Jonathan Goldsmith isn’t done being the most interesting man in the world. While the internet feverishly reacted to Dos Equis’ new, official, “Most Interesting Man in the World,” Goldsmith, who held the role from 2006 to 2016, was in California playing chess with Manny Pacquiao. For two hours.
Goldsmith, who will be 78 at the end of September, and Dos Equis went their separate ways in March. Goldsmith was the face of some of the most defining, meme-generating commercials of the 21st century, but Dos Equis wanted a fresher face to attract younger drinkers, The New York Times reports. So it sent Goldsmith off with a one-way ticket to Mars in his last Dos Equis commercial, in which he leaves planet Earth with the immortal words, “Stay thirsty, my friends.”
Now his adventures can really begin. Goldsmith’s new role is as the editor emeritus of a start-up online publication called True.Ink. Its founder, author and journalist Geoffrey Gray, modeled True.Ink on a men’s magazine called True that was published from 1937 to 1974 (that Goldsmith says he read). The original magazine featured essays on manhood from people like Ernest Hemingway and Winston Churchill. Its new online iteration, Gray tells me over the phone, focuses on real life experiences and bringing readers into the story — literally. For example, a story about horse racing told through a crowdsourced racehorse that readers can interact with.
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Goldsmith’s role as editor emeritus is to write poetry as well as a column for a series called “True Mastery.” Along with the written word, Goldsmith has a hand in, and stars in, short-form poetry videos for the site. His column is how he wound up with Pacquiao while his younger Dos Equis replacement took his place as the new Most Interesting Man. But just because Goldsmith doesn’t have a branded title doesn’t mean he’s done living the lifestyle that vaulted him to fame.
“I’m really looking forward to many other interesting stories,” Goldsmith tells me over the phone. He was with his four grandchildren, who normally live in China with their parents, at his home in Vermont. “I’ll be traveling all over the world interviewing people and interacting with people, where I couldn’t do that before,” he says. “It was a one-way situation, but now I can include people in the adventures.”
Writing comes naturally to Goldsmith, although acting is how he made a living — after, of course, he made a living driving a garbage truck while looking for acting roles. He was cast in more than 350 television episodes from the 1960s to the early 2000s in shows like “Gunsmoke,” “Knight Rider,” “MacGyver,” and “Hawaii Five-O.” He also played the villain in a number of westerns opposite stars like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.
Despite working in various roles in TV and film, it was the Dos Equis commercials that made Goldsmith, a Russian Jew from New York, immediately recognizable as a silver-haired adventurer with a Latino accent.
That fame has led to adventures that are nearly impossible to fact-check. Still, the confirmed stories give credence to the unconfirmed. For example, he was the surprise guest at President Obama’s birthday at Camp David in 2013. He once saved a hiker from freezing to death, and he pulled a drowning girl to safety.
Goldsmith also mentioned a friend who hitchhiked around the world, another friend who was a chef aboard a pirate smuggling ship in South America, and an uncle who became the vice president of a railroad company in Brazil before retiring and earning his high school diploma at 72 years old. All of this, however, I was unable to confirm, so we have to take The Most Interesting Man at his word.
Amid all of Goldsmith’s adventures, there has always been writing. He met Gray through a mutual acquaintance who was helping Goldsmith with a yet-to-be-announced book, and they came up with True.Ink’s “True Mastery” series. The series will allow Goldsmith to travel, cement his legacy, and check off the remaining items on his bucket list as he shares how to live life to the fullest.
“To me, life is like a parade,” he says. “Most people seem to watch it go by, and live vicariously through others, and some get in and participate in the journey.”
He can’t be a brand ambassador for any alcoholic beverage per a Dos Equis contract, but that doesn’t mean alcohol won’t play a role in his stories and his life. Potential topics he could write about include how to pair food and wine and how to cook with alcohol. Alcohol, in moderation, plays a role in Goldsmith’s lifestyle. Every night in the spring, summer and fall, Goldsmith has a martini and a glass of wine. In the winter, he drinks a good Scotch, bourbon or rye — one of his favorites is Vermont’s WhistlePig — but he isn’t one to turn down a good tequila, either.
“It’s a fun-spirited challenge being with him every day,” Gray says. “When we work together in Vermont, he wakes me up at 6 in the morning to go swim in the pond. Then its hiking with the dogs, followed by fishing, barbecue, and cocktail hour.”
It’s not unusual, Gray says, to recognize during business meetings over the phone that Goldsmith is grilling lobster with a cigar in his mouth.
“What we’ve already seen so far is he’s got another side to him, and the truth is more interesting than the manufactured version,” Gray says. True.Ink members will even be able to interact with Goldsmith personally through adventure trips to Vermont. And readers of his column will learn how to become an interesting person — in short, he suggests “you have to experience things, and you’ve got to bust loose and participate,” and, be a voracious reader.
Perhaps one of his columns should be about how to pause time.
Along with the four grandchildren Goldsmith was with as he spoke to me on the phone, he has five children, six more grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. It’s quite a family but, as Goldsmith explains, “everybody needs a hobby, Nick.”
I never found out if Goldsmith was able to best one of the greatest boxers of the present era (and a sitting senator in the Philippines) at chess. In the end, does it even really matter who won? Goldsmith, the person who embodied the character of Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man, has surpassed his role. The truly interesting part is yet to come.