Lucky Charms Leprechaun: 'I'm Not Irish'

First, I hear rumors about SpongeBob's sexuality. Now, I learn the truth about another Saturday morning TV legend: The Lucky Charms leprechaun is not Irish. Someone get my shillelagh!

Cynic that I am, I never should have trusted a mischievous little man in less-than-masculine attire who dances a merry jig and tells kids that he's on the run because "they're always after me Lucky Charms!"

Let us just pray that when he extolled Lucky Charms he wasn't referring to anything but a "magically delicious" frosted cereal. You can't even trust a leprechaun anymore.

Not that Arthur Anderson, the voice of Lucky the Leprechaun for 29 years, ever claimed to hail from the Emerald Isle. People just assumed.

"People have expectations," says Anderson, 83. "I just have an Irish-sounding name."

That chuckling Irish brogue -- one of the many voices Anderson honed on old-time radio shows such as the 1940s series "Let's Pretend" -- turned out to be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, providing a steady income for nearly 30 years.

Nobody asked for Anderson's nationality in 1963 when he auditioned, not even the president of General Mills. He was so perfect, it was either assumed he had a touch of the Blarney -- or it didn't matter.

Now, after six decades in show business, with credits in radio, TV and film, Anderson has good reason to pull on a green tie, like so many New Yorkers who head off to the St. Patrick's Day Parade. It's an annual event that draws more than a million spectators, many of whom, like Anderson, have no ethnic ties to Erin.

"I have reason to celebrate," Anderson says. "I had the luck of the Irish to get that part."

Being a TV leprechaun up until 1992 helped pull the actor through some lean years. After radio theater, he worked on stage and took small parts in episodes of "Law & Order" and such films as "I'm Not Rappaport" and "Green Card."

"I never got free cereal," he says. "But they gave me lots of green money. And it was a fun character to play. Hardly a day goes by when somebody doesn't ask me to sing the Lucky Charms jingle, and I'm proud of that."

These days, Anderson directs and performs with Friends of Old Time Radio, a group that revives classic audio broadcasts. At the group's convention in Newark, N.J., this October, it will perform "The Lone Ranger."

Perhaps Anderson best underscores a simple fact: Anyone can go green on St. Paddy's Day. There are about 37 million people of Irish descent in the United States, and yet the National Retail Federation estimates that 111 million celebrate the holiday. Some will go green for the day simply by wearing shamrock-shaded clothing to work.

But the retail group also estimates that more than 19 million revelers will head off to bars and restaurants, a number that suggests St. Paddy's Day is an all-inclusive celebration.

In another example of overzealous multiculturalism, Bruegger's bakeries are offering green bagels all across the country.

If you're looking for a nontraditional St. Patrick's Day experience, here are a few suggestions:

1. Adopt an Irish Ghost
Having trouble getting into the spirit of St. Patrick's Day? Perhaps all you need is to open your home to an Irish ghost -- and, luckily, they're for sale.

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