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The Interesting True Story of 'The Most Interesting Man in the World'

by Raphael Chestang 5:00 PM PDT, May 15, 2015
Playing The Interesting True Story of 'The Most Interesting Man in the World'

Jonathan Goldsmith doesn't always do interviews, but when he does, he does them with ET's Nischelle Turner.

The 76-year-old actor has become one of the most recognizable faces on TV as a spokesman for Dos Equis. If you own a television, you're probably familiar with the commercials, featuring quips like, "He can speak French in Russian" or "Sharks have a week dedicated to him."

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In the ads, he plays a character referred to only as The Most Interesting Man in the World, but his real story may be even more fascinating.

Goldsmith has rescued not one, not two but three people. One was a girl that he stopped from drowning in Malibu. Another was a stranded climber that he rescued on Mt. Whitney. Then there was a girl who took a scary tumble.

"I rescued a kid that fell down some insulation in the house," Goldsmith said. "We were up in the attic, which was forbidden. We had a Tudor style house that had a long Tudor tower and she fell through and went down maybe 20 feet. Insulation was coming on top of her and she was choking. I don't remember who I told but the police came. They couldn't get to her because they were too big and I was a skinny little kid, so they put a rope around me with a little harness for her so she got pulled up."

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In just nine years, Goldsmith went from broke to being worth an estimated $8 million. His lucky break stemmed from one unlikely audition arranged by his wife Barbara, who is also his agent.

"There was probably close to four or five hundred people [at the audition], and I said, 'Barbara's cute, but she made a mistake. All these gentlemen are Latinos. This is wrong,'" Goldsmith recalled.

Goldsmith has five decades in the business under his belt, and in that time, he's collected a plethora of compelling Hollywood stories. Early on in his career he played bad guys and his uncredited character in 1976's The Shootist found himself on the wrong end of John Wayne's gun.

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"[Wayne] came by and said, 'If it's any consolation, everybody that the Duke ever shot became a big star,'" Goldsmith said.

Goldsmith spent part of his school days at NYU, before he was "asked to leave." According to Goldsmith, his premature exit came as a result from his relationship with a married woman, whom he described as "irresistible."

Post-college, Goldsmith attended an acting class at New York City's Living Theatre and eventually found himself competing for roles against Dustin Hoffman and Robert Duvall. Goldsmith once had a tiff with Hoffman, where he told the now-two-time Oscar winner, "The reason you don't like me is because I'm going to make it and you're not."

"Did I ever live to regret that," Goldsmith told ET with a laugh.

Thankfully, the two seem to have repaired their relationship since then.

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"I saw him one time five or six years ago crossing the street in Beverly Hills," Goldsmith said. "He said, 'Hey, how are you doing?' And I said, 'I'm fine. Congratulations on everything.' And when I walked away, I said that I was wrong."

In the end, both men carved out their own way. Today, when he's not shooting commercials, Goldsmith lives on several acres in Vermont.

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