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Her TV Plea—"I Can't Get Up"—Starts a Craze and Makes Edith Fore America's Favorite Fallen Woman

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Edith Fore, 74, admits she has a problem. “I’m always falling,” says the retired school nurse. “I could make a list. Stepping out on the curb, I fell right on my face. I’ve fallen taking my grandson to gymnastics class. I fell in the house and out in the garden innumerable times. I fell over a bike.” In other words, Edith Fore was born to utter the immortal cry “I’ve fallen and I can 7 get up!”

Fore’s Mayday—a TV commercial for Lifecall, a medic-alert system that summons emergency assistance by way of a radio-transmitter pendant—has become the buzz-phrase of the moment, providing grist for Johnny’s and Jay’s monologues, for T-shirts, even for message-machine recordings. And Fore, who lives in a suburb of Camden, N.J., has become the first overnight senior citizen spokeswoman since Clara Peller barked, “Where’s the beef?”

Although she found the service a life-saver when she fell in 1989 and hit her head, Fore was reluctant when a company representative sought her out for the ad. “All I could picture,” she says, “was that they would make me fall down the stairs.” They didn’t—which is perhaps what makes the spot so funny. It starts with Fore’s testimonial (“I am not an actress….”), then uses a white-wigged stuntwoman to re-create her spill, none too convincingly. But that is Fore’s voice dubbing in the all important bleat.

Fore, who says she has seen the ad fewer than a handful of times (“I don’t think I smiled enough”), so far has shunned the celebrity trip—but one of her three grandchildren, 12-year-old Jamie, is trying to boost her fame value, offering to sell her autograph at $5 per Hancock. Jamie may be a bit too enterprising. “Hey, Grandma,” he says, sticking out a leg, “I know how we can get another commercial.”