There's a second echelon of actors and actresses on television. Their faces are as familiar as the stars'. But to the viewers they have no names. They're the ones who do the omnipresent commercials.
No. 1 on that list in Washington is the Ourisman Chevrolet girl. She's often been called Washington's No. 1 sex symbol, but she's rarely been called Susan Gailey, although that's her name.
There are many such household faces. One of the most famous in recent years is Jim Varney, the guy with the buddy named Vern, who does his fun-sell for Tyson's Toyota and scores of other clients across the country. He's possibly the top local and regional TV commercial performer around these days.
Over the years there have been many hot commericial properties, but after a few years or so, like actors and hit shows, poof, they're gone.
But some have endured in the Washington marketplace. And few have endured as endearingly as Susan Gailey of Ourisman fame. The face that has launched acres and acres of Chevrolets has been promising viewers "You'll get your way" for 17 years.
Other such faces include Don Richards (Rosenthal), Bob Peck (Peck's Chevrolet) and Bill Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald has been in scores of bank, clothing and other ads and in movies for almost 40 years. He made one of the very first TV commercials filmed in this area.
Richards too is a veteran. He's been involved in TV ads for more than 30 years and has been doing Rosenthal commercials for 15 years.
Yet, the only name in this group that viewers know is Peck's and that's because he owns the place he pitches. Peck made his first commercial more than 18 years ago.
All of them have lasted longer than the vast majority of performers in entertainment series. On the street, on a plane, even in Paris they're recognized.
That's where Susan Gailey was, walking along the Left Bank with her daughter and a friend, when another tourist walked up and said, "Hi, you're the Ourisman girl."
Gailey said she rarely takes a flight from Los Angeles to Washington or Baltimore that someone on the plane doesn't recognize her as "our Ourisman girl."
The most famous face to emerge from York, Pa., now lives in California and has re-married -- again. Gailey, once referred to in The Washington Post as a ">'50s Dream Girl" who became a sex symbol in her 30s, admits that today, at 46, she's a "grandmother of the '80s."
In a profession where ad agencies are constantly switching to fresh talent and new young faces, Gailey still manages to hold her own. "For one," she said, "I'm married to a nutritional doctor, I have a lot of good health habits and good genes." She also feels that her TV longevity is due to the fact that she's "in the right age range, or looks to be the right age range. And, I have a good rapport with men and women and children. My personality is not theatening. I'm real happy about that."
Her older daughter is now 29, has a two- year-old daughter, Lacey, and lives on a farm near York. Her younger daughter is 22, has a three-year-old son and lives in the Tidewater area of Virginia.
On a recent visit east, which included doing some filming for an auto-dealer account in Newport, Va., she agreed to a picture session at her daughter's farm. Holding, walking and playing with her grandaughter, she did all the things grandmothers do when visiting little ones. On the second day of her visit she was asked whether she would spoil Lacey. She replied, "I already did that yesterday."
Although Gailey's captivating face and smile continue to be displayed on TV screens regularly over the years, she has not been an item in the local media since the early 1970s. At that time she was married to Pennsylvania lawyer and politician Jack Gailey.
When they seperated in 1972, she went to New York, where her stage credits included a play with Shelley Berman.
That was about the time she was also kicked in the face by a horse, an unpleasant experience for anyone, especially a model. "Fortunately my teeth were capped when I was younger. So, although some caps were crushed, all I really suffered was a swollen mouth for a while. The caps were easily replaced."
She also did some national commercials for Jello, Ore-Ida, Mrs. Good Cookie (she giggles at the recollection) and Kal Kan. "I won a Clio for the Jello ad." She also did some ads for the Chicago area Chevrolet dealers and still does some for a Nissan dealer in El Paso, Tex.
After about a year in New York she returned to York and lived with Gailey "for a few years," although they did not re- marry, as gossip items had it at the time. When that ran its course she set out for California, hoping to get more work in drama. She netted a few TV series guest shots, one in "Starsky and Hutch" and another in "Police Woman," but as the commercial side of her career increased she decided to let her drama hopes "slide."
Two and one-half years ago when she married in California it was her fourth, not her fifth marriage, as had been reported, she noted, stopping to enumerate them aloud.
Her first marriage came when she was 16. "He was French and exotic and drove a red convertible. He was no one special. I mean, he wasn't a football hero or anything." Her first daughter was born of that marriage; it ended after two years.
He second marriage was to a National Motor Club executive. It also lasted two years and produced her second daughter.
Then she married Gailey, a prominent York lawyer who served 12 terms as a representive to the state legislature.
Now she is married to Vietnamese Dr. An Thanh, "a nutritional doctor to the stars and politicians. He has some patients in Washngton. He was my doctor for about three years and then we started to date. He has some patients in Washington.
"It was a beautiful wedding," she said. "It was one day I had my way. I wore white, my two daughters were maids of honor. Ted Danson was one of four best men. It was outdoors at the home of a friend, a lovely evening with a view of the San Fernando Valley."
Now she lives in posh Woodland Hills on the western vista of the same valley. The Ourisman girl, who once joined a rodeo that went broke and left her stranded in Georgia with a young child, worked as a shoe salesperson, a dental assistant and a clothing salesperson, in addition to doing theater in York and Baltimore, has now stepped out on yet a new career.
She earned a real estate license last month and in short order was able to report her first sale and her first listing with an enthusiasitc "How about that?"
She's doubly proud because she did it without the TV recognition factor that exists in Washington.
A while back when she went to lunch at Duke Zeibert's restaurant she caused quite a stir. Celebrities were coming to her table, asking for her autograph and gawking.
After lunch folks on the street and construction workers high up on steel beams gave her nods, smiles and whistles. She enjoyed it and said, "You know what's really an ego trip? "When someone you think is famous thinks you're famous.
"I still feel that way but out here I don't have that recognition factor to deal with on the streets and in restaurants," said Woodland Hills' newest real estate agent. "That's real healthy for me."