Friday, August 11, 2017
More Celebrity Endorsements & Unfortunate TV Ads
As Señor Blogmeister's writing mojo was last seen approximately 15 miles off the coast of Paraguay, today's post shall not be a thoughtful essay but a followup to the last one about celebrities endorsing what would in 21st century parlance be called "adult beverages."
This time, the celebrities shall be endorsing cigarettes.
Celebrities and movie stars hawking smokes proved ubiquitous in print advertising throughout the 1930's and the 1940's - and in the 1950's, would become a staple on television.
After all, cigarettes transformed meek, impotent, lily-livered Casper Milquetoast types instantaneously into ultra-macho cowboys!
Smoke enough cigarettes and you can even be rough and tough like John Wayne!
Once transformed from schlemiel into a free swinging he-man like The Duke, a chain smoker could get girls, too - hubba hubba! Couch potatoes rejoice as 1964 style babes emerge from the television set and bequeath one with Newport cigarettes!
It wasn't just movie stars. Dentists were cool with their patients smoking with the passion, ferocity and frequency of Humphrey Bogart - as long as the brand was Viceroy!
And back in those days, your doctor WANTED you to smoke!
After all, doctors preferred smoooooooth Camel cigarettes 2 to 1.
Since cigarette ads were officially banned from TV as of January 1, 1971, these commercials elicit quizzical looks - and massive double takes from those under 30 - in 2017, but 65 years ago, the biggest show on television, I Love Lucy, was sponsored by none other than Philip Morris.
After throwing scalding coffee in your face - that brutal Fritz Lang flick was titled The Big Heat for more reasons than one - menacing tough guy Lee Marvin enjoyed a workout at the gym, followed by a satisfying smoke - Pall Mall!
The Beverly Hillbillies were sponsored by Winston cigarettes. If only an irate, chain-smoking Granny could have confronted those responsible at CBS for the show's hideously loud laugh track. . .
Another show sponsored by Winstons was the Flintstones. Knowing the undisciplined tendencies of Fred & Barney, it's just as well there was no 420 in Bedrock!
Ads for smokes even extended to TV game shows. The appropriately named Bob Barker hosted Truth Or Consequences (which never quite touched what the long-term consequences of a 5-pack-a-day smoking habit would be),sponsored by Belair Cigarettes. Hey, in showbiz, a guy or gal's gotta work - and work it. . . and Bob Barker did.
None of this is any surprise to those of us over the age of 60 who remember seeing "Call For Philip Morris," "Winston Tastes Good Like A (tap tap) Cigarette Should," "Show Us Your Lark" and "LS/MFT" on television, as well as pondering whether we wanted good grammar or good taste. The sole message was "smoke! smoke! smoke! that cigarette!"
The "my apologies for smoking" tours, produced for the American Cancer Society, once The Duke, Yul Brynner, Bill Talman and other tobacco-lovin' stars became deathly ill with lung cancer, did not happen until a few years later.