Hollywood and Madison Avenue were a marriage made in commerce heaven.
Nothing sells like celebrity, so in honor of “Oscar” a sampling of some former Academy Award winners and their winning endorsements.
With her impeccable make up, trademark bangs and “show-girl gams,” the French-born American actress Claudette Colbert was one of the brightest film stars, voted the 12th greatest Female American Screen Legend in cinema by the The American Film Institute in 1999.
Scoring an Oscar for best actress in 1934’s It Happened One Night. This classic screwball comedy with Clark Gable swept the Oscars. The film was nominated for 5 Academy Awards and won in all categories for best picture, best actor, actress, director, and best writing adaptation, a feat not repeated until 1975’s One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest.
After that blockbuster, Colbert received an Academy Award nominations for 1935’s Private World and another nomination the following year for 1944’s Since You Went Away.
By 1938 the much in demand Colbert was highly marketable appearing in numerous advertisements.
Hawking “Healthful Double Mint Gum,” we learn “Hollywood’s beautiful and fascinating star Claudette Colbert’s knows Double Mint does wonders for her smile.”
Being America’s highest paid movie star probably helped her smile as well.
When she wasn’t chewing gum, Miss Colbert enjoyed a cigarette or two. That same year the accomplished actress vouched for Lucky Strike cigarette’s gentleness to her delicate throat.
In this 1938 ad Academy Award winner Claudette Colbert (now co-starring with Gary Cooper in Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife) explains to the reader how the strain of emotional acting led her to Luckies.
“Emoting to order is certainly a real strain on the throat,” Claudette explains “That’s why an actress thinks twice about choosing a cigarette. After experimenting I’m convinced that my throat is safest with Luckies.”
Ten years late in 1948 the Oscar-winning actress switched her allegiance to Chesterfield: “I’ve tried them all, ” she claims, “Chesterfield is my favorite.”
Max Factor famously featured a bevy of Hollywood beauties for their Pan Cake Make-Up ad campaign, claiming every girl could look like a movie star using his makeup. In 1947 “The make-up for the stars and you” featured the impeccably made up Claudette Colbert.
Starring in the romantic comedy The Egg and I the very glamorous Colbert plays a reluctant chicken farmer’s wife in the same vein as TVs Green Acres.
“Max factor was the make-up that creates that smooth young look for glamorous beauty,” proved it would make even a chicken farmers wife look downright gorgeous.
It’s hard to believe that this cultural icon often called the number one movie legend of all time won only one Oscar in his illustrious career.
Humphrey Bogart was nominated for Best Actor in 1943 for Casablanca (which picked up 3 academy awards) and in 1954 for The Caine Mutiny, but it would be his role as Charlie the rough and ready boat captain in 1951’s African Queen that would be his only Oscar win.
While starring in 1948’s film noir classic Key Largo, the film in which Bogie and Bacall appear on the screen for the final time together, the star took time out to appear in an Eversharp advertisement for their “Kimberly Pockette.” A conveniently small pen “not much larger than a cigarette” it miraculously opened up to a full size model.
“A new writing wonder,” Bogart says with amazement. “I carry my Kimberly with me at all times. You can’t beat it for instant smooth writing!”
One wonders if the screen legend used it to pen any postcards from the Hotel Largo.
A true movie star, this glamorous Oscar winner was melodrama incarnate.
Joan Crawford won an academy award for best actress in 1945 for her over the top performance in the title role of Mildred Pierce a critical and commercial success. A second Oscar nomination followed in 1947 for Best Actress for her portrayal of an unstable woman possessed with her ex- lover in Possessed.
In the early 1930’s Crawford’s sex appeal made her among Hollywood’s top grossing performers appearing opposite some of the industry’s top male stars.
But by 1937 her popularity with the public was beginning to wane, and her luck was running out.
It’s no wonder Joan began smoking Lucky Strikes.
”Joan takes time out from her part in MGM’s Mannequin to play the part of Mrs Santa Claus.” the copy reads in this 1937 Lucky Strike ad. “Joan has smoked Luckies for 8 years, has been kind enough to tell us: ‘They always stay on good terms with my throat.”
