Note: This video shows a March 1989 TV ad for Pepsi entitled “Make a Wish,”
featuring pop music star Madonna singing & dancing. This ad was subsequently
pulled after it generated controversy. See more on this story at link below.
Ad story: This Pepsi ad uses a flash-back storyline opening with Madonna
seated in a parlor watching an old black-and-white home movie of herself as
a young girl at a birthday party. The spot cuts back and forth between the
young Madonna and adult versions in sync with the music set to various dance
scenes – to the young girl in school, to more dancing in a street scene, back to
the girl a little older, another with Madonna dancing among joyful gospel singers,
and then finally to Madonna in the opening parlor scene watching the home
movie seated with a can of Pepsi. There she watches the 8 year-old Madonna
in the black-and-white film at her party, holding a 1950s Pepsi bottle and straw,
about to blow out the candles on her cake. Across the ages, the two Madonnas
toast each other with their respective Pepsis. Then Madonna says to the birth-
day girl, “Go ahead, make a wish.” With that, the little girl blows out the candles
and the film ends. Cut to Pepsi logo and slogan, “A Generation Ahead.”
A poster for the 1965 film version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘The Sound of Music,’ one of many R&H productions that have yielded long-lived economic returns in music, film, and continuing stage productions.
“I see musicals as a very big growth area for investment,” said André de Raaff, chief executive of Imagem Music Groupin April 2009. Mr. de Raaff’s company had just acquired the rights to a mother lode of Broadway hits by music legends Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. Imagem is owned by a giant Dutch pension fund and the European media company CP Masters. The company is believed to have paid some $250-to-$300 million for the rights to the Rogers and Hammerstein treasures. The deal was first reported on April 21, 2009.
Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) and Oscar Hammerstein (1895-1960) were the re- nowned American songwriting team who created a string of popular Broadway musicals in the 1940s and 1950s. “Oscar & Hammerstein,” as they are popularly known, reigned over what is considered the golden age of Broadway. Rodgers did the composing and Hammerstein the writing. The musicals with their songs – and the film versions that typically followed – garnered an impressive array of awards over the years, among them some 34 Tony awards, 15 Academy Awards, two Pulitzer Prizes, and two Grammys. Five of their shows – Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music – became runaway successes and are now regarded as musical icons. The music from these shows – and other Rodgers & Hammerstein work – remains popular among millions around the world and is regarded as a business gold mine.
In the deal that Imagem made, it acquired not only Rodgers & Hammerstein rights, but others as well, covering some 12,000 songs, 900 concert works, 100 musicals, and 200 writers. Among these are compositions by Irving Berlin and Mr. Rodgers’s other collaborator, Lorenz Hart. Irving Berlin’s song “White Christmas” – one of history’s top-selling songs ever – and his hit musical, Annie Get Your Gun, are also included, as are the Rodgers & Hart songs “Pal Joey” and “The Lady is a Tramp.” Imagem made its deal with the New York city-based Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization (RHO), which formerly managed all of this material. Imagem essentially acquired the RHO organization wholesale, retaining its existing management staff.
The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization was created in 1943 to manage the works of Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein.
“The sale represents a transfer of power over one of America’s most famous song catalogs and the licensing rights for future productions of the musicals,” wrote New York Times reporter Patrick Healy. RHO president and executive director, Theodore S. Chapin, who agreed to stay on at RHO, suggested that Imagem’s global reach would help RHO find new licensing deals for their holdings in Europe and Asia. “[S]ince Imagem is global,” he said, “I hope they can help us disseminate the works we represent with a little more moxie.”
Over the years, RHO had run its business fairly conservatively, collecting royalties from tens of thousands of licenses it issued for theatrical productions of R&H works. They also issued thousands of licenses for performances and recordings of their copyrighted songs, musicals, and concert works. Imagem’s deal with RHO covers some 12,000 songs, 900 concert works, 100 musicals and 200 writers. By 1990, for example, RHO was licensing about 3,000 productions a year and its music-publishing division employed about 20 people. RHO had been run in recent years by two Rodgers & Hammerstein heirs – daughters Mary Rodgers Guettel and Alice Hammerstein Mathias, who appeared satisfied with the deal they made with Imagem. Speaking on behalf of the Hammerstein family, Alice Hammerstein Mathias stated: “The collaboration between my father and Richard Rodgers was extraordinary. That they kept everything together, including the management of their copyrights, is a testament to their shared vision, and now that vision will be continued in this promising new venture.” Added Mary Rodgers Guettel: “My father always believed in moving forward. This is a big and wonderful step, and I am thrilled by the new opportunities that André and his team bring to my father’s songs and shows…”
The composer Richard Rodgers, left, and the lyricist Oscar Hammerstein at work in 1953.
Rodgers & Hammerstein
RHO was initially founded by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein in 1943, then for the purpose of controlling their own musicals, and additionally, those of Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, some separate Hammerstein works, and later other properties such as Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun of 1946.
In the early 1940s, by the time Rodgers and Hammerstein came together for their extended collaboration, they had each had separate careers. They were both over 40 by then. Hammerstein had success in the 1920s, helping create stage hits with operetta-style musicals such as Rose-Marie of 1924 and The Desert Song of 1926.
Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart on the cover of Time magazine, Sept 26, 1938.
In 1927, his hit musical Show Boat (with Jerome Kern) broke new ground on Broadway on a number of fronts, becoming the first, as they say, to integrate “book, music and lyrics” into a coherent whole. Show Boat, known for Paul Robeson’s classic performance of “Old Man River,’ also broached social issues, including addictive gambling, alcoholism, racism and interracial marriage. Hammerstein, in fact, would become known as a key innovator and “book writer” on Broadway – making the story, not the songs or the performers, central to the production. Still, by the early 1940s, Hammerstein’s good fortune had evaporated and he went for about ten years without a hit show. Richard Rodgers on the other hand, working with lyricist Lorenz Hart, had composed the scores for a number of hit shows that included, On Your Toes (1936), Babes in Arms (1937), The Boys From Syracuse (1938), Pal Joey (1940), and By Jupiter (1942). More than 80 popular tunes came from those works. Both Rodgers and Hart were featured on the cover of Time magazine in September 1938. But Hart’s health was in decline and he passed away in 1943.
Oscar Hammerstein II on the cover of Time magazine, October 20, 1947.
Rodgers and Hammerstein, who had worked together on occasion in the past, came together again in the early 1940s to work on what would became Oklahoma! This production furthered what Hammerstein had started in Show Boat – focusing on story, and integrating all aspects of the musical around plot and characters. Oklahoma! began the string of major Rodgers & Hammerstein successes, five of which are explored in more detail below. Between them, Rodgers and Hammerstein had a prolific output over the years. Hammerstein wrote an estimated 850 songs; Rodgers composed more than 900. Their work, either seperately or together, is found in more than 40 Broadway musicals, and indirectly in many others, as well as Hollywood films and television adaptations. Hammerstein died at the age of 65 shortly after the opening of The Sound of Music in 1960. Rodgers died in 1979 at age 77.
Rodgers & Hammerstein Gold
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘Oklahoma!’ opened in March 1943 and ran for 2, 212 performances.
Oklahoma!, the first musical written by Rodgers & Hammerstein – about a cowboy and his farm-girl romance in the early 1900s when Oklahoma was a territory – opened on Broadway in March 1943. It was a box-office smash and ran for an unprecedented 2,212 performances. In the decade before Oklahoma!, no Broadway show had run over 500 performances. Oklahoma! is regarded by some as the first real phenomenon in modern Broadway history. Notable songs in the production include: “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’,” “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” “People Will Say We’re in Love,” and “Oklahoma!.” Some of this music appeared on the popular music charts over multiple decades. “People Will Say We’re in Love” was a No.1 song in 1943 and “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” and “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top” also topped the charts. New York Times writer Stephen Holden later observed that this musical “helped to define a national mood of optimistic self-assurance that persisted for two decades, until the assassination of John F. Kennedy. … And perhaps more than any Broadway show before or since, it addressed America’s urban and rural cultures in a language that both could understand.” A 1955 film adaptation starred Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones. The film’s soundtrack was No. 1 on the 1956 album charts. For years the play has enjoyed numerous revivals, national tours, and foreign productions, including one in 1999 starring Hugh Jackman and Josefina Gabrielle in London. Oklahoma! continues to be a favorite play for school and community productions.
Cover of cast album from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘Carousel,’ which first opened on Broadway in April 1945.
Rogers & Hammerstein’s Carousel opened on Broadway on April 1945 and ran for 890 performances. In London, the show opened in June 1950, and ran for 566 performances there. Among Carousel’s notable songs are “If I Loved You,” “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over,” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” The play was adapted for a Hollywood film in 1956 and also a made-for-television special in 1967. The 1956 film version starred Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones. A 1994 Broadway revival won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival.
Carousel, set between 1873 and 1888 in a New England coastal village in the state of Maine, tells the tale of a love affair between Billy Bigelow, a traveling, carefree carnival man, and Julie Jordan, a local factory worker. Billy loses his job just as he learns that Julie is pregnant and, desperately intent upon providing a decent life for his family, he is coerced into being an accomplice to a robbery. Caught in the act and facing the certainty of prison, he takes his own life. When he reaches Heaven, he is denied entry because of his terrible deeds. Years later, Billy is allowed to return to Earth for one day, where he encounters the grown daughter he never knew, now besmirched by her father’s former reputation. Billy seeks to instill in both his daughter and her mother a sense of hope and dignity. When the play first ran, The New York Daily Mirror wrote: “(Carousel is) beautiful, bountiful, beguiling…it is the product of taste, imagination and skill.”. In December 1999, Time magazine named Carousel the Best Musical of the 20th century on its “Best of the Century” list, with the editors adding that Rodgers and Hammerstein “set the standards for the 20th century musical”. Carousel is especially well-regarded in the theater community, and Richard Rodgers called it his favorite musical.
DVD cover of 1958 film version of ‘South Pacific.’
South Pacific, a Rodgers and Hammerstein stage production, opened on Broadway in April 1949. A U.S. tour ran for almost five years in 118 cities from April 1950 through March 1955. Among its popular songs are: “Bali Ha’i,” “Younger than Springtime,” and “Some Enchanted Evening.” Based upon short stories from James A. Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific, Rodgers and Hammerstein, along with co-writer Joshua Logan, won a 1950 Pulitzer Prize for their adaptation. The original production featured Mary Martin as Nellie Forbush a naive young Navy nurse from Arkansas and opera star Ezio Pinza, as Emile de Becque, a French plantation owner. In the story, these two main characters become romantically involved. The story, set in World War II, also involves the frustrations of bored military men stationed on the South Pacific islands with too few women around. Racism is also a part of this story, emerging when Nellie learns that Emile has fathered dark-skinned Polynesian children with a former partner, and another character, Cable, refuses to marry a local Vietnamese girl.
Concert version of ‘South Pacific’ at Carnegie Hall, telecast by PBS in 2006.
The Broadway production of South Pacific was nominated for ten Tony Awards and won all of them, including Best Musical and Best Score. It was the only musical production ever to win all four Tony Awards for acting. The show was a critical and box office hit and also spawned a 1958 film. There were also a number of U.S. and U.K. revivals. In film, Glenn Close, Harry Connick, Jr. and Rade Šerbedžija starred in a 2001 ABC television version of South Pacific. A June 2005 concert version, edited down to two hours, but with all of its music, ran live at Carnegie Hall with stars Alec Baldwin, Reba McEntire, and Brian Stokes Mitchell. This production was also taped and telecast by PBS in April 2006. A recent Broadway revival of South Pacific opened in April 2008 at New York city’s Lincoln Center Theater. This revival won seven Tony Awards, including best musical revival and through early 2009 was still doing a healthy box office. At the show’s 60th anniversary in April 2009, more than a dozen of the remaining cast members from the 1949 production, along with Mary Rodgers, daughter of Richard Rodgers, and Alice Hammerstein, daughter of Oscar Hammerstein, attended a special matinee performance. A national tour based on the 2008 Broadway revival will begin in San Francisco September 2009.
50th anniversary edition DVD for Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘The King and I’.
The King And I opened on Broadway in March 1951 and launched the career of relatively unknown actor named Yul Brynner, who played The King. The story is based on the popular 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam, by Margaret Landon, based on a true story about Anna Leonowens, a Victorian Englishwoman who became the governess to the children of the King of Siam in the 1860s.
Rodgers and Hammerstein had the benefit of a 1946 film version of the novel preceding their own work, which was first proposed as a musical to them by the actress Gertrude Lawrence who wanted and got the leading role. In the production, The King is largely considered to be a barbarian by those in the West, and he seeks Anna’s assistance in changing his image, if not his ways. Although both Anna and King hold fast to their respective traditions and values, they grow to understand and respect one another, and become involved in a unique kind of love story. This Rodgers and Hammerstein production resulted in a number of hit songs, including: “I Whistle a Happy Tune”, “Hello, Young Lovers,” “Getting to Know You,” “We Kiss in a Shadow,” “Something Wonderful,” “I Have Dreamed,” and “Shall We Dance?”
Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-Fat in 1999 film, 'Anna and The King'.
Many credit Rodgers & Hammerstein with creating a fair picture of the orient in this production; a picture of the East with dignity, without resorting to any of the clichés often found in western productions. One reviewer, noting the careful attention to staging, costumes, etc., touted the production as promoting “a flowering of all the arts of the theater”.
