Much like “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”, “I’m not a _________, but I play one on TV” became a catchphrase that outshone the original product it was designed to promote. Sure, most of us remember hearing the “I’m not a doctor” line, but how many of us remember who the actor was who played said physician, or even what the heck it was he was selling?
The original commercial first aired in 1984, and it was hawking Vicks Formula 44 cough syrup. The actor in question was Chris Robinson, who portrayed Dr. Rick Webber on the daytime drama General Hospital from 1978 until 1986. The ad campaign was successful enough that the Vicks execs re-cast it in 1986 (with All My Children’s Peter Bergman, aka Dr. Cliff Warner) after Robinson was convicted of income tax evasion in 1985.