Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Here's a couple Christmas themed spots from 1970. The first is a TV station animation package that local affiliates used to put their logos on. Not sure if these were just time-fillers. The second is a Goodyear record promotion for the Great Songs of Christmas... and you thought they only made tires and blimps.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I don't want to grow up...

With Christmas fast approaching I’ve decided to post some rare toy commercials from my favorite decade, the 70s. To kick things off, how about one of the earliest examples of a Toys R Us commercial. This ad aired in 71-72 timeframe when Toys R Us was owned by Interstate Stores. Interstate, which already owned several other chains (White Front and Topps Department Stores and Children's Bargain Town USA) purchased Toys R Us from founder Charles Lazarus in 1967. During this timeframe, Interstate was expanding its operations aggressively with stores in Washington DC and Baltimore markets. Lazarus remained to run the stores, eventually becoming CEO in the mid-70s, outlasting Interstate’s bankruptcy and re-emergence as Toys R Us, Inc. You can read an excellent summary of the history of Toys R Us over at the Pleasant Family Shopping Center’s blog.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Google - Life

Google never ceases to amaze me. This past week they announced a deal to put Life’s image archive on the web… 10 million photographs… of which 97% have never been seen before now. Photos include now famous photographers like Gordon Parks, Margaret Bourke-White and Dorothea Lange. You can check out the stunning collection here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Dark Side of Star Wars...

An important milestone in Star Wars history managed to slip past me this year... It was 30 years ago this past Monday that the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special aired on CBS (Nov 17, 1978). Think of a Star Wars variety hour... with a troupe of 70s stars filling in where the script ended... Bea Arthur, Harvey Korman, Art Carney, Diahann Carroll and Jefferson Airplane mixing it up with Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher... in an uncomfortable affair that would give new meaning to Newton Minow’s “vast wasteland” speech.

"...when television is bad, nothing is worse.”

It was the first and last time it ever aired on US television, although fans have been able to satiate their appetite by buying, trading and downloading copies for the last 20 years.

Even though I missed the official date, I was able to unknowingly take part in the festivities by NOT watching it again.

For those of you who can't get enough of the special, check out the unofficial headquarters for all things Star Wars Holiday Special related, including some brand new interviews and pictures.

More NASA...

While the recovery and restoration of the Lunar Explorer tapes has been a great success, we must not forget about the missing Moon landing footage. In 1969 NASA had live images of the Moon landing broadcast around the world. To accomplish this, they had the image transmitted, processed, re-transmitted, re-processed and broadcast. The results were poor quality, ghostly images of what was mankinds greatest achievement. However, NASA did record the raw lunar footage at their tracking stations, which is much crisper and sharper than anything you or I have ever seen. Unfortunately, NASA boxed up the tapes, shipped them back to their headquarters and then proceeded to lose track of them. They’re now in their 2nd year of the search. You can read a pretty good summary of what happened, and an appeal for help here.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Earthrise Revisited

In 1966 and 1967, NASA flew five Lunar Orbital missions around the Moon to find potential Apollo landing sites and to map the Moon's polar regions. These missions were incredibly successful and managed to record 99% of the surface. The analog data streams, which contained audio, photo and telemetry information were recorded to magnetic tape back on Earth and largely forgotten. Forty-three years later, the retired caretaker of those tapes is working hard to get the data transferred from a antiquated media and discovering some pretty amazing stuff in the process. NASA just posted a press release on the effort on Thursday. You can read about the recovery effort, and see pictures as they're recovered, on their website, Appropriately, the first recovered photo they released a newly found copy (twice the resolution of the one released in the 60s) of the iconic Earthrise photo. I can't wait to see what else they find on these tapes.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Jim Haislop

Do you recall those cheesy wrestling and body-building magazines in the 60s and 70s? As a kid I remember flipping through issues trying figure out how I was going to sculpt my 75 pound skeleton into a man of steel. Dreaming was about as close as I ever got. Well, what’s one more unrealized childhood dream? I guess we can toss it on the stack alongside power of invisibility and the ability to freeze time.

I recently uncovered a neat commercial for Lestoil (less toil… for those who have pun detection turned off) which featured the 1969 Mr. America Jim Haislop. From what I understand, Jim now resides in Florida, has retired from body-building and occasionally judges competition.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

4 out of 5 Dentists...

I always found it funny how Trident managed to twist the "4 of 5 dentist" survey into the appearance of a product endorsement by dentists. Kinda like saying "4 out of 5 pulmonologist surveyed recommend filtered, low tar, low nicotine cigarettes for their idiot patients who continue to put their health at risk by engaging in the dangerous behavior that is smoking." Sounds like quite the endorsement, huh?

Here's a Trident ad that aired in January of 1971.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sammy does Bogie

Sammy Davis Jr., in addition to being a versatile singer, dancer and comedian was also a skilled impressionist. It was Mickey Rooney who encouraged Sammy to perfect this talent and persuaded him to work it into his act, which at the time was mainly song and dance. Among his best impressions were Louie Armstrong, Jerry Lewis, Peter Lawford and Nat King Cole. He was also quite good at Humphrey Bogart. In this 1972 commercial for GE portable tape recorders, Sammy Davis Jr. does one of his patented impressions of Bogie.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sometimes you feel like a nut... sometimes you feel old

This ad is over 30 years old, yet I remember it like yesterday. This particular one aired in the spring of 1977 although the jingle itself was used well into the 80s.

One thing that caught my eye was the actor who looks remarkably like Topher Grace (aka Eric Foreman from That '70s Show).

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mustard... for all that ails you

For centuries people used to seek relief from colds and coughs by using mustard plaster home remedies. For those who don’t know, mustard plasters was basically a paste created by mixing mustard, flour and warm water. The paste would then be quickly spread across a piece of cloth and then laid over the face of the sick individual. Mustard paste would be on par with using that yellow mustard sauce from Chinese restaurants… I can see how it would clear the sinuses. As with most remedies, it became a ridiculous catch-all for other ailments. After Lincoln was mortally wounded by an assassin’s bullet, one of the first things doctors did was to apply mustard plasters.

Musterole was originally developed in 1905 by Cleveland pharmacist A. L. McLaren to relieve chest congestion, coughs and muscle aches. It became extremely popular following World War I as an alternative to the messy mustard plaster remedy.

Through a series of purchases and mergers, the Musterole Co. eventually ended up as an asset of Schering-Plough. It doesn’t appear that Musterole is produced any longer.

Here's a 1971 commercial for Musterole that I just uncovered. Love the hypnotic chanting...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Another 7-Up Commercial

1971 7-UP Commercial starring Trinidadian character actor Geoffrey Holder who has also worked as choreographer, dancer, painter, costume designer, singer and voice-over artist. So popular were these ads, 7-UP created a new batch with Geoffrey in the 1980s.