Longtime Atlantans will remember Guy Sharpe, the courtly, silver-maned weatherman who stayed on the air for decades. You may also recall that he was a religious fanatic (and Amway salesman) who spread a very nutty rumor about Proctor & Gamble. According to Guy, the company’s trademark symbolized an allegiance to Satan, to whom P&G tithed 10 percent of its earnings.
It was a major suburban legend in the 1980s, swallowed by people who today would be questioning Barack Obama’s birth certificate. Witness this excerpt from a 1982 edition of 20/20:
Fox (voice over): None of these Southern California women are religious fundamentalists. But all were troubled by the rumor. (to women) What makes you uncomfortable?
1st woman: The thought of Satan being behind it.
2nd woman: I knew that I was going to use Cascade soap for my dishwasher before I ever got a dishwasher. I knew that I was going to use Pampers before I had kids. It’s incredible now it has affected my mind — and I never thought of using anything but Tide.
Fox: And you wonder what, whether there was some sort of mysterious draw to the products, is that it?
2nd woman: Yes, exactly.
I can relate. I always knew I’d be watching Guy Sharpe forecast the weather. I was convinced. Without sampling his competition. It was like he had affected my mind — and I never thought of anything but watching Guy Sharpe.
P&G eventually sued Guy, who settled out of court and publicly recanted. Somehow, he kept his job.