Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...
Need a new car? How about an Isuzu with "gin-u-wine" llama-skin leather and a top speed of 300 mph for only $9 (marbles and seashells accepted if you are short on cash). Impossible? Yep. But just such a deal was offered by smarmy car salesman Joe Isuzu, played by David Leisure in the late '80s. Now he's back in a new campaign, but this time lyin' Joe is jobless, disheveled and has a few spare tires of his own, thanks to a padded suit. "I hope it's a good idea," says Leisure of reprising the role that put Isuzu on the map. "I was ready to put it to bed forever."
Leisure, 50, who lives in L.A. with his wife, Patty Bunch, a makeup artist, was an instant hit when the ads first aired in 1986. He later landed the role of Charley Dietz, the mooching neighbor on NBC's Empty Nest. "There wasn't a lot of difference between the old Joe Isuzu and Charley," says Leisure, who made his big-screen debut as a Hare Krishna in the comedy Airplane! Now, no matter what other roles he might get, Leisure is sure he'll always be known as the obnoxious pitchman. "Someone said to me, 'Isn't it a coincidence that you have the same name as Joe Isuzu?' " He adds, "It's just bizarre."