In 1956, a Hollywood film adaptation was made starring Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr. It won five Oscars including one for Brynner as Best Actor. The King and I returned to Broadway in 1977 and 1985, and also as a short-lived 1972 TV sitcom, Anna and the King. Yul Brynner, over the course of 34 years, played The King more than 4,600 times, first on stage, then on the big screen, and also on the television series. In the first week of January 1985, as Brynner began his final engagement in the play at the Broadway Theatre, a new Broadway record was set for advance ticket sales in a single week, grossing $1,541,547. Another Hollywood film version, Anna and The King, starring Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-Fat , was produced in 1999, though with many differences from the musical production.
Poster for the 1965 film verison of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘The Sound of Music.’
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music presents the story of the von Trapp family of Austria fleeing their Nazi oppressors during World War II. It was adapted from Maria von Trapp’s autobiography, The Trapp Family Singers. In The Sound of Music, Maria Rainer is the cheerful teacher to Georg von Trapp’s seven children, who also helps lead the family to safety over the Alps to Switzerland in flight from the Nazis. The Sound of Music opened on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 16, 1959. It starred Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel. The production left a number of memorable songs, including “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” “Do-Re-Mi,” “My Favorite Things,” “So Long, Farewell,” “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” and “Edelweiss.” On June 15, 1963 The Sound of Music closed at the Mark Hellinger Theatre, New York, after 1,443 performances. The show also had a long run in London, closing on January 14, 1967 at the Palace Theatre after six years and 2,385 performances – one of the longest running American musicals ever in London.
A movie version of The Sound of Music produced in 1965 by 20th Century Fox starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. It won five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. The film premiered at the Rivoli Theatre in New York city in March 1965, where it ran for 93 weeks.In 2005, Box Office Mojo listed The Sound of Music as the third-biggest-gross- ing film of all time at the domestic box office. The movie’s initial run in the U.S. release lasted four-and-a-half years, prompting Variety magazine at the time to proclaim it the “all-time box office champion.” In 2005, Box Office Mojo listed The Sound of Music as the third-biggest-grossing film of all time at the domestic box office, at $911.5 million, adjusted for inflation. Only Gone with The Wind and Star Wars grossed more. When the home video version first became available in 1979, it set sales records and hit the Billboard Top 40 video sales chart, remaining on the chart for more than 300 weeks. Today, The Sound of Music remains one of the top grossing films of all time and is perhaps the world’s most popular musical ever made. The motion picture soundtrack, released by RCA, has sold over 10 million copies worldwide, and home video sales of the film in VHS and DVD formats, have done quite well too.
Over the years, the works of Rodgers and Hammerstein have held up quite well for their musical and production values, although receiving sharp criticism at times for being too sugary and too goody-goody in terms of the social values conveyed. In 1993, New York Times writer Stephen Holden offered this synopsis of the Rodgers and Hammerstein era: “Once upon a time, America dreamed of itself as a singing fairy tale for grown-ups, with a happy ending. Norman Rockwell painted this storybook country, and Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein wrote its songs. More than just pop confections, they added up to a kind of secular catechism that sweetly but firmly instructed people on the rules of behavior in a world where America knew best and good triumphed over evil…”
Rodgers & Hammerstein -- 'too sugary'?
American pop since the mid-1950′s came partly as reaction to the values of Rodgers and Hammerstein. “Certainly rock-and-roll at its rawest represented a spontaneous burst of rebellion by huge segments of American society that found the cultured urbanity of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway songs too sweet, too sophisticated and too pious to speak for them,” offered Holden. Oscar & Hammerstein’s works, in those subsequent years, became for many, too optimistic, too cheerful, too hymnal and churchy, filled with sexual stereotypes, and too professed of American values and hegemony. Yet in their time, those values were mainstream; they were part of the national character, practiced by the majority. By the 1970s and 1980s, of course, Broadway self-corrected, as Hoden notes, producing disturbing and certainly “less-than sugary” works such as Sweeney Todd, Into The Woods, and others.
Holden concluded in his 1993 piece: “The America of Rodgers and Hammerstein – where the good guys won, love conquered all and progress was taken for granted – was itself a dream, a golden bubble of postwar hope and confidence that evaporated more than it burst.” True enough. Yet the Rodgers & Hammerstein works live on in the hearts of many, and still serve the values espoused, tempered, of course, by their own times. Hope and optimism, it seems, even if too sugary, are hard to extinguish. And certainly in terms of musical influence, Rodgers and Hammerstein continue to be heard in the strains of many pop ballads to this day.
Cover of 1996 CD for cast recording of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musical, ‘The King and I’.
The Rodgers & Hammerstein acquisition by Imagem offers a continuing source of economic value for its new owners. Fees from music publishing rights can be collected from a broad range of uses, and many of these are not vulnerable to piracy. While the major record labels have suffered in recent years with declining sales due to changing technology, music publishing rights are still quite lucrative. This part of the music business has held its value far better than recordings. Music publishers make money when songs are played on the radio, in restaurants and bars, and when any version of a song is used in a movie, TV show, video game, or commercial advertisement. Also, other artists singing Rodgers & Hammerstein tunes – called “cover versions” – require license arrangements and yield standard royalties. The Rodgers & Hammerstein properties already have an extensive track record of doing business of one kind or another, and more is expected.
John Coltrane’s 1961 album includes his historic rendition of ‘My Favorite Things.’
“My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music, for example – made popular during its Broadway run and with Julie Andrews in the film version – has been used in advertising. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the song was used in automobile commercials for Mitsubishi. In 2007, it was used in advertisements for the Skoda Fabia, a mini-car produced by Czech auto maker Škoda, owned by Volkswagen. It was also used that year in Master Card ads, one of which featured actress and singer Penelope Fortier.
“My Favorite Things” has also become a jazz standard, with John Coltrane’s album of the same name becoming a historic landmark of sorts, which helped spark the rediscovery of soprano sax. The song has also been performed by a range of artists in jazz and other styles, including: Stanley Jordan, Grant Green, Carmen Lundy, Dave Brubeck, Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, Kenny Rogers, Tanya Tucker, Rod Stewart, Sarah Vaughan, The Supremes, the Gimme Gimmes, Kimiko Itoh, Tony Bennett, 2Pac, Barbra Streisand, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Andy Williams, Luther Vandross, and others.
“Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” another Sound of Music song, was used by Australian Idol contestant Guy Sebastian in 2003 when he performed it on Australian TV in the show’s first season there. Sebastian went on to win, becoming the first Australian Idol, and in 2004 he recorded “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” on his No.1 single, “All I Need Is You.” The Rodgers & Hammerstein song was also adapted for National Australia Bank’s “Confidence” TV ad campaign in 2007.
In 1954, Roy Hamilton’s version of ‘You'll Never Walk Alone’, became an R&B No.1 hit for eight weeks and a national Top 30 hit, boosting Hamilton to fame.
Over the last 60 years, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” – a song from Carousel – has been recorded by dozens of artists, some charting as hit songs in their time of play. Among those covering this song, for example, have been Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Elvis Presley, Roy Hamilton, Johnny Cash, Tom Jones, Renée Fleming, Nina Simone, Gordon MacRae, Ray Charles, Patti Labelle, the Righteous Brothers, Dionne Warwick, and others. The song is also a popular anthem for European soccer teams and has been used to help raise money for disaster victims and hurricane relief. Jerry Lewis has used the song for years during his Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy telethons. It has also been sung by Joan Baez, Marilyn Horne, Patti LaBelle and others in association with AIDS Walk campaigns and rallies in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Chicago. In 2002, opera star Renee Fleming sang “You’ ll Never Walk Alone” at Ground Zero during first year commemoration of the 9/11 attacks. In 2009 she sang it again, this time globally telecast from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama.
“You’ll Never Walk Alone”
When you walk through the storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of the storm
There’s a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of the lark
Walk on, through the wind
Walk on, through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Some Enchanted Evening” from South Pacific was recorded by a succession of popular artists in the first year of its release, 1949, including: Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Jo Stafford, Bing Crosby, Ezio Pinza (original cast recording), and Al Jolson. But in later years as well, others also did versions of the song, including Willie Nelson, Jay and the Americans, and Barbra Streisand. Jon Bon Jovi did it on the Ally McBeal TV show, and even Harrison Ford did a version in the film American Graffiti. “People Will Say We’re in Love” from Oklahoma! has also been covered by dozens of artists, some resulting in early Top 40 hits – Bing Crosby ( No.2), Frank Sinatra ( No. 3) and The Ink Spots ( No. 11). “Hello, Young Lovers” from 1951′s The King and I was covered that year by Perry Como and Guy Lombardo with Kenny Martin. Earl Grant did the song on his 1958 album The End. Bobby Darin did an upbeat swinging version of the song, and Paul Anka had a popular 1960 version in the Bobby Darin style. Frank Sinatra slowed it down on his 1965 album September of My Years. Marvin Gaye has a version in The Marvin Gaye Collection, a boxed set. Philip Quast covered the song on his Live at the Donmar album, as did Mark Murphy on his 1993 album Very Early. In 2004 Kevin Spacey covered the song on his Beyond The Sea soundtrack for his film about Bobby Darin.
Poster art for a production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘Carousel'.
RHO, despite this history of success, has not been the most aggressive marketer of its portfolio’s possibilities. Primarily, it has been content to steadily licence its shows for stage productions, while limiting the exposure of its classic works in an attempt to protect their value.
It is known, however, that there is increasing demand for use of R&H material in film and television. But in the past, RHO has usually denied these kinds of uses because they sought to uphold the artistic integrity of their work, only licensing it for theatrical production and concerts. Imagem, on the other hand, is expected to seek a fuller range of marketing options.
Imagem’s Playlist Sample List*
“Love & Affection” - Joan Armatrading “As Long As You Love Me”
- Backstreet Boys “Think Twice” - Celine Dion “Numb” - Linkin Park “Take A Bow” - Rihanna “When The Going Gets Tough” - Billy Ocean “You Are Not Alone” - Michael Jackson “Ray Of Light”
- Madonna “Karma Chameleon” - Culture Club “Baby One More Time” - Britney Spears “American Idol Theme” - American Idol “Since You’ve Been Gone” - Kelly Clarkson “Rock Your Body” - Justin Timberlake “I Believe I Can Fly” - R. Kelly “Who Do You Think You Are?” - Spice Girls “All Summer Long” - Kid Rock “Run To The Hills” - Iron Maiden “Thunder in My Heart” - Leo Sayer
____________________ *Imagem Music Group holds rights
to about 100,000 songs. Source: www.imagem-music.com
Imagem, however, is something of a newcomer to the global music and entertainment industry. It was founded in 2008 by ABP, one of the world’s biggest pension funds ($223 billion), in conjunction with Dutch independent music publisher and media company CP Masters. ABP is the pension fund for some 2.6 million persons and employers who work for the Dutch government or its education system. Imagem began building its business by acquiring other music publishing rights and music catalogs. After Universal Music Group bought Bertelsmann’s BMG music-publishing unit, several of its pop music catalogs were spun off to satisfy federal anti-trust regulators – Zomba UK, Rondor UK, 19 Music, and 19 Songs. Imagem picked up these catalogs. Today, Imagem’s collection, includes a number of tunes from pop artists such as those in the box at right, including: Madonna, Linkin Park, Celine Dion, Justin Timberlake and others. From its London location, Imagem manages its back catalog and has a roster of 40 writers creating new music. It also seeks out and signs new talent, recently signing, for example, artists such as Australia’s Jarrad Rogers and the Portico Quartet.
In April 2008, Imagem acquired Boosey & Hawkes, a large classical-music publisher, whose catalog includes works of renowned artists such as, Benjamin Britten, Aaron Copland, Serge Prokofieff, Igor Stravinsky, and Sergei Rachmaninoff. This catalog also includes jazz and other works by artists and composers such as Karl Jenkins, Elliott Carter, John Adams, and Wynton Marsalis. Boosey and Hawkes is also involved in the market for music in advertising and film, where revenues are currently growing at about 30 percent annually per annum, according to Imagem. Other clients at Boosey & Hawkes include orchestras, choirs, record companies, and radio stations.
In the April 2009 deal with RHO, Imagem also acquired works by other artists including Adam Guettel, Sheldon Harnick, Jerome Kern, Stephen Schwartz, Kurt Weill, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and others. RHO had represented Andrew Lloyd Webber in the past, including his musicals Cats, Evita, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. At the time of the deal with Imagem, RHO and Webber’s group were in discussions about continuing that relationship.
Actor Hugh Jackman shown on the cover of a DVD for a 1999 production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘Oklahoma!’.
Imagem’s strategy is one of diversification; assembling a mix of pop, classical, jazz, and show tunes, as well as stage productions and their production rights. Imagem (with Boosey & Hawkes) now owns the rights to more than 200,000 songs and reports annual revenues of about $130 million. The company believes that established songs are one of the safest asset classes around since their usage is relatively constant, generating steady royalty income.
Imagem appears eager and willing to go where other established music business interests will not go, and willing also to spend what others will not. In the recently completed Rodgers & Hammerstein deal, other potential suitors included some of the world’s biggest music publishers, among them, Warner Music Group’s Warner/Chappell Music and Sony Corp.’s Sony/ATV Music Publishing. These two had considered buying RHO, but dropped out of the bidding because they considered it overpriced, especially for a catalog of Broadway songs.
