Back in 1988, things didn’t quite go to plan with a promotion for the Chuck Norris movie, Braddock: Missing In Action 3.
In the late 1980s, Chuck Norris was prolifically making the kind of action movies that the video rental store was invented for. With the Cannon Films logo on many of them, he hit a particular run of success with the Missing In Action series, where he portrayed Colonel James Braddock. Film one landed in 1984, and its first sequel in 1985.
We’d have to wait a few extra years for what became known as Braddock: Missing In Action III – he sandwiched the first The Delta Force movie, and his Karate Kommandos (sic) TV series in first – but it was ready for its rollout in 1988.
As per the norm, competitions were organised to promote the film, and Cannon Films organised one particular giveaway with the National Association Of Theater Owners (NATO, not that one) in particular is Milwaukee branch in the US. For this particular giveaway, Norris signed five posters for the film, that were to be given away in a raffle. NATO (not that one) duly booked an advert in the local paper, The Milwaukee Journal, and the competition began.
You can probably glean by the fact this article is being written some 30 years on that not everything went to plan. And, indeed, it didn’t.
For somewhere along the way, somebody misheard a word. And when the advert appeared, it wasn’t five signed posters that went into print. It was a signed toaster.
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As Premiere magazine reported back in June 1988, the advert actually read ‘register to win a toaster autographed by Chuck Norris’.
The mistake was spotted after the paper was printed, and work began on preparing a correction for the next issue. However, in those pre-internet, halcyon days, the competition had gone slightly viral. Over 1000 people had entered before there was a chance to put things right. And somebody at the Milwaukee NATO office (still not that one) had a phone call to make.
They duly rang up Cannon Films to explain the problem, and asked if Norris would mind signing a toaster instead. It seemed the most logical solution to the problem. A message was thus then relayed to Norris’ reps, and the answer came back: he’d be delighted to.
As such, a Proctor-Silex two-slice pop-up toaster was purchased for the princely sum of $14.95, and it was sent in the post to Los Angeles. There, Norris duly signed it with an engraving pen, leaving the message ‘Thanks Milwaukee!!’ on the side, and his pawprint.
The winner was a 25-year old by the name of Mona Henderson, and she, helpfully enough, didn’t have a toaster at this stage. That said, when she was united with her prize, she revealed she had no plans to use it. That Premiere article quoted her as saying , “it’s the first thing I’ve ever won. I’m going to buy it its own separate little table so I can display it. You can’t treat it just like any other toaster”.
Quite right, too. Whether she still keeps the toaster on a special table, all these decades later, is unknown. But she can proudly claim to be the owner of a unique piece of Chuck Norris merchandise.