Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Lustre Creme Celebrities (1952-1954)
So remember last week when I told you that your dreams of matrimony and wedded bliss could be just a Lustre Creme rinse away? LC's top advertising men dropped the wedding angle by the early 1950's and instead pursued pure glitz in the form of these celebrity endorsements. You, too, could have a glorious russet bouffant the likes of which Arlene Dahl herein displays, with a simple drug store counter purchase of this luxury shampoo! The movie mentioned in the advertisement was so memorable I wasn't even able to find a trailer or lobby card for it, but Miss Dahl went on to marry Lex Barker and Fernando Lamas, and is mother of actor Lorenzo Lamas. Behold, the power of Lustre Creme!
Now HERE are some familiar faces shilling for LC-- from the top, Ava Gardner, Barbara Stanwyck, and Bette Davis. Ava looks fabulous, Bette looks the world's most glamorous librarian (I surrender the mantle, ha ha), and Stanwyck.... well, what the heck. Why are you dressed in three stands of pearls and a voile wrap to sit around in what appears to be a haunted graveyard? If the art editors were going for mysterious, they overshot the mark a bit and went straight to "creepy". I still love you, Stans, but this is not a good look. Ava Gardner's ad is hawking her appearance in Mogombo, the 1953 remake of the Jean Harlow/Mary Astor/Clark Gable picture Red Dust (1932), where Ava Gardner steps into the wisecracking Harlow role with less vulnerability but just as much sass, Mary Astor's part is seamlessly taken by the much prettier and possibly more capable Grace Kelly, and Clark Gable... well, Clark Gable reprises his role as a rubber plantation baron twenty one years later with more or less aplomb. What an idea, MGM! Bette Davis's ad doesn't mention a movie, but does describe her as having one of the "Top 12" heads of hair, as judged by a panel of Modern Screen and several famed hair stylists. Atta gal, Bette!
The ultra-soignée Deborah Kerr ("It rhymes with STAR!" as her publicity copy used to crow) would appear in From Here to Eternity in the time period this ad ran, a role that would forever confuse my grade school era idea of her as the prim, English schoolteacher/songbird in The King and I. Nothing gold can stay. She too is in the illustrious top twelve of "world's loveliest hair". Nice work! I love the button detail at the back of her dress... after reading about the new Mrs. Paul McCartney, Nancy Shevell's, Chloe wedding dress and its Wallis Simpson wedding dress inspiration, I've been thinking rows of buttons for weeks. Aren't they the limit of chic?
Below, Elizabeth Taylor is her usual beyond striking self. In her early twenties' here, she was at the height of her "doe eyed beauty" phase, which eventually gave way to the much married "smoldering siren" look of Maggie the Cat and Gloria Wanderous, adopted in her late twenties' and early thirties'. Is her coloring not perfect? I love the delicate detail on her earrings and the single lavender strap of an evening gown to let you know the dress matches the violet of her eyes. Deepest sigh.
Below, two lovely heads of hair on Jane Powell and Esther Williams. Jane Powell was a bridesmaid in Elizabeth Taylor's first wedding, to Nicky Hilton (not that one, the OTHER one), and Esther Williams, the swimming star of MGM, was Fernando Lama's third wife, after the aforementioned Arlene Dahl! Oh, the six degrees of separation are even closer than that in these Lustre Creme ads.
WHAT. HAVE THEY DONE. TO MY JOANIE. Lustre Creme! What in the heck!?
Worse than the witch-i-fication of Barbara Stanwyck is this BIZARRELY unflattering portrait of the hardest working gal in show business. Though her natural hair color was a dark red in real life (in between colorings, at least), I'm pretty sure no human's real color is THIS color. And the overgenerous "Crawford smear" she'd affected for most of the previous decade, is not... the lipstick is...I don't even know what it's doing. It's neat to see her sharp blue eyes in Technicolor, but this ad needed an editorial sweep before it made it to LIFE magazine. That said, the pearl embellishment on her collar matching her earrings is a nice touch.
June Haver and Jeanne Crain are below, again making a case for being a redhead, which was a pretty great thing to be it seems in the 1950's. June Haver was in a number of 20th Century Fox musicals, sang with Ted Fio Rito's swing band in the 30's, and, most notably in my eyes, was married to Fred MacMurray (underrated! So underrated! And a stone cold cutie to boot). Jeanne Crain was so GORGEOUS in Leave Her to Heaven, but it might have just been a little of the Gene Tierney (who is stupefyingly beautiful in that film) magic rubbing off; I never liked her much in subsequent pictures (Pinky; People Will Talk with Cary Grant... how you can make a boring movie in the 1950's about unwed motherhood with Cary Grant and Mankiewicz at the helm is a mystery to me, but they did it). At least her hair looks perfect in this shot.
Oh la la, Miss Lana Turner! You get 'em, girl!
Doesn't she look just like an angel? The sable blue halter of her dress, the earrings, the brooch, the necklace... she's just shockingly pretty. I remember seeing her for the first time in (not very good, but not awful) The Sea Chase, and her coloring in the Technicolor of that movie, plus a red blouse or coat thrown in just for extra "pop", was very memorable--her petulant little face is one of my very favorites. She was just finishing the Kirk Douglas movie The Bad and the Beautiful when this ad would have come out... one of the BEST "Hollywood-movies-on-Hollywood".
Speaking of favorite faces:
Remember Rita? Her marriage to playboy prince Aly Khan (son of the Aga Khan!) had fallen apart two years earlier, and it was back to pictures for Gilda at the time of this advertisement. Miss Sadie Thompson was the third screen adaptations of W Somerset Maugham's short story about a South Seas prostitute and a minister, after 1928's Sadie Thompson (Gloria Swanson kills it as the title character) and 1932's Rain (I think Joan Crawford's great in it, but I'm only one person,and very biased).
Three stars! One role! Note how the first two depend heavily on harsh makeup, and how Joanie and Rita add skin-tight dresses to the mix.
Last but not least, even MARILYN MONROE isn't immune to appeal of Lustre Creme!!
I love the addition of the hand in this photo-- looks like this ad may be guilty of a little 1950's proto Photoshop by having added in the hand to a pre-existing illustration of MM's head. Oh well. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes... now THERE'S a picture I'm sure we're all familiar with. You just didn't know all the great hairdo's in it were by grace of the gift of liquid shampoo!!
I leave you with this tv spot for Lustre Creme featuring a teenage Sandra Dee (remember the long ago post I did on my much loved Gidget?). "It's terrific!"
What's your favorite celebrity endorsement/product pairing? Til next time!