so called truth you are speaking of? The truth is, we are what we are because we have chosen to be that way, period. If we can decide to watch our thoughts, change them, challenge them, then we can be what we say we want. We have what we want based on our daily thoughts and our recognition of them. Most people sleep their days away, blissfully ignorant to the fact that they control every aspect of their lives. He also taught us self-responsibility, something most people do not ever want to accept. Most people want to thank a higher power for the good and blame the bad stuff on the devil, never accepting that all along they were the ones responsible the whole time for all of it. Enough of the soap box. Just do not criticize when you have nothing to be proud of yourself. Love you.

  13. Justin H

    This is awesome, thanks for the research and stirring up the pot about a Toledo enigma. It’s always so great to hear things about Toledoans. As a child I had no concept of the difference between local and national tv, so of course my only world was that of whatever tv I watched. And Dr. Carlo was part of the entire world for me then. How neat to find out the reality behind our little corner of it and what he did with his portion. Cheers to all…. “Loves.”

  14. Wow, fascinating! I stumbled on to this post when I got online to do some research about Carlo’s early years as a magician. I’ve been reading Ram Dass’s Be Love Now, and Carlo’s influence on my early life has re-occured to me lately. My name is Carla Orvis Hunt, and I was raised around Carlo; my mom brought me to meetings, I spoke often with him on the phone through my teenage years (I was a talker even then:~), and I recently (last year or so, when I was home visiting my mom) read his book LOVE for the first time since I was an adult. I thought to myself, you know, this is all true. People thought he was so strange then; now people are paying so much money for counseling, meditation, yoga, cleanses…. it’s funny. ~~ It’s interesting to see how the post above morphed as people spoke. It kind of reminds me of the various characters / Carlolites I grew up around – some curious, some abundantly joyful, some in need of love and lashing out. ~ What I’d like to add is that, as a little girl (and I saw Carlo weekly from the time I was born until I was about 12), Carlo didn’t scare me at all. He simply loved me; he was like a smart papa bear, only growling if you were in danger. I knew it like I knew nothing else. Yeah, there were some weird moments with drama among his students / devotees, but Carlo himself was never weird. Unless, of course, you consider preaching such an eccentric idea as love weird, or spending money on commercials that – imagine that – generations remember weird. Which, as a matter of fact, when I was about 12, I did think it was weird; I surrendered to peer and family pressure, and anger that my mom would give him money when we didn’t have much, and refused to go to meetings. Looking back now, I realize that didn’t matter, that I stopped going I mean. I would say he still loved me, but the truth is that it’s not so much that he loved me, as that he was immensely loving and, when I asked, directed his guidance toward me. … Now, a professor of writing and a writer, and a soul who believes that we are love, in my thirties, I find myself thankful for those early years. I am his namesake, and he was also immensely helpful to me, as I grew up in in a some-ways tough situation. I don’t remember meeting much of his actual family, I”m sorry to say, but I send my greetings to them. Should anyone want to get in touch with me (though I’m not sure I can answer many questions about Carloism other than what I saw and heard) to say hello or whatnot, I can be reached at carlaorvishunt@gmail.com. ~

  15. Pingback: Dr. Carlo Sommer and his Cavalcade of Mystery | Toledo History Box – 20th century Toledo as seen through the eyes of the Toledo Blade and News-Bee

  16. We are cleaning out a home of a deceased follower of Carlo Sommer. Home to be demolished in a month or so. We have found pictures, pamphlets, copies of checks written, etc…. to the Crusade of Love for all Mankind.
    Glad to find this article as we had no idea who this person was.

    Thank you

  17. Cheryl Weisz

    My Father went to see Dr. Carlo every Wed for years. We lived in a small town nearby and Father would drive up to Toledo, spend an hour with Carlo Sommer and drive home. I was 8 years old when I met Dr. Carlo for the first time and the last time. Many, many years later I found out my mother refused to go back to see him and explained to me that the reason she would not go again was because Dr. Carlo approached her in a “non-professional manner” when she was seeing him alone after Father and I had our hour with him. Sommers hit on my Mother. She was disgusted. She would not let me go again either. That one visit, I can remember an outer waiting room, then my Father and I went in and Dr. Carlo put me on a reclining bench in the back of the room and put headphones on me. I remember drifting off to sleep while my Father and Dr. Carlo talked across a big desk on the opposite side of the long room. Dr. Carlo was saying that he and a friend had been using the power of the mind to keep welts from rising on his skin as they used whips on each other to test the power of their positive thoughts. I woke up in my Father’s arms out in the waiting room and my Mother was dashing out the door. We got in the car and I knew something was wrong because it was very tense and quiet on the ride home. My Father continued to see Dr. Carlo for a few more years. I remember listening to tapes with my Father in his den that he had purchased from Dr. Carlo. His voice always put me right to sleep. That’s all I can tell you. It’s interesting to read everyone’s contributions here. Thanks to all who wrote. It’s an education.

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