Mr. Ofstie may have sold you a car!

He was born Burton Adolph Ofstie on January 30, 1911 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of Rev. Hans Adolf Ofstie (1881-1977) a Methodist pastor and Lena Peterson (1889 –1981) 

We knew him well by his trademark “Linn Burton for Certain”and his very plaid suits.  

He is still remembered for his commercials for Bert Weinman Ford.” Chicago’s number 1 Ford dealer”. He was “Your TV Ford Man” selling cars for over 25 years between 1964 and 1989 on WGN-TV in Chicago. Linn Burton had a great radio voice and personality.  Hewould urge us viewers to “Buy now and save” at  “3535 North on Ashland Avenue”.

Many people didn’t know that he was only a spokesman and never a salesman for Bert Weinman Ford. In fact, it was not uncommon for a prospective car buyer to come into the dealership and ask for Linn Burton! He actually did his work in the WGN TV studio with a specially revolving floor where the cars slowly turned under the bright lights..His commercials were incredibly effective. In addition to that great voice, he had believability. He wasn’t slick or crafty. It was just Linn simply selling cars. And he was just really good at it!


When he would say “Twenty four eighty-eight – delivered” people believed him and bought. “Save as never before!” he would tell us in 2 to 3 minute commercials.. An advertising executive was quoted as saying “He had a certain type of voice you would listen to, but you didn’t always love it, but you listened.” Once selling for Bert Weinman Ford, their sales tripled putting the dealership on the map.. They went from selling about 80 cars a month to about 300 mostly because of Burton’s commercials. He was certainly one of the last of great old-time pitchmen. He once described his own hard sell pitch style as “zip, zap, hit-’em-on-the-head”. His success that lasted for at least 40 years

in 1937 Linn Burton was writing copy for the Chicago ad agency when a radio station discovered his great radio voice.

After a few announcing missteps, he was hired by a small West Side radio station. When it moved downtown and changed its name to WAIT, their announcer Burton Adolph Ofstie changed his name to Linn Burton. He chose Burton because it was the middle name of his younger brother who was crippled by polio and later died. In the 1940s, he worked as a free-lance announcer, disc jockey and interviewer, becoming a well-known local broadcast personality. At one point in the 1940s, he was hosting 85 separate 15-minute radio programs a week dominating the airwaves.

During these earlier years he sold everything from carpeting to washing machines. Mr. Burton developed his hard-sell approach in the 1950s while ad-libbing 18-minute TV commercials for Polk Bros as early as 1949. He also did commercials for L Fish furniture, APCOA car painting, Curtis candy, Holland jewelers, Aronson furniture, Marlboro cigarettes, and Amana appliances. I

n the early days of television he hosted a morning television show at WBKB the predecessor of WBBM TV. It was a women’s audience participation show called “The Second Cup”.

Also in the 1950s that Mr. Burton opened his first restaurant – Linn Burton’s Steak House at 744 North Rush Street.- the first of four. In 1978 he was the co-owner of the New Hickory Smoked Barbecue Rib restaurant at 5840 W. Ogden in Cicero. He was also the co-owner of Ribs and Bits on the South Side.

And then in 1964 when he became the car salesman, putting Bert Weinman Ford over the top in sales. And Linn Burton became recognizable to generations of TV viewers, including many of you.

He once said “Truthfully, the hard sell has been good to me, but it’s hurt, too. I’m so solidly identified with that pitch that people don’t know about my soft sell. I’d like to do that.”

Watch one of his great commercials on YouTube:

Linn Burton died in Hinsdale on October 17, 1995 at age 84, leaving his wife, Ruth; a son, and a sister, His funeral was on October 20, 1995 and was then buried in Bronswood Cemetery, 3805 Madison, Oak Brook. His wife ruth died feb 14 2000.

His stone reads:

And the angels sing His grace, the wind beneath the wing

and for another chicago legend click

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