Long before the Dell dude, the Budweiser wassup guys or Jared there was Clara Peller.

Thirty years ago this week (January 10, 1984, to be exact), Peller burst onto the national scene by starring in what became a legendary Wendy's commercial, uttering the famous line, "Where's the beef?"

The ad was a monster success and spawned other spots, helping the fast food chain gain ground on competitors McDonald's and Burger King. It also made the then-81-year-old Peller a star no octogenrian could match in stature until Betty White came along.

The commercials became such a part of our world that Walter Mondale invoked the catchphrase during the 1984 Democratic presidential debate:

Peller, who worked as a manicurist for more than three decades, appeared on talk shows and made the media rounds before an acrimonious split with Wendy's, which canned her after she said "Where's the beef?" in a Prego ad.

Peller died in 1987 at the age of 85, leaving behind her (albeit brief) mark on the pop culture landscape.

You can check out some other spots with Peller (we especially like the one with Dick Butkus) below, as well as an interview she did with NBC.

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