Vancouver Celebrity: Little Old Lady from Frank’s RedHot Sauce Ads

Image credit: Frank’s RedHot Sauce

If you’re a fan of Frank’s RedHot Sauce (and maybe even if you’re not), chances are you’ve seen the commercials featuring the charming, little old lady.

Wearing thick glasses, pearls and other classic little old lady accessories, she turns to the camera and calmly says, “Frank’s RedHot Sauce – I put that s— on everything.”

The quirky ads have developed a cult following, with more than half a million views on YouTube.  And among hot sauce lovers, the little old lady character – who goes by the name of Ethel Herman in the commercials – is much known and loved.

Well, it turns out that the sassy star lives right here in North Vancouver.  Her real name is Jean Hamilton and she’s 89 years old, according to a great profile by Pete McMartin in the Vancouver Sun.

She was discovered in a local knitting shop, when a talent scout for Frank’s ad agency came in looking for little old ladies with attitude.  Jean was a frequent customer of the shop, where she’d stock up on supplies for her home knitting business.

After a successful audition for the character of Ethel Herman, Jean’s career suddenly took a striking new direction.

She flew  to New York for a photo shoot and then onto London to do the first of five commercials.  It was there that she first delivered the immortal line that she’s become known for: “I put that s—t on everything.”  In the commercials, of course, the profanity is bleeped out.  But Jean admits she actually had to say the offending word during the shoots, McMartin reports.

Over the years, Jean has delivered her signature line in a variety of hilarious settings.  In one commercial, the Queen asks her the secret behind her cucumber sandwiches.  In another, a priest at a bake sale asks her the secret behind her lemon squares.  In perhaps the most memorable ad, an elderly man at a retirement home – in the midst of what looks like a geriatric rave with walkers and canes flying – asks her what she put in the punch.

Who knew Vancouver had such a saucy star?

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