“Our purchase of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization is a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire the publishing and theatrical rights of some of the most beloved shows and songs ever written,” said CEO André de Raaff at the time of the deal. He also added: “I personally believe that the world of musicals in which RHO is a leading player will grow further on a worldwide basis and we look forward to adding value to these rights through long term cultivation and development.”
Patrick Healy, “Rodgers and Hammerstein Catalog Sold,” New York Times, April 22, 2009, p. C-3.
Press Release, “Imagem Music Group Buys R&H – Imagem Music Group Buys Rodgers & Hammerstein, Becoming World’s Leading Independent Music Publisher,” The Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization, Updated, May 22, 2009.
Andrew Lloyd Webber, “The Showmen,” Time, Monday, June 8, 1998.
Mary Martin, co-star of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ‘South Pacific,’ shown on the cover of Life magazine, April 18, 1949, as the show began playing on Broadway.
Tom Petty on the cover of his 1989 single, ‘I Won’t Back Down,’ a popular song for political campaigns.
“I Won’t Back Down” is the first single from Tom Petty’s first solo album, Full Moon Fever, released in 1989. The song was written by Petty and his writing partner at the time, Jeff Lynne. It rose to No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 single’s chart. It also appeared on Billboard’s mainstream and modern tracks charts, which rank radio play. The song’s popularity helped send Full Moon Fever to the multi-million-selling sales club. By October 2000, the album had sold more than five million copies.
A Fighter’s Song
“I Won’t Back Down” says it all in its title; it’s a fighter’s message; he’s standing his ground and he won’t back down. The lyrics — shown below in sources — suggest a struggle against the odds, whatever they might be; and a determined stand against the powers that be, whoever they are. And Petty’s defiant tone in the performance provides just the right touch of attitude.
“I Won’t Back Down” Music Player
The song reaches anyone who has been wronged, as well as those who might be out to prove a point. It has a kind of universal and personal appeal. Plus, it’s good rock ‘n roll. It’s also a perfect song for a political campaign. And not surprisingly, more than a few politicians – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents – have all used it.
The Politics of Song
Politicians, especially in recent years, have begun scouring the pop, country, rap and hip hop music charts for tunes that strike a chord with their would-be supporters. They “borrow” these tunes and use them as theme music during their campaigns, playing them before speeches and at rally locations on the campaign trail. Sometimes, however, they don’t bother asking the artist’s permission to use the songs, or acquire all the requisite legal blessings. Such “oversight” can sometimes lead to embarrassing situations – for both candidate and artist.
Happily, for most of those using Tom Petty’s song in various campaigns over the last decade or so, there have only been only one or two of those awkward situations. Notably in this category, however, was the year 2000 presidential campaign of then Texas Governor W. Bush. Bush had used “I Won’t Back Down” at campaign events during the 2000 race, becoming practically “a fixture” at those events, according to one report. Tom Petty wasn’t happy about that. In early 2000, Tom Petty’s publisher sent George Bush a “cease and desist” letter to stop his campaign from using the song. So, he had his publisher send Bush a “cease and desist” letter. That meant Bush was compelled to stop using the song at his campaign events. Petty did not want the use of his song to be construed as an endorsement of candidate Bush.
Young Tom Petty.
Petty’s publisher, Randall Wixen of Wixen Music Publishing Inc., wrote to Bush in early February 2000 telling him to “immediately cease and desist all uses of the song in connection with your campaign.” Wixen said in his letter to Bush that the use of the song “creates, either intentionally or unintentionally, the impression that you and your campaign have been endorsed by Tom Petty, which is not true.”
About a week later, Michael Toner, a lawyer for Bush’s campaign, wrote back to Wixen, saying: “We do not agree that the mere playing or use of a particular song at a campaign event connotes any impression, either intentionally or unintentionally, of endorsement.” Nevertheless, Toner confirmed that the Bush campaign would not use the song at any future campaign events. “So we backed down,” said Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett, jokingly, to reporter Jake Tapper, then covering the issue for Salon.com.
Dems Like Tune
U.S. Senate candidate Jim Webb at an October 2006 campaign stop in Annandale, Virginia. Photo-Brendan Smialowski/Getty.
On the Democratic side of the aisle, a number of candidates – “fighters” all — had used Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” in their political campaigns. Virginia Democrat Jim Webb, a Vietnam Vet and former Secretary of the Navy who mounted a pugnacious, reform-minded run to win a U.S. Senate seat in 2006, used the Petty song in his campaign. On November 3rd, 2006, right before the election, Webb’s campaign staged a lively outdoor rally with prominent Democrats at Virginia Union University in Richmond. At that rally, Webb took to the stage to the beat of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” Webb won the race over Republican incumbent George Allen.
Another U.S. Senator in 2006, Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey, during his re-election bid, made “I Wont’ Back Down” his campaign’s theme song. It could be heard playing on sound systems from schools to senior centers all across the state. It was played wherever Menendez appeared, usually as he entered the room or took the stage. In some cases, the song was played live by a local band rather than the pre-recorded Tom Petty version.
Senator Menendez campaigning in Trenton, NJ, October 2006. (Photo, Sylwia Kapuscinski/Getty)
In West Deptford, NJ that fall, a local group of senior musicians called The Entertainers was used – four guys that had been playing local gigs for seven years. When the Menendez campaign told the band the Petty song was the song they would be using, the band leader had never heard of it. He then ran out and bought the CD, found the lyrics online, and had The Entertainers rehearse it briefly before Menendez’s appearance. Later that same day, as Menendez was joined by former President Bill Clinton at Essex County College in Newark, the Tom Petty version was back on the sound system. Menendez was 52 at the time of his re-election bid. He was being challenged by Republican Thomas Keane, Jr., a state senator and son of former governor and 9-11 Commission member Thomas Keane. Menendez, the son of Cuban immigrants, had previously served as a school board member, mayor and state legislator before being elected to Congress in 1992. In January 2006, he was appointed by New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine to fill the Senate seat vacated by Corzine to serve as Governor. Menendez then won the seat in the general election that fall, becoming New Jersey’s first elected Hispanic senator. In 2006, he prevailed over Keane and was re-elected to a second term. Tom Petty’s tune, no doubt, played at his victory party.
Cover of Brooke Masters’ 2006 book on Eliot Spitzer.
Some “Backing Down”
Sometimes, however, the political candidates using a particular song come to bad end – certainly, no fault of the song’s artist. In two cases where the Petty song was used prominently in campaigns there came a bit of irony, as the candidates in these instances – both fighters in the populist mold – would unfortunately, “back down.” One was the promising New York Democrat and progressive, Eliot Spitzer, who had used “I Won’t Back Down” in launching his gubernatorial bid and throughout his campaign. The song had played prominently in Buffalo as Spitzer launched his bid, and it was frequently heard on the campaign trail as well.
“I Won’t Back Down” has also been heard in other prominent venues, some political. After Al Gore conceded the 2000 presidential election to George Bush, Tom Petty and other musicians attended a gathering of supporters at Gore’s Vice Presidential home in Washington. Petty performed the song for Gore and his supporters at the gathering.
Petty also played the song as part of the September 21, 2001 benefit telethon for the victims of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Nearly 60 million people in the U.S. watched that televised special, which included celebrities such as Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks, Bruce Springsteen, and Tom Cruise. The song became a bit of a patriotic anthem after the 9-11 attacks. “I Won’t Back Down” was also one of four songs Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers performed during the 2008 Super Bowl halftime show.
Spitzer, as New York Attorney General, had come on like gangbusters, taking on the powerful at every turn, even on Wall Street. And if ever there was a guy who wasn’t going to “back down,” it was Spitzer through and through, with his sights set on Washington and bigger things ahead. But alas, it was Spitzer’s personal peccadilloes and call-girl revelations that brought the later-elected New York Governor down.
A somewhat similar case was that of the formerly, much-admired Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards, who also cultivated the image of a fighter. Edwards speeches were filled with references to fighting corporations and American revolutionaries, often urging his listeners to rise up against special interests. Through 2007 and 2008, Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” could be heard in a repertoire of Edwards campaign songs that fit his themes and underlined his message. In gearing up for the New Hampshire primary in August 2007, for example, Edwards spoke in the town of Hookset. After the event, the campaign played “I Won’t Back Down” as Edwards shook hands of supporters on the way to boarding his “Fighting for One America” campaign bus. However, many months later, after the primaries had ended, Edwards’ revelations about a campaign relationship outside of his marriage helped take him out of the national political arena.
Hillary Clinton celebrates her April 2008 win in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary with Governor Ed Rendell.
Then comes Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton during her hard-fought 2007-08 Democratic presidential primary campaign. In late April 2008, after she had won the Pennsylvania primary, but was nevertheless being urged to drop out of the race given an uphill delegate climb, she emerged at her victory party to Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” And again in June, after a Hillary speech in New York that was not a formal concession speech, “I Won’t Back Down” was piped out over the sound system. Was the candidate sending out a little message of defiance here? Certainly it appeared that way to a few reporters. Nothing wrong with that, however. At least she kept them guessing for a time.
Political candidates come and go, of course, but the music lives on to play in many other battles. Doubtless, Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” will be heard in other campaigns to come. And that’s not a bad thing, as we need all the fighters we can get — or at the very least, those who want to try. So let the music play — especially that which helps bring more folks into the political process.
Jack Doyle, “I Won’t Back Down, 1989-2008,” PopHistoryDig.com, March 7, 2009.
Sources, Links & Additional Information
Cover of Tom Petty’s 1989 album that includes ‘I Won’t Back Down’ track. (also great Versa-Climber / work-out music!).
Frank Bruni, “The 2000 Campaign: Campaign Notebook; A Wistful Bush Reflects On Hearth and Home,” New York Times, Friday, January 28, 2000.
Randall D. Wixen, Wixen Music Publishing, Inc., Calabasas, CA, Letter to Governor George W. Bush, Austin, TX, Re: Tom Petty/”I Won’t Back Down”, February 4, 2000.
Michael E. Toner, General Counsel, George W. Bush for President, Austin, TX, Letter to Randall D. Wixen, Wixen Music Publishing, Inc., Calabasas, CA, Re: Tom Petty/”I Won’t Back Down”, February 11, 2000.
Jake Tapper, “Don’t Do Me Like That: Tom Petty Tells George W. Bush to ‘Back Down’ From Using one of Petty’s Songs at his Events,” Salon.com, September 16, 2000.
Patrick Healy, “Democracy in Action,” New York Times, May 30, 2006.
David W. Chen, with reporting by Jonathan Miller & Nate Schweber, “As Expected, New Jersey Primaries Create Senate Race Between Kean and Menendez,” New York Times, June 7, 2006.
“I Won’t Back Down” Tom Petty & Jeff Lynne
Well I won’t back down,
no I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down
Gonna stand my ground,
won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from
draggin’ me down
Gonna stand my ground,
and I won’t back down
Hey baby, there ain’t no easy way out
Hey I will stand my ground
And I won’t back down.
Well I know what’s right,
I got just one life
In a world that keeps on
pushin’ me around
But I’ll stand my ground,
and I won’t back down
Hey baby there ain’t no easy way out
Hey I will stand my ground
And I won’t back down
No, I won’t back down
________________________ Note: song is longer than appears when full
chorus & recurring refrains are added.
Cynthia Burton, “Menendez: He Has Risen Despite Defying Alliances,”Philadelphia Inquirer October 15, 2006.
Todd Jackson and Michael Sluss, “Senate Hopefuls Still Pounding the Pavement; George Allen Gets an Endorsement and James Webb Trots out Some Democrat Heavyweights,” Roanoke.com, of The Roanoke Times, November 3, 2006.
David W. Chen, “A Fight Song Comes Alive,” New York Times, November 5, 2006.
Peter Nicholas, Edwards Levels Attack on Clinton-era White House,” Los Angeles Times, August 24, 2007, p. A-12.
Adam Nagourney, “Do You Know the Words to the Edwards Fight Song?,” The Caucus Blog, New York Times, December 19, 2007.
Adam Nagourney, “On the Trail: The Edwards Playlist,”New York Times, December 20, 2007.
Sarah Wheaton, “Accompaniments; Theme Songs and Others,” New York Times, February 16, 2008
Imprint ipod Gail Collins, “Hillary’s Smackdown,” New York Times, April 24, 2008.
Kleinheider, “That Ain’t Any Kind Of Concession Speech I Ever Heard Of,” NashvillePost.com, June 3, 2008.
Close-up of Ralph Kramden-Jackie Gleason statue at the August 2000 'TV Land' unveiling in New York city.
Ralph Kramden is the name of a fictional New York City bus driver who starred in the popular 1950s television comedy The Honeymooners. Actor Jackie Gleason played the role of Ralph, who was a memorable, one-of-a-kind character. In the show, Gleason’s Ralph Kramden made $62 a week driving his Madison Avenue bus route. At home, in a small Brooklyn walk-up apartment, where most of the shows were set, Ralph was always coming up with some “get rich” scheme or other venture in which his wife, Alice, and neighbors Ed Norton with wife Trixie, were typically recruited as skeptical and/or uncooperative accomp- lices. The schemes usually ended badly for Ralph, with wife Alice typically adding a final cut of the “I- told-you-so” variety. Alice was played to a T by Audrey Meadows, with equally good performances by Art Carney as Norton and Joyce Randolph as Trixie. Although all of the skits were humorous, and some slapstick, many also had a dramatic component or a pointed lesson that viewers could identify with. The show had a strong “everyman” appeal and following when it first ran in the 1950s, with each of its characters popular among the general public. TV historians often rate the show as one of the best of the early situation comedies.
