2008-Jan-10 04:06cigarettes manufacturers were one of the first industries to advertise widely on television. They had deep pockets and could afford to gamble on a new advertising medium, footing the bill for a host of early classic television programs. Ironically, in just a few short decades, they were cast away from the medium they helped create.Almost every television show from the forties through the early-sixties had a primary sponsor each week. To compensate for the relatively low audience numbers TV offered, stars were expected to be seen personally using or endorsing the sponsor's products.As television expanded its reach and proved more effective as a marketing tool, advertisers lined up to buy spots and main sponsor's were no longer required or desired; not having one big sponsor meant less interference in the content of the program.Here are a few examples of how smokes were sold using television personalities and cartoon characters.Topper (1953-1956) was a sitcom that featured the aristocratic Cosmo Topper (Leo G. Carroll) and his piss elegant ghostly visitors George and Marion Kirby (played by Anne Jeffries and Robert Sterling). What else would they be doing with their time off together but smoking?Cosmo really gets into it, he's simply mad about his Camels, "They're mild, the way I like mildness. And they have flavor, the way I like flavor!" It looked more like he was smoking crack!TVparty-er David Mikelberg tells us, "You mentioned that Leo G. Carroll 'looked more like he was smoking crack' in the discount cigarettes. Did you also notice on the credits that the co-writer of that particular episode was Stephen Sondheim? Mama Rose, Sweeney Todd, Cosmo Topper - all just a bit mad. This could explain the look on Carroll's face."At the end of this particular Topper episode, Anne Jeffries declares that free buy cigarettes are going out to injured servicemen in veterans hospitals around the country. Now, that's an industry with a heart. Smoke up boys, doctor's orders!Classic TV commercialsI Love Lucy (1951-1957) was also sponsored by a cheap cigarettes maker for a while, Phillip Morris, who promised their customers, "Smoke for pleasure today. cigarettes hangover tomorrow!" That sponsorship meant added scenes of Lucy and Desi smoking in the program's intro and the "Call for Phillip Moooriiiiuuss" kid in commercial transitions.In this advertisement, Desi asks for a cigarette and Lucy happily fetches the Phillip Morris - "You see how easy it is to keep your man happy?" she confides. You also get to see what the closing to the show really looked like, the heart image we're used to seeing on reruns was created in the late-fifties for the syndication package.Old Gold cigarettes online of TV's first stars was the Old Gold dancing cigarettes pack of the early 1950s, a truly bizarre advertising concoction - an oversized cigarettes pack with lovely legs that danced aimlessly around in front of a curtain while the announcer promised a taste, "made by tobacco men, not medicine men." Because if you're going to ingest something into your lungs, better it was sanctioned by a North Carolina dirt scratcher than some high falutin' doctor, right?Jeanne Snow tells us about being a dancing cigarettes: "My dancing career is so long behind me but the Old Gold commercial keeps coming up in current TV. I was one of the cigarette packs (with Gloria Vestoff who probably replaced Dixie Dunbar) on Stop the Music with Bert Parks in 1950 & 51 - under my maiden name Jeanne Jones (sometimes Jeannie). Harry Salter was the conductor, Jimmy Nygren the choreographer. Other dancers were Louise Ferrand, Bruce Cartwright and Tom Hansen."Incidentally, we were NEVER called the Dancing Butts & in my tenure, there was no longer a match box."
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