Sam, a golden retriever that did a star turn playing the talking dog Duke in Bush’s Baked Beans TV commercials, has died, according to social media posts.
David Odom, who identified himself as a friend of Sam’s owner in Apopka, Florida, posted on Facebook last week that Sam had been suffering from cancer and had been euthanized. “He was a very special dog to all who ever knew or had the pleasure of meeting him,” Odom wrote.
After the news went viral on social media, Bush’s Baked Beans confirmed it with a post on Facebook saying, “While Sam has not worked with us in years, we are saddened by the news of his passing and are grateful to have had him depict Duke.”
The commercials, which have featured a number of dogs portraying Duke, began running in the 1990s, with Jay Bush, the company founder’s great-grandson, saying that the only other living thing that knew the secret recipe for the baked beans was his dog, Duke, and that Duke wouldn’t talk. Then (through the magic of special effects) the dog speaks.
The commercials are credited with helping the company gain 80 percent of market share, according to Fortune magazine.