Statues & Icons
This story is one in an occasional series that will explore how America, and other countries, honor their icons – from famous politicians and military leaders, to movie stars, TV celebrities, and sports heros. Societies have been building statues and monuments to commemorate their famous and beloved figures for thousands of years. But in modern times, even fictional characters, their ranks swelled by cinema and television, are now joining those up on the pedestal, some for purely commercial reasons. As statues and busts, the famous personages are typically cast in outsized proportions, some placed in parks or other public spaces. Still others are found on postage stamps, murals, buildings, near sports arenas, or used in various place names. Not all of those so honored, however, meet with public approval, though some have broad and continuing support. The stories offered in this series will include short sketches on some of these figures – past and present – providing a bit of the history and context on each and how the proposed honor came about.
In recent years the television series came to be owned by the media conglomerate Viacom. Viacom’s cable TV channel, TV Land, began airing The Honeymooners series as part of its classic TV programming. Sometime in 1999, TV Land came up with the idea of developing and erecting statues of some of its fictional TV characters as a way to publicize the network and its shows. The statue for Ralph Kramden became the first of these projects, to be located in New York city at the New York-New Jersey Port Authority Bus Terminal building in mid-town Manhattan. TV Land developed the statue in cooperation with the Jackie Gleason estate and commissioned sculptor Robert DuGrenier to create the likeness.
The statue, which portrays Kramden in his bus driver’s uniform carrying a lunch pail, was formally dedicated at a brief ceremony in August 2000. At the time, the Port Authority management regarded the Gleason-Kramden statue as an art project in its public space, providing a service to its patrons. The statue’s presence at the terminal, said management, would help make commuting more enjoyable for the 185,000 passengers who then came through the depot every day. Cedrick T. Fulton, general manager of the bus terminal, said he envisioned bus passengers stopping to have their pictures taken with the statue. TV Land, for its part, said its Kramden statue was “honoring a public icon.” The cable TV channel paid for the statue, but was not charged a promotional or advertising fee by the Port Authority. Rob Pellizzi, TV Land’s vice president for marketing, indicated that the statue was then part of a larger publicity campaign to promote the show and the cable channel.
Kramden-the-statue at his post outside the entrance to the Port Authority Bus Station. Photo: Flickr.com, wallyg.
TV Land Promo
In addition to the statue, TV Land was then airing television ads with Art Carney’s character from the show, Ed Norton, dancing to the song “Wild Thing,” a hit from the 1960s by the British group The Troggs. As part of this TV Land campaign, some city buses were also painted from top to bottom with scenes from the series, some showing bus driver Kramden behind the wheel. Pellizzi indicated at the time that TV Land was thinking of promoting other shows in “similar partnerships” – with permanent statues placed across the country. They were calling their program “TV Land Landmarks”
“Creating TV Land Landmarks helps us recognize those locations throughout the country that are closely identified with TV that people want to visit,” explained Larry W. Jones, Executive Vice President and General Manager of TV Land in a press statement for the Ralph Kramden ceremony.
...In a different light.
“As Jackie Gleason’s Ralph Kramden character evokes New York City,” Jones continued, “TV Land felt strongly that the Port Authority Bus Terminal was the perfect location from which to kick off this initiative.” Jones added that his company was optimistic about bringing the statues initiative “to other landmarks around the country over the next few years” – projects which TV Land later did pursue. To date, among the shows and characters that TV Land has included at other “landmark” locations are the following: the Mary Tyler Moore Show (Minneapolis, MN), The Andy Griffith Show (North Carolina), The Bob Newhart Show (Chicago), Bewitched (Salem,MA), Elvis Presley’s Aloha from Hawaii show, and the “Fonzie” character from the Happy Days show (Milwaukee, WI). These TV Land statues and landmarks will be profiled in future stories at this website.
Classic kitchen scene from the ‘Honeymooners’ TV show of the 1950s. From left, Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Audrey Meadows, and Joyce Randolph.
Although The Honeymooners ran on CBS for only one season in 1955-1956, the show left a very influential mark on early television and had an extremely loyal following. Some early baby boomer kids also watched the show with their parents. The Honeymooners ranked as the No. 2 TV show during its run, and garnered Emmy Awards for the acting of Audrey Meadows and Art Carney in their supporting roles. In syndication, The Honeymooners series has had a long life, not only in the U.S., but also in many countries around the world. In some markets, the syndicated shows have been aired for decades, almost from the time when the show ended in its original broadcast. Viacom aired the original series, and also some later discovered “lost” episodes, at least from the mid-1980s. Honeymooners episodes also appeared on Showtime, and in more recent years, on the TV Land channel. The episodes in syndication have also been released in VHS and DVD formats.
Double photo from ‘TV Land’ – top showing Ralph driving his bus with cast along for the ride; and at bottom, Alice bringing Ralph his lunch pail.
In August 2000, an unveiling ceremony was held in New York City. Joyce Randolph, who played Ralph Kramden’s neighbor “Trixie” on the show, was one of the special guests. “He loved hoopla,” said Ms. Randolph of Gleason, “and the statue is gorgeous.” Also attending the ceremony were New York transit authority officials. “Who better than Ralph Kramden to greet commuters and bus drivers in front of the place where more than 200,000 commuters and 7,000 buses pass through every day?” said Ken Philmus, director of tunnels, bridges, and terminals. “We think this is a wonderful gift to all the people of New York city.”
Some passers-by that day also watched the dedication. “I like that guy Kramden,” said one construction worker, Tino Riveria, looking on at the dedication. “He was a big mouth, but there are millions of big mouths in New York. So naturally, people here are going to identify with him.” Another observer was Ruthie Escalante, a record store clerk. She told a reporter that Kramden’s nonstop battles with his wife – and reconciliation at the end of each show — came about as close to defining married life as anything she had seen on television. “Gleason really told it like it is,”she said. “And I watch the reruns all the time with my husband. It is a ritual.”
Ralph Kramden with lunch pail, surveys Manhattan’s busy streets and the comings and goings of thousands of daily commuters. Photo: pbase.com, Hubert J. Steed.
TV Land, however, was not the first to honor Jackie Gleason and Ralph Kramden in a public venue. In 1988, one of the New York city bus service depots in Brooklyn was renamed the “Jackie Gleason Bus Depot.” All buses that originate from that depot bear a sticker on the front that has a logo derived from the “face on the moon” opening logo that ran on The Honeymooners opening credits. The MTA also renumbered one of its busses to 2969 and made it the “official Jackie Gleason bus.” There is also a statue of Jackie Gleason in his Ralph Kramden bus driver’s attire at the Academy of Television Arts & Science’s Hall of Fame in North Hollywood, California. That statue, however, is posed in Gleason’s famous “and away we go” stance, which he often did at the opening of his TV variety show. The North Hollywood statue also pre-dates TV Land replica.
The eight-foot, 1,000-pound likeness of Ralph Kramden/Jackie Gleason is found today at the 40th Street and 8th Avenue terminal entrance. The plaque on the base of the statue reads:
“Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden: Bus Driver – Raccoon Lodge Treasurer – Dreamer. Present- ed by the People of TV Land.”
Close-up detail, other view, Kramden statue.
As of 2008, the Port Authority Bus Station served some 7,200 buses and about 200,000 people on an average weekday. Over 3 billion passengers have used the building since it began operation in 1950.
Dean E. Murphy, “Hey, Norton, Get a Load of Ralphie Boy,” New York Times, August 26, 2000.
“Ralph Kramden Statue,”TV Acres.com.
Stephen M. Silverman, “Ralph Kramden Home to Roost,” People.com, August 26, 2000.
PR Newswire, New York, “TV Land Honors Ralph Kramden – America’s Most Famous Bus Driver – With Statue at Port Authority Bus Terminal,” August 28, 2000.
“Gotham Honors A Heavyweight,” CBS, New York, August 28, 2000.
Another scene from the 'Honeymooners' set.
“Gleason Gets Statue In New York,” TV Land, studio briefing, August 29, 2000.
Josh Getlin, “Ralph Kramden Statue By Windsor Sculptor Is Unveiled in New York,” Los Angeles Times, August 29, 2000.
See also Honeymooners.net, described as “a site with everything you could possibly want to know about the classic sitcom.” Registration required.
TV Land’s website had previously offered a 360-degree virtual tour of the Ralph Kramden statue in its setting, and also included a brief promotional film clip on the statue. However, much of that has since been taken down, now replaced by a brief narrative description.
Honeymooners’ stars Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows on ‘TV Guide’ cover, week of May 21-27, 1955.
Norman Rockwell’s ‘Rosie The Riveter’ cover for the May 29, 1943 edition of The Saturday Evening Post, was the first visual image to incorporate the ‘Rosie’ name.
“Rosie the Riveter” is the name of a fictional character who came to symbolize the millions of real women who filled America’s factories, munitions plants, and shipyards during World War II. In later years, Rosie also became an iconic American image in the fight to broaden women’s civil rights.
After the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and the full involvement of the U.S. in World War II, the male work force was depleted to fill the ranks of the U.S. military. This came precisely at a time when America’s need for factory output and munitions soared. The U.S. government, with the help of advertising agencies such as J. Walter Thompson, mounted extensive campaigns to encourage women to join the work force. Magazines and posters played a key role in the effort to recruit women for the wartime workforce.
Saturday Evening Post cover artist, Norman Rockwell, is generally credited with creating one of the popular “Rosie the Riveter” images used to encourage women to become wartime workers. Rockwell’s “Rosie,” shown at right, appeared on the cover of the May 29th,1943 edition of The Saturday Evening Post. The Post was then one of the nation’s most popular magazines, with a circulation of about 3 million copies each week. In addition to Rockwell’s Rosie, however, another image would become the more commonly known “Rosie the Riveter” image.
J. Howard Miller's 'We Can Do It!' poster was commissioned by Westinghouse and shown briefly in February 1942.
In 1942, Pittsburgh artist J. Howard Miller was hired by the Westinghouse Company’s War Production Coordinating Committee to create a series of posters for the war effort. One of these posters became the famous “We Can Do It!” image — an image that in later years would also become “Rosie the Riveter,” though not intended at its creation. Miller based his “We Can Do It!” poster on a United Press photograph taken of Michigan factory worker Geraldine Doyle. Its intent was to help recruit women to join the work force. At the time of the poster’s release the name “Rosie” was not associated with the image. The poster – one of many in Miller’s Westinghouse series – was not initially seen much beyond one Midwest Westinghouse factory where it was displayed for two weeks in February 1942. It was only later, around the 1970s and 1980s, that the Miller poster was rediscovered and became famous as “Rosie The Riveter.” But both images of Rosie – Rockwell’s and Miller’s – were used to help enlist women in the WWII workforce. In later years, and in fact up to present times, these images have became iconic symbols of women’s rights struggles, and are occasionally adapted for other political campaigns as well. But it was during the World War II years that “Rosie the Riveter” got her start.
“Rosie the Riveter” Song Lyrics
While other girls attend their fav’rite
Sipping Martinis, munching caviar
There’s a girl who’s really putting
them to shame
Rosie is her name
All the day long whether rain or shine
She’s a part of the assembly line
She’s making history,
working for victory
Rosie the Riveter
Keeps a sharp lookout for sabotage
Sitting up there on the fuselage
That little frail can do more than a
male will do
Rosie the Riveter
Rosie’s got a boyfriend, Charlie
Charlie, he’s a Marine
Rosie is protecting Charlie
Working overtime on the
When they gave her a production “E”
She was as proud as a girl could be
There’s something true about
Red, white, and blue about
Rosie the Riveter
Everyone stops to admire the scene
Rosie at work on the B-Nineteen
She’s never twittery, nervous or jittery
Rosie the Riveter
What if she’s smeared full of
oil and grease
Doing her bit for the old Lendlease
She keeps the gang around
They love to hang around
Rosie the Riveter
Rosie buys a lot of war bonds
That girl really has sense
Wishes she could purchase
Putting all her cash into national
Senator Jones who is “in the know”
Shouted these words on the radio
Berlin will hear about
Moscow will cheer about
Rosie the Riveter!
_____________________ Paramount Music Corporation, NY,
1942. Listen to song at NPR.
First, The Song
Rosie the Riveter appears to have come first in song, not in art. In 1942, a song titled “Rosie the Riveter” was written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb and was issued by Paramount Music Corporation of New York. The song was released in early 1943 and was played on the radio and broadcast nationally. It was also performed by various artists with popular band leaders of that day. The song became quite popular, particularly one version recorded by the Four Vagabonds, an African-American group — a version that caught on and rose on the Hit Parade. It seems likely that Saturday Evening Post artist Norman Rockwell heard this song, and possibly was influenced by it, especially since he wrote the name “Rosie” on the lunch box in his painting.
