Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Alcohol and Tobacco, but no Firearms

Stars don't hawk sin products anymore. There was a time when that's all they attached their name to. Now it's beauty lotions, diets and exercise machines but back in the day Hedy Lamarr was proud to announce, for a bit of money, that Schaefer was a fine tasting beer. Okay, it must have been a lot of money. Here are some top ads from 1945, 1946 and 1947 (taken from my collection of Broadway Playbills of the period). Sadly, a couple of these stars died thanks to the products they were pushing.

That's Tyrone Power? That's the guy from Nightmare Alley? I'd swear it was Lord Stimson Throckmorton Pettisford III. Well, it was in a Playbill after all, maybe they were trying to appeal to the Theatre crowd. Despite the High Class Threads, there was nothing refined or high class about dropping dead at 44 from a massive heart attack due to years of chain smoking. That's way too young to go.*


Mmmmmm, Schaefer Beer. Goes down smooth. Hedy could pull off anything.


Another sad case. Ann Sheridan developed esophageal cancer. She had been a chain smoker for years. She died at 51.*


Adolphe was apparently too good for a photo and demanded a woodcut. He died of hepatitis, which can be caused by alcohol abuse but I'm not familiar with Menjou's drinking habits so I can't say for sure if that was the cause. If anyone knows, fill me in.


Claudette loved Chesterfields so much she did an ad a year (I have several more from other Playbills). She also lived to be 93.


And now my favorite, the Seagram's Ad praising The Lost Weekend. Milland isn't actually hawking the product for them here but I love how Seagram's understood that when the biggest film of the year is about alcoholism, a scant 12 years after it's been made legal again, it's time to save face - and fast! But my favorite part is this:

"...some men should not drink! Yes, that is our most earnest conviction. Indeed, we published back in 1938 a moderation message titled with those identical words... "SOME MEN SHOULD NOT DRINK" ...which might well have been the name for this great picture instead of "The Lost Weekend."

I think we can all be thankful to the powers that be that Seagrams was not in charge of naming movies for Hollywood. Still... it would have been kind of fun.

The Godfather --- Some Men Should Not Take Over the Family Business!

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest --- Some Men Should Not Feign Mental Illness to Avoid Serving Time!

The Bridge on the River Kwai --- Some Men Should Not be in Charge of Construction of Bridges for the Enemy while Being Held as a Prisoner of War!

Dracula --- Some Men Should Not Drink ... Wine. And Don't!

Frankenstein --- Some Men Should Not Play God by Sending a Lab Assistant to Steal a Brain That They Can Insert Into the Skull of a Corpse They Have Stolen from the Cemetery!

20,0000 Leagues Under the Sea --- Some Men Should Not Build Atomic Submarines!

Psycho --- Some Men Should Not Run Motels!


*Can you tell I'm trying to get myself ready to quit smoking in the next couple of weeks?