The Oscar for the Best Vintage Celebrity Endorsement

Hollywood Celebrity Endorsement Smoking Chesterfield Cigarette Ads

And the Oscar for the most celebrity endorsements goes to…Chesterfield Cigarettes. Tobacco companies paid Hollywood Oscar contenders of the 1940’s and 50’s millions of dollars in today’s money to endorse their brand of cigarette. Just a sampling of top box office stars who appeared in Chesterfield ads alone were (Top L-R) Rita Hayworth starring in “Down to Earth” 1947, Ann Baxter in “Follow the Sun” 1951, Kirk Douglas starring in “Young Man With a Horn” 1950, (Bottom L-R) Bing Crosby, “Riding High” 1949, Tyrone Power in “Luck of the Irish” 1948, and Claudette Colbert starring in “Sleep My Love” 1948

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.

The Oscar for the Best Celebrity Endorsement goes to…

Claudette Colbert

Vintage RC Cola ad Claudette Colbert 1942

Vintage Royal Crown Cola ad 1942
RC Cola featured Miss Colbert in this 1942 ad, one of dozens of Hollywood actresses the cola used in its long running ad campaign.
“One Cola Does Taste Best” says Claudette Colbert now starring in “Palm Beach Story”

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.

Movie Star Claudette Colbert ad for Double Mint Gum

Vintage Ad Double Mint Gum Featuring Claudette Colbert 1938
Promoting her next big Paramount picture a romantic comedy called “Midnight,” would do wonders for her career too!

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.

Movie Star  Claudette Colbert 1938 Lucky Strike ad

Vintage ad for Lucky Strike cigarettes featuring Claudette Colbert 1938

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.”

Film star  Claudette Colbert  Chesterfield Cigarette ad 1948

Vintage ad for Chesterfield Cigarettes featuring Hollywood legend Claudette Colbert now starring in Sleep My Love 1948

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.”

Movie Star  Claudette Colbert in Max Factor Make Up ad 1947

1947 Vintage ad for Max Factor Pan Cake Make-Up featuring Claudette Colbert

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.

Humphrey Bogart

Film Star Humphrey  Bogart  in ad for Eversharp pens

1951 Vintage ad for Eversharp Pen featuring Hollywood Icon Humphrey Bogart who in 1999 The American Film Institute ranked the epitome of class, tough, cool and sophisticated, as the greatest male star in the history of American cinema.

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.

Joan Crawford

celebrity Joan Crawford

Vintage ad 1946 Joan Crawford for Maybelline Cosmetics
“The eye makeup I would never be without!”

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.

Movie Star Joan Crawford Lucky Strikes ad 1937

1937 Christmas ad for Lucky Strikes featuring Joan Crawford

”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

Movie Star Joan Crawford Max factor ad 1941

Vintage Max Factor ad from 1941 featuring Joan Crawford

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

movie star  Joan Crawford 1944  RC Cola ad

Vintage ad for RC Cola with Joan Crawford 1944

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.

movie star Joan Crawford Camels cigarette ad 1951

Vintage 1951 Camels Cigarette ad featuring movie star Joan Crawford

By 1951 with an Academy Award under her belt the Oscar winner switched to Camels.

Movie Star Joan Crawford Lux soap ad 51

“Be Lux Lovely” says Joan Crawford in a 1951 ad for Lux Soap

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.

Gary Cooper

celebrity Gary Cooper 37 SWScan08664 - Copy

Vintage ad for De Soto featuring screen legend Gary Cooper 1936

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.”

movie star Gary Cooper ad

In 1940 he appeared in an ad Emerson radio while starring in The Westerner. years later Gary Cooper received an Honorary Award in 1961 from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

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.

Ginger Rogers

movie star  Ginger Rogers 1936  Dodge

The actress, dancer and singer the epitome of the Sophisticated Lady, appeared in this 1936 ad for Dodge, a lower priced automobile.

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.

Barbara Stanwyck

movie star Barbara Stanwyck  Lucky Strike ad 1937

Vintage Ad Lucky Strike 1937 Barbara Stanwyck

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.”

Elizabeth Taylor

celebrity elizabeth taylor f SWScan00099

When appearing in the 1956 classic Giant with James Dean they featured her breathtaking beauty in an ad for Lux You’re just as lovely as a movie star.

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

Celebrity Elizabeth taylor Lux

Lux was Hollywood’s beauty soap claiming 9 out of 10 screen stars use Lux Toilet Soap
Vintage ad 1950 Elizabeth Taylor Lux Soap

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

celebrity elizabeth taylor c SWScan00099

“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

Hollywood legend  Elizabeth taylor Lustre Creme shampoo

“Lustre Crème presents Elizabeth Taylor -one of the top 12 voted by Model Hair and a jury of famed hair stylists as having the worlds loveliest hair.

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 (©) 2015 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved



  1. I remember when I started in advertising back in the late 70’s. Cigarette advertising was on the way out and so tightly regulated it was nearly impossible to create anything appealing. As the “new kid” I got saddled with the accounts. Little did I know, my pride at getting these high end clients would in fact be the most miserable years of my career. (I began to secretly donated to the ‘ban cigarette advertising’ lobby groups)…and I was a smoker! 😉


  2. Gosh, I remember soooo many of these ads! 😦


  3. I love it. Outstanding. Only thing you missed was Orson Welles doing Paul Masson wine. “We will sell no wine before its time.” And I could see Joan Crawford selling coat hangers.

    Liked by 1 person

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