In the Post’s cover illustration, Rockwell’s Rosie is shown on her lunch break, eating a sandwich from her opened lunch pail as her riveting gun rests on her lap. A giant American flag waves behind her. Rosie appears content, gazing off into the distance. However, Rockwell portrays her with some important details, from the lace handkerchief visible in her right hand pocket, to her foot placed smack on the cover of Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf at the bottom of the painting. But there was also something else in Rockwell’s Rosie.
The “Isaiah Effect”
In early June 1943, after The Saturday Evening Post cover of Rosie had hit the newsstands and had been widely circulated, the Kansas City Star news- paper ran images of Rockwell’s Rosie alongside of Michelangelo’s Isaiah from his Sistine Chapel ceiling painting. The splash in the Star drew a lot more attention to Rockwell’s Rosie. Followers of Rockwell’s illustrations in those years knew well his penchant for touches of humor and satire.
In more recent years, reviewers of Rockwell’s Rosie have added their interpretations and observations. “Just as Isaiah was called by God to convert the wicked from their sinful ways and trample evildoers under foot,” wrote one Sothebys curator in a May 2002 review, “so Rockwell’s Rosie tramples Hitler under her all-American penny loafer.” Rockwell had used a petite local woman as a model for his Rosie, but he took liberties with her actual proportions to make his Rosie appear as a more powerful, Isaiah-like figure. “Righteousness is described throughout Isaiah’s prophecy as God’s ‘strong right arm’,” continued the Sotheby’s reviewer, “a characterization that must surely have occurred to [Rockwell] as he portrayed Rosie’s muscular forearms.” Rockwell’s Rosie also has a halo floating just above the pushed-back visor on her head. Rockwell had fun with his paintings, using some irreverent humor here and there, but also including the necessary serious messages and patriotic tone.
Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post Rosie was widely disseminated during the war. In addition to the magazine’s 3 million-plus circulation, Rockwell’s Rosie was also displayed in other publications, including The Art Digest of July 1, 1943. Rockwell’s original “Rosie” — donated to the U.S. War Loan Drive — briefly went on a public tour. However, Rockwell’s image of Rosie might have enjoyed an even wider circulation had it not been for the actions of the magazine’s publisher, Curtis Publishing. Curtis initially used the phrase “Rosie the Riveter” on posters it distributed in 1943 to news dealers throughout the United States advertising the Post issue with Rockwell’s painting on the cover. However, according to author Penny Colman, within a few days, Curtis sent telegrams to the news dealers ordering them to destroy the poster and return a notarized statement attesting to the fact that they had. Curtis issued its retraction because it feared being sued for copyright infringement of the recently released song “Rosie the Riveter.” Rockwell’s painting of Rosie was then donated to the U.S. Treasury Department’s War Loan Drive, and then went on a tour for public display in various cities across the country.
A ‘Wendy-the-Welder’ in 1940s’ shipbuilding at Richmond, CA.
Real Life Rosies
In June 1943, about two weeks after Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post cover appeared on newsstands, the press picked up the story of a woman worker named Rose Bonavita-Hickey. She and partner Jennie Florio, drilled 900 holes and placed a record 3,345 rivets in a torpedo-bombing Avenger aircraft at the former General Motors Eastern Aircraft Division in North Tarrytown, New York. Hickey’s feat was recognized with a personal letter from President Roosevelt, and became identified as one of many real-life “Rosie the Riveters.” Other women workers doing riveting — as well as others generally who were filling heavy-industry “men’s” jobs all across the nation – e.g., “Wendy-the-welders,” etc. – also gained media attention during the war years.
WWII-era photo showing Dora Miles and Dorothy Johnson at Douglas Aircraft Co. plant in Long Beach, CA.
Sybil Lewis, an African-American riveter who worked for Lockheed Aircraft in Los Angeles, would later provide this description of women riveters:
“The women worked in pairs. I was the riveter and this big, strong, white girl from a cotton farm in Arkansas worked as the bucker. The riveter used a gun to shoot rivets through the metal and fasten it together. The bucker used a bucking bar on the other side of the metal to smooth out the rivets. Bucking was harder than shooting rivets; it required more muscle. Riveting required more skill.”
In early August 1943, Life magazine featured a full cover photograph of a woman steelworker, along with an inside photo-story spread of other “Rosie” steelworkers, some quite dramatic. The photographs were taken by Margaret Bourke-White, the famous Life photojournalist who was the first female war correspondent and the first woman to be allowed to work in combat zones during World War II.
Life magazine cover photo of August 9, 1943 shows steelworker Ann Zarik at work with her torch.
Bourke-White had spent much of WWII in the thick of things overseas, but also managed to do domestic stories such as the “Women in Steel” spread, which included at least a dozen photographs displayed in Life’s August 9, 1943 edition. These photos captured women at work in the American steel industry, including some taken at Tubular Alloy Steel Corp. of Gary, Indiana and Carnegie-Illinois Steel Company. Some of the photos showed the women wielding torches and working on heavy plate and structural steel with sparks flying, with others working in midst of giant steel caldrons that carried the molten steel. A display of these and other Rosie photographs, culled from the Life magazine archive, can be seen at “The Many Faces of Rosie The Riveter, 1941-1945.”
Need More Women
The government, meanwhile, continued to call for more women in the workforce. They needed women to work in all kinds of jobs, not just those in munitions plants or military-related factory work. By September 1943, the Magazine War Guide was asking magazine publishers to participate in a “Women at Work Cover Promotion.” They wanted publishers and others to push all kinds of employment as vital “war jobs.” Everyday “civilian jobs” were vital, too, not just the factory jobs. The slogan for this promotion was: “The More Women at Work the Sooner We Win.”
Norman Rockwell’s portrayal of American ‘liberty girl’ in her ‘jack-of-all-trades’ mode, capable of doing many kinds of civilian jobs to help the War effort – September 4, 1943, Saturday Evening Post.
The Saturday Evening Post used Norman Rockwell again to produce a cover for this campaign – a cover that appeared on its September 4th, 1943 issue. It was entitled “Rosie To The Rescue.” For this cover, Rockwell created a “liberty girl” dressed in patriotic clothes but cast as a jack-of-all-trades composite, capable of doing any number of civilian jobs – nurse, mechanic, telephone operator, milkman, farmer, etc. This “liberty girl” image did not resonate the same way that Rosie did, but Rockwell and the publishers were still doing their part for the War effort.
Rockwell and The Saturday Evening Post were only part of a much bigger campaign to move women into the workplace. Motion pictures, newspapers, radio, museums, employee publications, and in-store displays were all involved. Some 125 million advertisements were produced as posters and full-page magazine ads.
Fine print reads: ‘Uncle Sam Needs Stenographers. Get Civil Service Information at Your Local Post Office.’
In fact, the govern- ment was quite direct about the propa- ganda campaign it needed to mount. According to the Basic Program Plan for Womanpower in the Office of War Information, for example: “These jobs will have to be glorified as a patriotic war service if American women are to be persuaded to take them and stick to them. Their importance to a nation engaged in total war must be convincingly presented.”
A 'WOW' was a 'Woman Ordinance Worker.'
Some promotional films were produced as well. Hollywood actor Walter Pidgeon, working for the government War Bond effort, made a short film promoting the war effort in which he recruited a real “Rosie the Riveter” worker named Rose Will Monroe whom he met while touring Ford Motor’s Willow Run aircraft factory. The short film was shown in theaters between featured films to encourage viewers to buy War Bonds. Unrelated to the War Bond effort, a Hollywood movie called Rosie the Riveter was also made in 1944; it was a B-grade romantic wartime comedy made by Republic studios with Jane Frazee as Rosie Warren who worked in an airplane factory.
Female trainees at Middletown, PA, 1944. The Middletown Air Service Command stockpiled parts and overhauled military airplanes. During WWII, Middletown’s workforce grew from 500 to more than 18,000, nearly half of them women.
The women who responded to “Rosie’s call” during the 1940s’ war years did all kinds of work. In 1942, the Kaiser shipyards opened in Richmond, California, becoming a major shipbuilding center for the war effort. A woman named Bethena Moore from Derrider, Louisina was one of thousands who came to work there. In Louisiana, she had been a laundry worker. A small woman of 110 pounds, Bethena was one of the workers who would climb down into the bowels of ships – sometimes four stories in depth – on a narrow steel ladder, tethered to a welding machine. She did the welds on the ships’ double-bottoms. “It was dark, scary,” she later recounted to a New York Times reporter in October 2000. “It felt sad, because there was a war on. You knew why you were doing it – the men overseas might not get back. There were lives involved. So the welding had to be perfect.”
Woman working inside the tail of a B-17 aircraft at Boeing production line in Seattle, WA, 1940s.
Phyllis McKey Gould was another worker at the Richmond, California Kaiser shipyard No. 2. She worked as a welder there, later recalling the work she did: “I’d never worked in my life,” she said. “I loved the look of welding, the smell of it… You’d look through really dark glass and all you’d see was the glow. You moved the welding rod in tiny, circular motions, making half-crescents. If you did it right, it was beautiful. It was like embroidery.” At the war’s height, women, many of them African-American, made up more than a quarter of the Richmond shipyards’ 90,000 workers.
Women welders in New Britain, Connecticut, 1943.
In Maine during the early 1940s, Dorothy “Dot” Kelley was recently divorced, out on her own, and raising four children. After seeing women from the Portland shipyard cashing $600 checks, she quit her job at a Montgomery Ward department store and went to work at the South Portland Shipyards. She worked there helping build ships from 1942 until the shipyard closed in 1945. She worked nights so her days could be free for her children. Dot and other the women welders wore heavy clothes against the cold, and they wriggled into the ships’s tight spaces to weld its seams together. Her neck and chest became spotted with tiny burn marks from the sparks – common to other welders as well. But after the war ended, Dot Kelley was forced to work two jobs, and her children were sometimes left to fend for themselves at home. She was determined, however, to keep working and keep her family together. She lived to be 94 years old, and through her daughter, National Public Radio told her story in a December 2006 broadcast.
Women working at the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, 1940s.
In Georgia, Eloise Strom, a young mother of two young boys, rose every morning before dark and rode an hour and a half in a car pool with five other women to go to work at the aircraft plant in Marietta. Some worked in the office, others worked in production. In the early 1940s the plant was called the “Bell Bomber plant,” later to become Lockheed-Martin. During WWII, it employed some 28,263 workers at its peak — about 10,000 of them women. It then paid well above the minimum wage. The factory produced B-29 bombers – some 668 in all. The B-29s were used mainly in the Pacific Theater to bomb Japan; they had a longer range than the B-17s used in Europe. The Marietta plant not only reshaped the work force, it also transformed Marietta from a sleepy town of 8,000 into a booming industrial center.
Sante Fe Railroad ad singing the praises of its women workers.
Near Hunstville, Ala- bama, a military ordinance complex known as the Redstone Arsenal, also used women throughout its facilities. By December 1942, about 40 percent of Redstone production line employees were women, and that share would rise to 60 percent or more on some production lines by war’s end. Dealing with munitions, chemicals, and other dangerous substances, the jobs at Redstone entailed a degree of risk, and several women were killed there during the WWII years, with a number of others injured.
In Michigan, at Ford Motor Co., more than 30 percent of Ford workers in 1943 in the machining and assembly departments were women. Women at Ford plants built jeeps, B-24 aircraft, and tractors. They also became test pilots for the B-24s. And they operated drill presses, welding tools, heavy casting machinery and riveting guns.
The Sante Fe Railroad also used women in war-time jobs. One of the company’s wartime ads explained in part: “…Right now, thousands of Santa Fe women are doing war-vital work to ‘keep-em-rolling’. Many of them are pitching into ‘unglamourous jobs’… greasing engines, operating turntables, wielding a shovel, cleaning roller bearings, working in blacksmith and sheet metal shops. They take pride in their work too!” A small inset box in the ad also read: “Another chapter in the story ‘Working for Victory on the Sante Fe’.”
Marilyn “Rosie” Monroe
Marilyn Monroe, before she became a Hollywood star, appeared in a series of airplane factory photos in June 1945 that led to her becoming a model and film star.
One of the “Rosies” during the WWII years was none other than Marilyn Monroe – well before she became “Marilyn the Hollywood star,” however. In the 1945 photo at right, Marilyn was then the 19 year-old Norma Jean Dougherty working at the Radioplane munitions factory in Burbank, California. Monroe was then married to Merchant Marine seaman James Dougherty, whom she had wed in Los Angeles in June 1942. In 1943, after Dougherty joined the U.S. Merchant Marine and was sent overseas in 1944, Monroe started work at the Radioplane plant, where she was “discovered” by an Army photographer. In the summer of 1945, Capt. Ronald Reagan of the Army`s 1st Motion Picture Unit, sent 26-year-old private David Conover, a professional photographer, on an assignment for Yank magazine, the Army weekly. Conover was sent to the Radioplane plant to shoot morale-boosting photographs of pretty girls doing their job to help the war effort, none of which were used by Yank. (There have been some discrepancies on this point, as Yank did a prior story, “Women in Industry,” published in December 22, 1944. But apparently no photo of Norma Jean Dougherty was ever used by Yank). Conover, on his first encounter with Marilyn at the factory, would later write: “I moved down the assembly line, taking shots of the most attractive employees. None was especially out of the ordinary. I came to a pretty girl putting on propellers and raised the camera to my eye. She had curly ash blond hair and her face was smudged with dirt. I snapped her picture and walked on. Then I stopped, stunned. She was beautiful. Half child, half woman, her eyes held something that touched and intrigued me.”
