Empire Carpet Man Dies At 89

UPDATED 04/28/11 8:30 a.m.

NORTHLAKE, Ill. (CBS) — The man who became an icon to Chicagoans as the Empire Carpet Man has died at the age of 89.

Elmer Lynn Hauldren was the pitchman for the Empire Carpet, now known as Empire Today, since 1977. He became every bit as familiar to Chicagoans as the famous jingle, “588-2300, Empire!” – with “800” added at the front in more recent years.

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The Evanston resident died Tuesday night, according to the company.

Hauldren worked with Empire until his death. He had most recently been doing voiceovers, and his Empire Man character had been transformed into an animated figure.

Hauldren was also a member of the vocal group that sang the “Empire” jingle, the company said.

Empire chief executive officer Steve Silvers says Hauldren’s legacy will live on,

“I think at this point, the decision is to continue using the caricature. I think that goes to his legacy and that brand that he created,” Silvers said.

Hauldren was also a decorated World War II veteran, whose service involved a journey that saved lives and made history.

In 2005, Hauldren told former CBS 2 reporter Jon Duncanson that as a 23-year-old radio operator, he volunteered to answer the call to deliver supplies to Chinese port cities starving from a Japanese naval blockade. The mission involved driving 150 truckloads over 1,500 miles down dusty trails from India down the Burma Road to China, and risking hits from enemy planes.

When Hauldren returned to China in 2005, he found that his service had not been forgotten.

“[We] Walked into the terminal. Here’s all these people cheering and flowers and television cameras and we thought there must be some bigwigs on the plane. Turned out we were the bigwigs,” he said.

Hauldren also gained notoriety as a barbershop quartet singer, and recorded several albums with his group Chordiac Arrest.

“Hauldren’s contribution to the brand was monumental,” Empire says.

Empire Carpet Commercial Archive
Empire Man Facebook Page

More from Lisa Fielding
  • FNLFan

    The Heavenly chorus has gained another Baritone…..

  • He was CHI

    Rest In Peace – He old school for sure, i hated it when they went to 5882300, Empire. …..(today) what was with that…. the luna jingle is catchy also but nothing like empire, that baby embedded !!!

  • Matt

    This is really sad. Many childhood memories of the empire carpet man.

  • Rest in Piece

    I wonder whatever happened to the guy on the Victory Auto Wreckers commercial. He opens the car door and it falls off.

    • jen

      Did you know that person I believe that the person in that commerical was never paid out.

  • South Side

    You from Chicago, huh? What’s Empire’s phone number?

  • south side

    dude, r u a D.A. ? dumb a_ _ ? the # is in the story…..dont make us whitesox fans look idiots…..

  • Dan Rakow

    Lynn Harenuld will continue to live in the hearts of Chicagoans with the Empire Carpet TV Commericals and will be shown on You Tube.

  • Kathy T. Great

    His was the first phone number I ever memorized. I remember at age 4 I was LIVID when my parents bought carpeting from another company. Mr. Hauldren, you will be sorely missed!

  • tunafish charlie

    Big DEAL…so did my GOLD FISH..

    • Jack black

      Aww, will u be giving the euology?

  • lms

    Whatta nice guy! Met him at a new years eve party in the early 90’s–the man had a magnificent voice in person–if you heard him talking a room away you’d know instantly who it was. I was totally star struck which is completely unlike me. Thanks for becoming a part of Chicago ad history Lynn!

  • Favorite Local Commercails

    My 5 favorite local TV commercials/jingles when I was a kid:

    1.) Empire
    2.) Luna (when the area code was 312)
    3.) Eagle Insurance (Do you have insurance on this car?)
    4.) Victory Auto Records (Absolutely hysterical the same commercial is on with the 70’s fro and all).
    5.) Moo-and-Oink (I still get this song stuck in my head at work sometimes)

  • Fav Commercails

    I meant Victory Auto Wreckers – sorry.


    Rest In Peace. you were a part of my life if only thru a commerical. i will remember the commercial where they had guys dressed as bunnys as the funniest one. My condolences to your family.

  • I Prefer Granite Floors

    So long, you old buzzard!

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  • Natasha DecemberBaby Thomas

    588-2300 EMPIRE!!!
    RIP man, grew up watching that commercial.

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  • ss4evr

    “what’s empires phone number”? was a question to prove you were from chitown, dumb>>>

  • William Jenkins

    Awwww, damn. That’s a shame. I really liked old Empire Man (that’s what we used to call him). We used to sing “588-2300, Empire!” to prove we were from Chicago when I went to college in Florida in the ’70s.

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