She apparently did not stay on good terms with the movie going public.
After the failure of films like 1938’s Mannequin, Crawford’s name appeared in an infamous full-page Hollywood Reporter advertisement which listed actors deemed “glamorous stars detested by the public.”
However portraying the spiteful Crystal in George Cukor’s 1939 smash The Women restored some of her luster and marketability
Cukor directed her again in 1941’s A Woman’s Face helping her in her comeback. In the film the legendary “glamor puss” plays a disfigured woman and was universally praised for her radical departure away from the usual screen glamor girl.
Is it any wonder she rushed to do this glamor ad for Max Factor Pan Cake Make-Up?
Max Factor always featured the most alluring stars to do their ads. Pan Cake Make-Up was the fastest selling makeup in history. Originally created for movie stars, its famous ads featured a who’s who of Hollywood beauties including Joan Crawford in 1941.
The Comeback Kid
Despite the successes, Joan Crawford was box office poison.
Leaving MGM she signed with Warners for a third of her salary, appearing in 1944’s Hollywood Canteen as herself. Like Claudette Colbert, Crawford preferred RC Cola which apparently was all they served at the Hollywood Canteen.
Just as her career seemed in decline, and against rumors that she was to be dropped by Warners, the tenacious actress fought hard for the lead role in 1945’s Mildred Pierce where she triumphantly took home the Oscar for Best Actress.
By 1951 with an Academy Award under her belt the Oscar winner switched to Camels.
Portraying a Congresswoman in Goodbye My Fancy a more mature Crawford was still a Lux Girl joining the 9 out of 10 screen stars who claimed to use Lux Soap. Lux launched a print campaign using older stars the “I am over 31” series that had stars talking about preserving youthful skin.
The stoic, understated actor received 5 academy award nominations for best actor winning twice.
Starring in Mr Deeds Goes to Town in 1936 he received his first Academy Award nomination for this classic Capra film.
Capitalizing on his success he was picked along with other Hollywood screen stars to help sell De Soto Automobiles.
“Yes its actually Gary Cooper stepping out of a smart new De Soto!” announced this 1936 ad. “Hollywood ! Paramount Studios! Stage 3…swarming with extras prop men, camera men, stars. Suddenly a gong. Silence! The blinding flash of batteries of Klieg lights. Call-boys singing out “Mr Cooper-ready for you Mr Cooper.”
“Out of a new De Soto steps the unforgettable star of Mr Deeds Goes to Town…and another great picture “Souls at Sea” is on its way.”
The following year Cooper began a series of roles tackling real life dramas. In 1941’s Sargent York he played WWI hero and sharpshooter Alvin York and won his first Oscar for the role. The next year in 1942 he played baseball great Lou Gehrig in Pride of the Yankees where he received his third Academy Award nomination.
It would be Gary Cooper’s signature role as Will Kane in High Noon that would earn him his second Oscar for Best Actor, and garner four academy awards for the film.
During her long career this delightful Oscar winner danced into our Depression weary hearts. Best remembered as collaborating with Fred Astaire as a romantic lead, “she could,” as the saying went, “do everything that Fred Astaire her famous dancing partner did but did it backwards and in heels.”
Her determination to take on serious roles payed off big time winning the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance of a headstrong girl determined to find happiness in 1940’s Kitty Foyle.
The following year Time Magazine pronounced Ginger Rogers “the fresh and blood symbol of the United States working girl.” This “working girl” went on to star in several other films becoming the highest paid woman in America.
Showing her practical side, the popular screen star added her prestige to Dodge a lower priced automobile,
“Why should I buy an expensive car?” asks Ginger Rogers in the ad.
Appealing to a Depression era audience the ad explains:“Like many another who could afford a more expensive car the combination of beauty and economy won Miss Rogers to the new big Dodge.”
Why should she do this ad…a brand new movie to plug of course. “Ginger Rogers who skyrocketed to new popularity in such films as Gay Divorcee and Top Hat is appearing with Fred Astaire in “Follow the Fleet” the new RKO film now being shown at your neighborhood theater” the ad informs us.