Another of David Conover's photos of 19 year-old Norma Jean Dougherty.
Conover introduced himself to Monroe, and there began a professional relationship. Monroe’s appearance and natural ease in front of the camera captivated Conover. He would later write that she had “a luminous quality in her face, a fragility combined with astonishing vibrancy.” Upon hearing that she wanted to become an actress, he told her that she would need to become a model, and then spent the next two weeks snapping photos of her, and coaching her on how to pose and “address” the camera. Thereafter, Conover was sent to the Philippines and the two lost touch. Monroe, meanwhile, moved out of her mother-in-law’s home, stopped writing to her husband, James Dougherty, and filed for divorce in 1946. Dougherty later remarried after the war in 1947 and joined the Los Angeles Police Department. In 1950, he was one of the police officers who held back the crowd at the premiere of Monroe’s movie, The Asphalt Jungle. It was not until 1953 that photographer David Conover learned that Norma Jean Dougherty had become movie star Marilyn Monroe, who would later credit Conover with having “discovered” her. Tutor and student were reunited in 1953 on the set of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. To learn more about the Conover-Monroe photos, read Conover`s 1981 book, Finding Marilyn. See also at this website, a short story about Elton John’s tribute song to Monroe, “Candle in the Wind.”
Opening The Door
Mexican American women workers on the Southern Pacific Railroad during WW II.
During the WWII years, the government’s war-related “get-women-to-work” campaigning opened the door to women in the workforce, setting off a key change for women’s civil rights and altering the demographics of the workforce in later years. At the end of December 1941, there were about 13 million women at work. Rosie the Riveter and other campaigns helped to increase that number grow to 15 million in early 1943. By 1944, there were 20 million women in the workforce, with 6 million of those working in factories.
Although many of the jobs held by women during WWII were initially returned to men after the war ended, the workforce would never be the same again. Sybil Lewis, who worked as a Lockheed riveter during those years stated: “You came out to California, put on your pants, and took your lunch pail to a man’s job. This was the beginning of women’s feeling that they could do something more.” Inez Sauer, who worked as a Boeing tool clerk in the war years, put it this way:
“My mother warned me when I took the job that I would never be the same. She said, ‘You will never want to go back to being a housewife.’ At that time I didn’t think it would change a thing. But she was right, it definitely did. . . . at Boeing I found a freedom and an independence that I had never known. After the war I could never go back to playing bridge again, being a club woman . . . when I knew there were things you could use your mind for. The war changed my life completely. I guess you could say, at thirty-one, I finally grew up.”
Women at Douglas aircraft plant during WWII.
Women discovered a new sense of pride, dignity and independence in their work and their lives. Many realized their work was just as valuable as men’s, though for years, and to this day, an earnings disparity still exists. During the war years, however, a number of women workers joined unions, gaining major new benefits from labor representation. Black and Hispanic women also gained entry to major industrial plants, factory and other jobs throughout the country. But the fight for equal rights in the workplace and equal pay for women was just beginning, and would be fought over many years following WWII.
America’s working women were praised during the war, but when the war ended they were encouraged to return to homemaking.
As the women’s rights movement emerged in the 1970s, Rosie the Riveter imagery was called upon for use in campaigning and popular literature. By the 1980s, the historical importance of the WWII “Rosie workers” began to be revisited in books and film. One documentary film entitled, The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter, was made by Connie Field, who originally got the idea for the film after attending a California Rosie-the-Riveter reunion. The film, released in September 1981, is based on extensive research and some 700 interviews. It profiles five females who were working in low-paying jobs before the war and become wartime workers. The five “Rosies” recall their WW II-era experiences working in Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. Their stories are interwoven with archival recruitment films, stills, posters, ads, and music from the period.
The film’s views contrast with some of the popular legends and mythology surrounding the Rosies of WW II, including the fact that many Rosies were denied opportunities to continue working once the war ended. The film is regarded as one of the best accounts of women working in heavy industry in World War II, and also of home-front life during those years. In the film’s first year, some 1 million viewers saw it, a very high number for a documentary. It has also won various film festival prizes and was dubbed into six languages. In 1996, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
Rosie stamp, circa 1999.
‘When America marched off to war, the women marched into the factories,’ says this 1984 movie promo. ‘From then on...nothing was ever the same again.’
In 1984, Goldie Hawn’s Hollywood film, Swing Shift, made with Warner Brothers, also built its storyline around the Rosie workers of World War II. That film also starred Christine Lahti, Kurt Russell, Fred Ward and Ed Harris. Swing Shift focuses more on the personal relationships of its WW II-era female workers played by Hawn and Lahti while their husbands are away in the war. This film, however, also fairly portrayed what happened to women workers at the war’s end as male workers returned and the female workers were no longer needed. In the 1990s, Rosie the Riveter imagery and stories continued to pop up in various venues. Smithsonian magazine did a story on WWII era Rosie poster art in its March 1994 edition, putting the J. Howard Miller “We Can Do It” Rosie on the cover. In November 1998, the U.S. Postal Service authorized a new first-class postage stamp honoring the WW II-era working women, also using the “We-Can-Do-It!” Rosie.
Rosie, the action figure.
And by this time, too, there was all manner of Rosie-the-Riveter para- phernalia available – from T-shirts to Rosie action figures and bobble head dolls. The Rosie action figure, for example, is a five-inch, all-plastic toy replica with moveable arms, legs and head. It also comes with a lunch box and a “riveting action” rivet gun. One of the toy’s merchants – having a little fun with his promotion – offered the following play scenarios: “…You can use her [Rosie] to beckon your Barbies out of their mansions and into the factories to do their part for the US of A. …Or, you can ignore her historical significance and pit her against your WWF [World Wrestling Federation] action figures in a cage match battle extreme!”
Back in the real world, however, thousands of older Rosies who had actually worked in the wartime production frenzy, were getting up in years, and many were recalling their experiences in their wartime jobs. Some were having reunions, while others began communicating with one another. In 1998, the “American Rosie the Riveter Association” was formed in Warm Springs, Georgia and is today headquarterd in Birmingham, Alabama. By 2004 this organization had 1,400-members. In California, meanwhile, something else was afoot: a National Park (follows below the Rockwell sidebar).
Rockwell’s Rosie & Beyond
Over the years, Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter has generally yielded in popularity to the J. Howard Miller/Westinghouse “We Can Do It!” poster girl. Copyright restrictions on Rockwell’s Rosie in subsequent years meant it was less frequently reproduced. The Miller/Westinghouse poster image, on the other hand, was without such copyright limitations, and over the years, appeared in numerous forms – on coffee mugs, magnets, t-shirts, and mouse pads. Still, Rockwell’s original painting had some interesting travels. …By the 1990s, certainly, Rockwell’s body of work had received serious attention of historians and art critics alike… And in the art world, Rockwell’s Rosie enjoyed a considerable following. In the 1940s, after Rockwell’s painting was donated to the government War Bond effort, it went on public tour, as did other works of art during those years. Items on these tours were sometimes offered as prizes in raffles as a way to increase public interest and contributions for the war effort. Reportedly, at one of those events – believed to have been when the painting was displayed at the Strawbridge & Clothier store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Rockwell’s original Rosie was raffled off and won by a Mrs. P. R. Eichenberg of Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania. After that, the painting appears to have been acquired by the Chicago Pneumatic Tool Co. on E. 44th St. in New York city, where it was hung in a display window next to a placard explaining Rosie’s history. Also included in that window display were some riveting hammers identical to the one Rockwell’s painting placed in Rosie’s lap. After its window display, it appears that Rosie was held by Martha Parrish and James Reinish of New York.
Rockwell's Rosie: sold for millions.
By the 1990s, certainly, Rockwell’s body of work – for The Saturday Evening Post and elsewhere – had received serious attention of historians and art critics alike. Rockwell captured the best of America with his brush, also exploring patriotic subjects. “Rockwell’s pictures often honored the American spirit,” wrote Judy Larson and Maureen Hart Hennessey in their 1999 book, Norman Rockwell: Pictures for the American People. “Particularly during times of crisis, Rockwell created images that communicated patriotism and unquestioned allegiance to the United States.” Others would write that his Rosie the Riveter was a testament to the indomitable strength of the American spirit during one of the nation’s most challenging times. “Rosie’s cool self confidence, sheer physical might, and unwavering support of her country,” said one, “parallel the strength, determination and patriotism of the American people.”
Sometime in the year 2000, the original Rockwell Rosie painting was sold to an anonymous collector for $2 million. By 2002, that collector decided to sell. In the meantime, Rockwell’s Rosie had been part of an all Norman Rockwell exhibition entitled “Norman Rockwell: Pictures for the American People,” which had run at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York from November 1999-February 2002. In 2002, Rockwell’s Rosie was sold at Sotheby’s for $4.95 million. Rockwell’s Rosie had illustrated the exhibit brochure’s back cover as well as interior pages. After the exhibition, it was then featured on the cover of Sotheby’s May 2002 American Paintings auction magazine. The auction was held on May 22, 2002. The bidding on Rockwell’s “Rosie the Riveter” painting began at $1.5 million and proceeded in $100,000 increments until it was sold for $4,959,500. The buyers were a husband-and-wife team – Kelly Elliott owner of the Elliott Yeary Gallery of Aspen, Colorado, and her husband, Jason Elliott, a partner in Ranger Endowments Management of Dallas, Texas.
“‘Rosie’ was the first piece of art I ever appreciated back in grade school,” Jason Elliott, 32, explained to a New York Times reporter. “…She’s colorful, she’s calm and this is my favorite representation of America.” Kelley Elliott, 29, who had done the bidding for the Rockwell painting, said it would be displayed in the Colorado gallery for the summer. No longer range plans for the painting were announced at that time, but Jason Elliott indicated that he wanted the painting to be seen. “I don’t want it locked away in a room somewhere,” he said. Rockwell’s “Rosie,” however, would be sold again. In June 2009, it was reported that Alice Walton, daughter of Sam Walton, founder of Walmart Stores, acquired the Rockwell painting for $4.9 million. The “Rosie the Riveter” painting is currently housed at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. The museum, which opened in November 2011, is largely the creation of Alice Walton and the Walton Family Foundation.
Beyond “Rosie the Riveter,” Norman Rockwell’s work today is still admired broadly throughout America. Museum exhibits of Rockwell’s work at The Saturday Evening Post and elsewhere have appeared over the years throughout the country. In Columbus, Ohio, for example, during February-March 2009, there was a “Rockwell’s America” exhibit at the Ohio Historical Center in Columbus, Ohio. A photo from the Rosie the Riveter portion of that exhibit appears at left. There is also the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where Rockwell lived the last 25 years of his life. Founded in 1969, it holds the world’s largest collection of original Rockwell art – some 574 original works as well as the Norman Rockwell Archives of photographs, fan mail, and other documents.
Rosie Memorial & Park
Rosie the Riveter Memorial looking out toward Richmond Marina & San Francisco Bay beyond. This site was formerly Kaiser Shipyard No. 2.
On October 14th, 2000, a “Rosie the Riveter memorial” was dedicated in Richmond, California, a location on the San Francisco Bay where one of WWII’s amazing engineering feats took place – with women workers playing a key role. For it was here that Kaiser shipbuilding devised mass-assembly techniques to more quickly produce the vessels that were needed in the war. In that undertaking, Richmond became a Mecca for workers, as other factories, including a Ford Motor plant, were also converted to war-time production of jeeps and other equipment. In the 1990s, with some of these sites deteriorating and/or fading in memory, a few local officials sought to improve their locale and draw tourist and public attention to the historic role women workers had played at some of these locations. A modest “Rosie the Riveter” memorial was first proposed at the site of one the Kaiser shipbuilding docks, and work began in the late 1990s. But this memorial soon sparked, and became part of, a much larger vision and plan that would come to encompass the “Rosie the Riveter WW II Home Front National Historical Park” – a U.S. National Park with multiple venues and historic sites along Richmond’s 22-mile waterfront.
Rosie park poster.
In the U.S. Congress, legislation authorizing the “Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park” was submitted by U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) in March of 2000. The bill was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in October 2000. “Preservation is not only for parks and wilderness areas,” said Congressman George Miller at the bill’s signing. “We are also committed to using our resources to preserve historic sites that help tell the story of America’s development, and the Rosie the Riveter Home Front National Historical Park will stand as a lasting tribute to these brave women who played such a crucial role in winning the war.” Today, the park includes a number of exhibits on the “homefront” and “Rosie-the-Riveter” contributions to the WWII-era production that took place in Richmond. Other exhibits for the park are also planned.
View toward Bay from hull sculpture looking down walkway. Engraved pavement sections are visible as well as “image ladders” with period photographs & shipyard memorabilia.
At the October 2000 dedication of the Rosie the Riveter memorial, for example, hundreds of visitors and dignitaries came to the ceremony, not the least of whom were some 200 “Rosies” returning to the former workplace to revisit their past. The memorial, which includes a sculpture of part of a ship’s hull under construction, evokes the ship building that went on there, with a granite walkway that stretches the length of a Liberty ship the to the water’s edge. The granite walkway includes etched words from women workers. The site also includes “image ladders” with photographs and memorabilia, and a timeline of events on the home front and individual memories of the period. On the overlook platform at the memorial, in a prominent location, is the following quote for all to read: “You must tell your children, putting modesty aside, that without us, without women, there would have been no spring in 1945.”
