Monday, November 4, 2019

The Vintage Television Review
- Famous Female Commercial Icons From the 60's and 70's

I've been thinking a lot about the television shows of my childhood. Growing up in the 60's, I recall when we got our first colored television set. I was probably about six or seven years old, and I remember with fondness my mother's excitement when she told me that the next day we would be able to watch our favorite television shows in color, because a new t.v. set was going to be delivered! And we definitely were not disappointed. Color breathed new life into the characters and stories we had already come to love. For my mother that was soap opera's, her favorites being As The World Turns and The Guiding Light. And I just discovered today that As The World Turns aired on radio and television from 1956 to 2010, that's 54 years, and The Guiding Light aired from 1952 to 2009, 57 years! I'm pretty sure there was never a prime time show with that kind of staying power!

As a young bride in the 80's I watched soap operas for a short time. But in the end it was old movies that really captured my heart, and I'll be sharing more about some of the them soon, in The Old Movie Review. But since I don't want to clog up all of my posts reminiscing over vintage television and old movies, I thought I'd switch them out here and there, for a fun little trip down memory lane and hopefully to introduce you to some old gems you may not be familiar with. But for now, lets get back to those soap operas!

My fondest memories of day time television in the 60's and 70's is honestly, the commercials. I really loathe commercials these days, which are monopolized by pharmaceutical companies or insurance agencies and their over used, quirky marketing campaigns. Flo was funny for awhile, but the old gal is aging a little, at least for me.

But there were a few other female ad icons from the 60's and 70's, that I recall with fondness. They  were the faces of products that depicted every day life in small town America. So join me for a few minutes as we take a little step back to a time not so long ago, and reacquaint ourselves with a few of them.

Do you remember?

❈ Josephine the Plumber / Comet Cleanser
"Gets out stains when other leading cleansers can't!"

The friendly household pitchwoman, Josephine, was the face of Comet Cleanser in the 60's and 70's, and no one could pull off a "side by side comparison" better than Josephine, sprinkling and scrubbing Comet against any number of "other leading cleansers".

Jane Wither's career began as a child, with one of her most notable roles being the spoiled, obnoxious, doll-ripping, bicycle-riding brat who terrorizes sweet Shirley Temple in Twentieth Century-Fox's Bright Eyes (1934). huggable, brunette-banged Jane was fun, rambunctious and full of kinetic energy--a scrappy little tomboy who could take on any boy at any time, which won her the leading role in close to 50 B-level films back in the day, such as,  Ginger (1935), and Johnny Doughboy (1942), among others.

It was TV, however, that would turn Jane into a wealthy woman as a friendly household pitchwoman. Her decades-long job as the dress-downed Josephine the Plumber pushing Comet cleanser made her one popular gal. Here you can watch her in one of those ads, where Rosie is selling a young Robby Bensen on the superior performance of super-stain removing Comet!

❈ Mrs. Olson - Folger's Coffee
"Mountain grown, it's the richest coffee there is!"

No one came to the aide of hapless young housewives who struggled to make a decent cup of coffee better than Mrs. Olson. With her sweet Swedish accent, Mrs. Olson saved many a marriage, so long as the her protege always remembered to use Mountain Grown Folger's Coffee!

Portrayed by Virginia Christine, she worked in radio while attending the University of California, and was trained for a theatrical career by Fritz Field, whom she married in 1940. She appeared in films such as Edge of Darkness (1943), High Noon (1952) and The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). But her greatest fame came in the 1960's when she started her 21-year stint as the matronly "Mrs. Olson", offering words of comfort to young married couples while pouring them a cup of Folger's Coffee. You'll find her here, serving up comfort with coffee to a distraught young wife.

❈ Madge the Manicurist - Palmolive Dishwashing Liquid
"You're soaking in it!"

Probably the most memorable from my childhood, is Madge, portrayed by actress Jan Milner. The campaign ad, which featured a manicurist who worked at Salon East Beauty Parlor, soaked her customers fingernails in Palmolive dishwashing liquid, advising her clients, "Palmolive softens your hands while you do the dishes".  The campaign ran from 1966 to 1992, and was televised in other countries, as well. In France (where Madge was "Fran├žoise"),Germany, Switzerland, and Austria (in all three as "Tilly"),and in Finland (as "Marissa").

Miner was a well established radio and film actress. She had featured roles in the dramatic radio anthology, Radio City Playhouse, and appeared on television in shows such as, Boston Blackie and Casey, Crime Photographer. But she became an icon to TV viewers as Madge, the wisecracking manicurist. You can catch Madge in action in this clip, from 1981.

There were a few other notable ad campaigns featuring women, such as;

❈ Rosie the Waitress - Bounty Paper Towels 
"Bounty, the quicker picker upper!"

Portrayed by Nancy Walker (also of Mary Tyler Moore/Rhoda fame, where she was cast as Rhoda's mother.) She's pitching Bounty, here.

And no compilation would be complete if I didn't include

❈ Cora, The Maxwell House Lady
"Good to the last drop!"

Portrayed by legendary Margaret Hamilton, who frightened me to bits as a child, not as The Wicked Witch of the West, but oddly enough, as Elmira Gulch. I would watch that movie end to end in my childhood days, with the exception of one scene, Elmira Gulch on her bicycle. I had nightmares about that woman riding down my street and stuffing me in her basket and whisking me away.  Isn't it funny, the things that frighten us as a child? To be honest when I watch it now, I think it was the music and image combined that frightened me. Who really knows?

Sweet Miss Cora however, showcased Margaret in a much sweeter light.

Well, I hope you've enjoyed reminiscing with me today! It's a big, busy Monday and I need to get to it!  But if you liked this post, I'll be back next week with some iconic men of the 60's and 70's, who memorably pitched their wares and secured a place in our hearts! But before I leave, I wanted to let you know that I'll be launching The Old Movie Review on Black Friday, and starting off with a select group of old holiday movies that you may not be familiar with (or forgotten about), but that are sure to bring a smile! I'll be featuring a few not-so-old favorites, as well.  So be sure to stop by!


Carolina said...

Wow, this is a well-researched post! Movies and actors have changed so much with time, it really makes you miss the good old days.

Kimberly Lottman said...

Welcome to the blog, Caroline! Thanks so much for commenting. Yes, tv, and especially commercials have definitely changed over the years, and I do miss the quant sweetness of the ads from days gone by. Coffee, dishwashing liquid, and cleaning products. The world has definitely changed!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for those memories! My mom watched As the World Turns, my grandmother, The Guiding Light. I had no idea they went on for THAT long. Wow!


Kimberly Lottman said...

I had no idea, either! I was really shocked! All this stay at home moms of that era. I am so thankful my mom was one and that I have been able to do so, as well! But women of that era were avid fans. :)

Julie said...

So much fun - loved seeing Madge & Rosie again. Their clips brought back childhood memories for me - thanks!

Kimberly Lottman said...

Glad you enjoyed them!