When you were avoiding eye contact on the subway, you could always look at Dr. Jonathan Zizmor. The dermatologist’s cheery rainbows-and-acne ads, usually with his ageless face at their center, have watched over commuters since the early 1980s. But soon New Yorkers may need to find a new doctor to promise them clear skin at an affordable price — the New York Daily News reports that Zizmor has retired. According to the paper, the skin doctor plans to spend his golden years traveling with his wife and studying the Talmud.
Zizmor has said that his public-transit advertisements were motivated by a desire to democratize cosmetic care.“I was getting all my fancy-schmancy people,” Zizmor told Business Insider in 2009. “I wanted to see the rest of the world.” Yes, his practice was perhaps not as crisply run as it might have been: He was shut down for three years in 2004 and fined $40,000, and his Yelp ratings are cringe-inducing. But as a curiously ageless public character, the Great Mole Remover of the IRT, he was a huge success.
These days, the only ads Zizmor is placing are both fancy and schmancy: According to Curbed, his 7,000-square-foot Bronx house was listed at $2.975 million in late September. At one point, he hoped the property, in Fieldston, might someday play host to a kind of amateur United Nations turned utopian reality show. “This is going to sound weird, but we want to use it for world peace,” Zizmor told The New Yorker in 2003. “We are going to invite people who hate each other, and they will spend a weekend together.” Makes sense: His ads were the closest thing taciturn subway patrons ever had to a conversation starter.