For other stories at this website on notable women and their careers see, for example: writer and ecologist Rachel Carson and her book, Silent Spring; Olympics star and pro golfer, Babe Didrikson; singer and TV celebrity Dinah Shore; rock star Tina Turner; and dancer and movie star, Cyd Charisse. Thanks for visiting – and please consider supporting this website. Thank you. – Jack Doyle
Penny Colman, Rosie the Riveter: Women Working on the Home Front in World War II, Crown Books, 1995.
Dr. Kaylene Hughes, “Women at War: Redstone’s WWII Female Production Soldiers,” paper originally written by Dr. Kaylene Hughes, Senior Historian, U.S. Army Missile Command Historical Office, for presentation to the U.S. Army Historians Conference, June 1994. The paper was adapted to book-format by Dr. Hughes in early 1995.
WW II worker I.D. badge, Redstone Arsenal.
Tony Marcano, “Famed Riveter In War Effort, Rose Monroe Dies at 77,” New York Times, June 2, 1997.
Poster for the B-grade 1944 romantic comedy film made by Republic studios.
James J. Kimble and Lester C. Olson, “Visual Rhetoric Representing Rosie the Riveter: Myth and Misconception in J. Howard Miller’s ‘We Can Do It!’ Poster,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs, Vol. 9, No. 4, Winter 2006, pp. 533-569.
“Rosie The Riveter: Wars and Battles, World War II Home Front,” U-S-History.com.
National Public Radio (NPR), “My Mother’s Story: Dot the Welder,” by Joyce Butler, on Morning Edition by Michael Garofalo; senior producer for StoryCorps Sarah Kramer, December 15, 2006.
Poster for the 1983 film, with subhead above that reads: 'The story of eight old friends searching for something they lost, and finding that all they needed was each other.' For many Baby Boomers who saw this film, the soundtrack was especially memorable, a fact not lost on Madison Avenue.
In September 1983, a movie named TheBig Chill was released — a story about eight former 1960s’ college friends who gather for an unscheduled reunion after a friend’s untimely suicide. The Columbia film was nominated for, but did not win, three academy awards, including Best Picture. The Big Chill did reasonably well at the box office and in its DVD afterlife and still has fans online today. But for many who first saw it in 1983, it was the film’s soundtrack – an evocative collec- tion of original 1960s rock ‘n roll tunes – that was especially memorable and enduring. In fact, the movie’s music became something of a key landmark in the history of advertising, as it would help to spur the use of original rock music in a myriad of advertising applications in the years that followed. Prior to The Big Chill, for the most part, popular rock musicians sang company jingles, or advertisers used copied versions of their songs, performed by imitators and studio groups. But after The Big Chill, there was a decided turn by Madison Avenue to use original rock ‘n roll songs, or portions of them, in all kinds of advertising. “…[T]he movie probably gave far too many ad agencies the notion to buy up the rights to 60s’ songs for use in pushing the nostalgia buttons of key-demographic consumers,” later wrote Ken Tucker in The New York Times. Indeed, by the mid-1980s oldies rock ‘n roll had reached vintage nostalgic value among middling Baby Boomers, who were then arriving by the millions in their full, prime-time spending years. And while it wasn’t the only factor, The Big Chill certainly helped persuade Madison Avenue to begin using original-track rock ‘n roll more prominently in their advertising. In fact, a few industry wags would call the practice “Big Chill advertising.”
Big Chill Music 1983 Soundtrack
“I Heard it Through the Grapevine” Marvin Gaye (1968, #1) “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” The Rolling Stones (1973, #42) “A Whiter Shade of Pale” Procol Harum (1967, #5) “Tracks of My Tears”(1965, #16)
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles “Wouldn’t it Be Nice”(1966, #8)
The Beach Boys “Tell Him” (1963, #4)
The Exciters “The Weight”(1968, #63)
The Band “Good Lovin’”(1966, #1)
The Rascals “Strangers in the Night” Instrumental “Gimme Some Lovin’”(1967, #7)
Spencer Davis Group “Bad Moon Rising” (1969, #2)
Creedence Clearwater Revival “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”(1966, #13)
The Temptations “When a Man Loves a Woman”(‘66,#1)
Percy Sledge “A Natural Woman”(1967, #8)
Aretha Franklin “In the Midnight Hour” The Rascals “I Second That Emotion”(1967, #4)
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles “Joy to the World”(1971, #1)
Three Dog Night “Quicksilver Girl”(1968)
The Steve Miller Band “My Girl”(1965, #1)
The Temptations ___________________ Songs listed by approximate appearance in the film.
What follows below is some history on Madison Avenue’s use of rock music in advertising; but first, a few words on The Big Chill’s storyline and its musical packaging.
The Big Chill is an introspective film featuring a weekend of soul searching by the group of college friends who have lost one of their former inner circle to suicide (Kevin Costner played the corpse). The film’s star-studded cast included Glenn Close, William Hurt, Tom Berenger, and Jeff Goldblum, among others.
The story opens at the funeral of their friend, Alex, and his death is the first unpleasant bit of reality to hit the group, soon to become immersed in a “ten-years-later” reality check on what they each have become since their college days. Among them is a medical doctor, an owner of athletic shoe company, a TV actor, a public-defender-turned-corporate-lawyer, an aimless, somewhat traumatized Vietnam veteran, a bored-to-tears housewife, a People magazine writer, and a pretty, somewhat younger woman who was living with their departed friend at the time of his suicide. This mix of characters retires from the funeral to the South Carolina home of one of the group, where they each work through their various feelings, concerns and hopes during the weekend. They eat, drink, cavort, reminisce, dance, smoke dope, and bare their souls. They fondly recall their college days and their causes, but also confront their disappointments and the waning of their idealism.
Though never stated per se, “the big chill” has hit them; the reality that their undergraduate dreams and intentions are not being realized. Their lives and careers have not turned out exactly as they envisioned them in college. Turns out, life is more difficult and less inspiring than what they thought it would be. In the end, some find new direction, some not. Others pick up where they left off. The film’s viewers, meanwhile, are fully engaged with the message, and also with the excellent soundtrack, as music becomes a big part of the film’s take-away connection.
The Big Chill soundtrack, in fact, is top shelf; some of the best music of the 1960s, placed nicely in the film’s storyline, hitting its intended viewers in their deepest memory banks and remaining in their heads for days after seeing the film. During the church scene at the funeral of the departed Alex, for example, one of the group begins to play a few riffs of one of his favorite songs on the church organ – the Rolling Stone’s “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” — as the camera pans the knowing smiles of his friends’ faces. The organ riff segues into the original tune which plays throughout the funeral scene.
Big Chill Sampler
“Tell Him” -The Exciters
In another scene in the kitchen where the group is cleaning up after a pasta and wine fest, The Temptations’ “Ain’t to Proud to Beg” is played, leading to impromptu dancing among friends. “The scene encapsulates the spirit of the film,” one reviewer would later write, “friendship forged in the footloose optimism of the 60′s; camaraderie instantly regained through the nostalgic power of good pop music.” (see film promo clip).
Other tunes in the film – such as “A Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin; “Wouldn’t it Be Nice” by the Beach Boys; “The Weight” by The Band; “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival; “Tracks of My Tears” by Smokey Robinson; “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye; and “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum – all fit nicely into their scenes, serving as a kind of “comfort food” for Boomers. The Big Chill soundtrack, in fact, quickly became a popular best-seller for Motown, climbing to #17 on the Billboard albums chart in 1983, selling 1 million copies by late March 1984. All of this, of course, was not lost on Madison Avenue.
The Big Chill wasn’t the first movie to use original rock ‘n roll music in a soundtrack. Other films dating to the 1950s had already done so – such as 1955′s Blackboard Jungle, which used Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock” over the opening and closing credits. The Beatles were among the first to integrate film and original rock music in their mid-1964 A Hard Day’s Night, which used about a dozen of their songs. Easy Rider of 1969 used rock music effectively in its score, and so did American Graffiti in 1973, the latter in a purposeful nostalgic vein. Madison Avenue, meanwhile, had a long history of using all kinds of music in advertising. However, rock ‘n roll music in advertising – especially original-version rock ‘n roll – was still new territory for advertisers in the early 1980s.
Pre Big Chill: 1960s-1985
In fact, prior to the mid-1980s, original rock ‘n roll music had pretty limited and spotty use in advertising. Rock and popular recording artists were commissioned to sing company jingles or musical spots for various products using company-provided lyrics or compositions. In 1963, the folk music group The Limeliters helped inaugurate a series of radio ads for the Coca-Cola company. They also did a few early TV ads. The Shirelles, one of the popular “girl groups” of the early 1960s, were among the first pop acts chosen by Coke to record radio commercials, doing a series of those ads for the company over several years. Among others who did Coke ads in 1965, and whose names appeared on vinyl promo recordings produced by Coke’s ad agency McCann-Erickson, were: the Four Seasons, Roy Orbison, Jay & the Americans, Jan & Dean, and others. In the 1965-69 period, for example, one Coca-Cola historian found 63 Coke radio spots by popular artists, including one by Freddie and the Dreamers singing one Coke lyric to their tune “I’m Telling You Now.”
Sample label from 1965 advertising recording of Coca-Cola jingles produced by ad agency McCann-Erickson featuring artists Roy Orbison and Jan & Dean
Among other Coke artists doing radio and/or TV spots during this era and later years were: the Bee Gees, Neil Diamond, the Moody Blues, the Tremeloes, the Troggs, Los Bravos, the Everly Brothers, Otis Redding, the Box Tops, Leslie Gore, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, and Ray Charles. Pepsi, 7-Up, and a number of other companies were then recording jingles with pop groups as well. In the U.K., the young Rolling Stones recorded a rock jingle in the 1960s for Rice Krispies cereal that appeared on a European TV spot. Still, most of this music was commissioned specifically for the product, and did not use original, pre-existing rock songs. The nostalgic and “associative” value of these original rock songs, aimed at specific target groups, had yet to be linked to advertising pitches.
By the late 1970s, rock music was surfacing in a few other TV formats, as the 1976 Orleans hit, “Still the One” started to be used as the ABC-TV network theme song and also by the Nine Network in Australia for the same purpose. In 1981, there were musicians hooking up with beer and liquor companies in a variety of relationships, some of which involved TV and radio spots, doing company jingles, appearing in print ads, or becoming involved in sponsorship arrangements. These included Dave Mason of Traffic and later Fleetwood Mac, and Charlie Daniels of the Charlie Daniels Band doing beer commercials – Mason for Miller and Daniels for Busch. The Commodores became involved with Schlitz beer; Kool & The Gang with Schlitz Malt Liquor, Journey joined Budweiser, and The Marshall Tucker Band with Ronrico Rum. In the 1960s and 1970s, the nostalgic and “associa- tive” value of original rock `n roll music had yet to be linked to specific advertis- ing pitches. Ad agencies in the early and mid-1980s were also using some popular song melodies, but inserted their own product-specific lyrics usually performed by cover groups. As writer Carrie McLaren noted in research she’d done on this history: the Platters’ “Only You” became “Only Wendy’s”; the Diamonds’ “Little Darlin’” became KFC’s “Chicken Little”; Buddy Holly’s “Oh Boy” became “Oh Buick!”; Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” became Burger King’s “Whole Lotta Breakfast Goin’ On”; Danny and the Juniors’ “At the Hop” becomes “Let’s Go Take a [Granola] Dip”; and Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife” became “It’s Mac Tonight.” In mid-1982, a version of the Beach Boys’ ”Good Vibrations” was being used in a Sunkist ad. By this time too, MTV, “music television,” was becoming a force. Launched in August 1981, the whole point of MTV was to use music videos to sell music. But it also had a major impact on advertising. By early 1984, for example, super pop sensation and MTV star Michael Jackson, then of “Thriller” and “moon walk” fame, had made two TV spots for Pepsi – ads that used Pepsi lyrics to the beat and sound of Jackson’s popular “Billie Jean” song in Pepsi’s “new generation” campaign.
Meanwhile, on another level, The Big Chill of 1983-84 helped show advertisers the way to a new kind of advertising to Baby Boomers through the rich connection to original rock songs. “It became prevalent in the mid-’80s after The Big Chill came out,” according to Ray Serafin, an automotive writer for Advertising Age. Many of the spots that followed The Big Chill, he explained, were trying “to evoke an emotional connection.” By the time of The Big Chill , the evocative con- nection between the ’60s music and its Boomer audience had become especially ripe. By the time of The Big Chill in 1983-84, the evocative connection between the music and its Boomer audience had become especially ripe. More years had elapsed between the music’s initial popularity and Boomers’ middling years. The music had, for this group, reached its “prime-time nostalgic vintage,” and so, had a more powerful appeal and connection.
In both film and advertising psychology, the music-emotion tie is a well-studied phenomenon, and has become a valued strategy. Movie producers know that the right music in a movie scene can make the scene more powerful, more memorable. Hollywood producers would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to get the legal rights to use the right song in the right spot. Advertisers by the mid-1980s were willing to do the same.