A hard-working, much sought after pro who played strong tough women, Barbara Stanwyck got an Oscar nod four times. In 1938 she was nominated for Best Actress in Stella Dallas, in 1942 for Ball of Fire, in 1945 for Double Indemnity and again in 1949 for Sorry Wrong Number.
Acknowledging her long illustrious career, she was the recipient of an Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1981.
While starring in Stella Dallas for which she received her first Academy Award nomination, she posed for a Lucky Strikes ad. in 1937
The future Academy Award Nominee tells the reader how she found Luckies gentlest on her throat:
“When the talkies came to Hollywood,” says Barbara Stanwyck, “my previous stage experience on Broadway gave me my chance in pictures.” Taking care of my throat became serious business with me. I decided I had to treat my throat well, so I changed to Luckies, a light smoke. They made a big hit with me.”
Some consider 2 time Academy Award winning actress Elizabeth Taylor the queen of American movie stardom from the golden age of Hollywood.
Dazzling a generation of movie goers with her stunning beauty her very name synonymous with Hollywood glamor.
Glamorous and beautiful this 2 time Oscar winner for Best Actress was nominated 3 times in a row before her Oscar drought ended in 1960 for her role in Butterfield 8.
The legendary actress famed for her breathtaking beauty was a natural for beauty product ads.
I’m a Lux Girl
With her fair, glowing skin, Taylor joined the legion of legendary lovely Lux girls.
Lux concentrated on building its brand with movie stars early on in 1929 which created a huge impact among movie loving audiences. Billing itself as Hollywood’s one beauty soap, they claimed “9 out of 10 screen stars use Lux Soap.”
Miss Taylor first appeared as a Lux girl while starring in Father of the Bride. “A bride of dreamlike loveliness that’s Elizabeth Taylor in her latest picture. Notice the radiant beauty of her complexion – its Lux complexion.”
You’re as Lovely as a Movie Star
“I’d love to look like Elizabeth Taylor,” says the girl longingly in the 1956 Lux ad. Tactfully, her beau responds: “Well you look wonderful to me just as you are.”
“To him you’re as lovely as a movie star,” the copy reads.” There’s no doubt in his mind you’re very lovely. And there’s no doubt that your complexion deserves the same good care as Elizabeth Taylor gives her. Like 9 out of 10 Hollywood Stars she keeps her skin lovely with Lux.”
The Most Beautiful Hair in the World
As famous for her raven hair as her violet eyes she soon she joined the legion of Hollywood’s most bewitching stars who claimed they washed their famous locks in Lustre Crème shampoo.
Naturally, the shampoo emphasizes how “hair is vital to her on-screen presence.”
Yes, Elizabeth Taylor uses Lustre Crème shampoo to keep her hair always alluring. The care of her beautiful hair is vital to her glamor appeal. You too like Elizabeth Taylor will notice a glorious difference in your hair once you know the magic of Lustre Crème shampoo.”
Ironically it would be her role as the loudmouthed, shrewish, unkempt Martha in 1966’s Whose Afraid of Virginia Wolf? that won the gorgeous Elizabeth Taylor her second Oscar.
Copyright (©) 2014 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved
Ginger Rogers couldn’t resist the seductive appeal of fancy cars forever. One summer day the buzz on the Burt School playground was that Ginger Rogers was buying a new car at Klett Cadillac on Detroit’s Grand River Avenue in our West side neighborhood. We little Wright boys had no idea who Ginger Rogers was but we knew it was important that we run as fast as we could to Klett Cadillac which we did. We burst into the showroom as the sales contract was being finalized and signed by an unbelievably glamorous and exotic lady. Her agent (?) at her side said “Well Miss Rogers, you are now poorer by six thousand dollars.” The Klett salesman said ” No, Miss Rogers, you are wealthier by one Cadillac.” We said ” Could we please have your autograph, Miss Rogers?” After giving us her autograph she told us to go home and tell our mother what nice polite boys she had raised.
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Great story, what a wonderful memory – thanks for sharing.I’m curious what year that was when the Cadillac was $6,000- late 1940’s?
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This was approximately 1958. I’m guessing I was about 10 and I think my memory of $6000 is pretty accurate because the MSRP price before options for a 4 door Cadillac Deville sedan was $5498.
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