Ford’s Yuppie Ads
In 1985, Ford Motor Company’s advertising agency, Young & Rubicam (Y&R), became an early developer of this approach, producing a series of 19 television commercials using 1960s and 1970s music. These ads were used to pitch Ford’s Lincoln-Mercury cars. Ford and Y&R called their advertising “The Yuppie Campaign” – meaning “Young Urban Professional” or “Young Upwardly Mobile Professionals,” describing a desirable Boomer market segment. The aim of the Ford/Y&R campaign was to make an emotional connection with Yuppies, bringing back memories of when they were in college. Different popular songs were used on each commercial, some in the original, some by imitators.
Bette Midler Case 1986-1988
Back in 1985, when the Ford Motor and its ad agency, Young & Rubicam, Inc., launched their 19 television ads with rock ’n roll music in their “The Yuppie Campaign,” one of the songs they used was a 1973 Bette Midler tune, “Do You Want to Dance.” In some of the songs that Young & Rubicam used in that campaign, they tried to obtain the original song versions for their ads. However, in ten cases the agency employed “sound-alikes” and not the original artists or original versions. One of the “sound-alikes” imitated Bette Midler in her song “Do You Want to Dance.” Midler by then was a nationally known actress and singer who had won a 1973 Grammy as Best New Artist, and also had recordings that had gone Gold and Platinum. She was also nominated in 1979 for an Academy award for Best Female Actress in The Rose, in which she portrayed a pop singer Janis Joplin. Midler had a long history of avoiding commercial endorsements, and in fact had refused Ford’s offer to do the ad herself. When the backup singer produced a very Midler-like version of the song for Ford – a version that even fooled Midler’s friends – Midler took legal action.
In 1986-87, Midler sued Lincoln-Mercury and Young & Rubicam, alleging that the use of a sound-alike in their ad constituted “an unlawful misappropriation of her persona.” She lost her first attempt at the trial court level when her case was dismissed. But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal came to her aide in a 1988 decision, noting that, “… when a distinctive voice of a professional singer is widely known and is deliberately imitated in order to sell a product, the sellers have appropriated what is not theirs and have committed a tort in California.” She was also awarded $400,000 by the jury. Midler’s success – which came to be known as the “Midler tort” in California – put a damper on the use of sound-alikes. But soon, outright licensing of original songs became the preferred way to go for commercial interests, although many artists would not go down that path.
In early March 1985, for example, Lincoln-Mercury used the music from the Beatles song “Help”in one of their ads – though the tune in this case was sung by other artists, not the Beatles. Still, it was the first time that a Beatles song was used in an American TV spot, and Lincoln-Mercury paid $100,000 at the time to use it. After that, The Beatles refused to allow their music to be used in commercials, though that would change after a later battle with Nike. Other artists whose music was used in the Lincoln-Mercury ads – either in the original or by imitators – included Bette Midler, the Coasters, the Four Tops, the Temptations, Tina Turner, and Martha & the Vandellas.
Among artists and fans, meanwhile, there was resistance to using rock ‘n roll songs in advertising and other commercial applications. Some artists refused to allow their songs to be used for advertising. Among artists in the mid-1980s then resisting the practice were, for example, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Joan Jett, Chrissie Hynde, Billy Idol, and John Mellencamp. Some music fans would object to the practice in more fundamental way.
Carrie McLaren, writing some years later about music and advertising, described how she associated a car commercial with the song “Everyday People” by Sly and Family Stone after casually hearing the song on a radio at a bagel shop. She caught herself in the thought, angered by the car-ad association, rather than remembering the artist per se, “the everybody-can-get-along” message of the song, or her college days when she first heard the music. “When I reacted to “Everyday People,’” she explained, ” it wasn’t about [the artist] selling out or some ’60s multicultural love-in; it was as if the song in my head had been swiped.” And that for many fans – the appropriation and/or distortion of musical memory – would continue to be an issue as more and more original music was used in advertising. Still, the genie was out of the bottle by this time. Advertisers had discovered the power in original rock music and there would be little turning back. By 1986 Rolling Stone magazine had launched a separate newsletter, Marketing Through Music, aimed at promoting the use of rock music to sell consumer goods, especially to the young adult audience.
The “Big Chill advertising” that began in the mid- and late-1980s was just the beginning. Some important legal fights were yet to come, including the Beatles’ fight with Nike in the late 1980s over the use of one of their songs. But increasingly, through the 1990s (see “Selling Janis Joplin”, for example ), the use of original rock music in advertising would escalate and become more common.
15th anniversary DVD edition, 1998.
As for The Big Chill, the movie and music continued to have a good run for years after its initial opening. In the year after the movie’s opening, a second album of music was released: The Big Chill: More Songs from the Original Soundtrack. The original soundtrack meanwhile sold 2 million copies by late September 1985. It would eventually sell more than six million copies, becoming one of Motown’s best-selling albums. In 1998, the film’s 15 anniversary year, there was a theatrical reissue of the film in November, and a DVD version by Sony the following January. The DVD includes a retrospective documentary, deleted scenes, the movie’s trailer, and a six-page insert. “The Big Chill reasserts itself effortlessly… as an irresistibly satisfying cultural artifact,” wrote Entertainment Weekly’s Lisa Schwarzbaum at the film’s 1998 reissue. In 1998 as well, both the original and supplemental Big Chill music albums were remastered and released anew. In 2004, a deluxe edition of the soundtrack was released containing all but two of the eighteen songs from the film, plus three additional instrumentals from the film. A second “music-of-a-generation” disc of nineteen additional tracks was also included in the deluxe edition, some of which had appeared on the original albums. In 2008, some twenty-five years after its release, The Big Chill still had an online following.
Stay tuned to this website for other stories on the history and use of music in advertising and related issues.
The Big Chill cast in front of the home in South Carolina where the film was shot, from left: Glenn Close, Kevin Kline, Meg Tilly, William Hurt, Tom Berenger, Mary Kay Place, Jeff Goldblum, and JoBeth Williams.
In the mid- and late-1980s, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, the corporate kings of soda, were engaged in game of one-upmanship with their advertising dollars. An effective way to reach millions of consumers, they found, was to have popular recording stars perform in Pepsi and Coca-Cola television ads. The strategy had worked brilliantly for Pepsi with music stars Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. In the process, the 60-second TV ad became more of a major film production than a simple soft-drink endorsement. Elaborate performances showcasing the artists and the product of interest were now becoming part of a new commercial persuasion. In December 1988, Coca-Cola announced that it had signed then popular recording artist George Michael to do some of its TV ads. Shortly thereafter, on January 25th 1989, Pepsi announced they had signed pop sensation Madonna to tout their cola. The deal made front-page business and style-section news across the country. Pepsi would pay Madonna $5 million to appear in a series of TV ads and would also sponsor a Madonna world tour, planned for later that year.
Rolling Stone cover, September 1987.
Madonna by this time was already a big star. She had made her 1984 breakthrough performance at the MTV video awards; scored assorted #1 singles and albums; and had swept up fans around the world. By 1987 she had made the covers of national magazines such as Time,Life and Rolling Stone, and had also begun a film career. But Madonna was also controversial, having stirred the censors on occasion with her lyrics, dress, and/or sexually-suggestive performances. Pepsi was nonetheless happy to have her associate with their product.
The TV ad she starred in and helped produce for Pepsi in 1989 – entitled “Make A Wish” — did not appear to be controversial, and in fact was rather wholesome and spirited, tinged with some nostalgia and even family values. It featured her in a song and dance performance centered on her then forthcoming new song “Like A Prayer.” The Pepsi ad used a flash-back storyline opening with Madonna seated in a parlor watching an old black-and-white home movie of herself as a young girl at a birthday party. Pepsi even made a special “ad for the ad” — a teaser video to hype the Madonna spot — which ran on the nationally- televised Grammy awards.The spot cuts back and forth between the young Madonna and adult versions in sync with the lyrics – to various dance scenes, back to the young girl in school, to more dancing in a street scene, back to the girl a little older, another with Madonna dancing among joyful gospel singers, and then finally to Madonna in the opening parlor scene watching the home movie seated with a can of Pepsi. There she watches the little 8-year old Madonna in the black-and-white film at her party, with a 1950s Pepsi bottle and straw, about to blow out the candles on her cake. Across the ages, the two Madonnas toast each other with their respective Pepsis. Then Madonna says to the birthday girl, “Go ahead, make a wish.” With that, the little girl blows out the candles and the film ends. Cut to Pepsi logo and slogan, “A Generation Ahead.” The ad, in fact, comes across quite well, with nothing to offend. Madonna later called it “very, very sweet. It’s very sentimental”– not an inaccurate description.
Madonna dancing in Pepsi ad.
No Small Production
The production of this ad was not a casual undertaking. Pepsi and Madonna put a fair amount of time and effort into its casting and choreography. The ad would also be the first time that a major recording was ever released in a TV spot rather than over the radio or other special venue. In fact, Pepsi even made a special “ad for the ad” – a teaser video to hype the ad’s release before it ran. Pepsi ran the teaser spot during the nationally-televised Grammy music awards in February 1989, urging viewers to be sure they saw the forthcoming special Madonna ad. In the teaser, a narrator’s voice runs over a short film clip showing an aboriginal man in a desert making his way to a hut with satellite dish. “No matter where you are in the world on March 2nd,” intones the narrator in theater-shaking surround sound, “get to a T.V. and watch Pepsi’s two-minute Madonna commercial featuring her latest release, ‘Like A Prayer’ [pause] – for the very first time.”Pepsi expected that 250 million people would see the ad’s premier.
In early March 1989, Pepsi previewed the commercial for the press. The plan was to run the spot around the world on the top-rated evening TV shows in each of some 40 countries. Pepsi expected that 250 million people would see the ad’s premier. It would begin in Japan and then follow the time zones west around the world through Asia and Europe, finishing in California. Bill Kaatz, an executive with Pepsi’s ad agency, BBDO, said the two-minute ad would later be edited into 60-second and 30-second versions for regular advertising. Everything appeared to be on track. The ad, however, was not what generated the controversy that soon erupted.
Madonna in 'Like A Prayer' video.
“Like A Prayer” Video
In January 1989, Madonna had also made a separate video to help launch her forthcoming new album Like A Prayer, which included the single by that name used in the Pepsi ad. This video, however, had somewhat different imagery than the Pepsi ad. In the video, the action begins with Madonna running from the sound of police sirens, falling to the ground and then entering a church for sanctuary. In flashback sequences, it is shown that Madonna has witnessed a rape and stabbing of a woman by a white man. The rape victim is aided by a black man who is then blamed for the crime and arrested. Inside the church, Madonna is shown in scenes seeking guidance about her dilemma as the witness to the crime for the wrongly-accused good Samaritan. In one scene she is kissed on the forehead by Saint Martin de Porres. Other scenes show Madonna dancing and singing in front of burning crosses and letting her shoulder straps fall. At one point she is seen grasping a knife, letting it fall to the ground leaving wounds on her palms or her hand, which some interpreted as stigmata or marks of crucifixion, which some later cite as sacrilegious. Madonna is also shown dancing and singing with a gospel choir in the video. And finally, she is shown going to the police as a witness, helping to free the innocent man. At the end of the video, a curtain comes down, and Madonna and cast come out on stage to take a bow.
'Like A Prayer' ran heavily on MTV.
The “Like a Prayer” video began running on cable TV’s MTV channel the day after the Pepsi commercial aired. The Pepsi spot had run on March 2nd without incident on the family-oriented Cosby Show and also in other locations around the world. An estimated 250 million people saw the first airing in the U.S., the U.K., and other countries. Meanwhile, the “Like A Prayer” video on MTV ran in what is called “heavy rotation,” as was the normal practice with popular music videos on that channel. And that’s when the trouble began for Pepsi.
The first objections came from Rev. Donald Wildmond of the American Family Association, a Christian group. Wildmond threatened to have his AFA Journal’s 380,000 subscribers boycott Pepsi until the company bowed to his demands. From his home base in Tupelo, Mississippi, Wildmond demanded that Pepsi nullify their deal with Madonna Religious groups charged Madonna with ”ridiculing Christianity,” and bid Pepsi to drop their deal with her.because their commercial is “putting Madonna up as a clean, wholesome role model” on the one hand, while her MTV video on the other hand was “ridiculing Christianity.” Wildmond was no novice to these kinds of fights, as he had recently boycotted Martin Scorsese’s film The Last Temptation of Christ. Pepsi, however, had not seen Madonna’s MTV video before their own TV ad began to run, nor did they have the right to make any judgements about Madonna’s other work
CD sleeve for 'Like A Prayer' single.
Initially, when Wildmond’s boycott threat arose, Pepsi spokesman Tod McKenzie tried to deflect the negative press. “Why isn’t he going after the [MTV] video?” McKenzie asked. “Why has he targeted really an innocent, wholesome commercial people have responded favorably to?” Still, Pepsi immediately put a hold on further broadcasting of the Madonna ad until they could assess what was happening. Then a Catholic bishop from Texas, Rene Gracido, added his voice to the fight, calling Madonna’s video offensive. He too called for a boycott of Pepsi and its other corporate holdings – including Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. The protest began to grow. Some Catholic groups in Italy started to protest. Then came a giant blow: the Pope released a statement by the Vatican that banned Madonna from appearing in Italy. The album Like a Prayer, was later censured by the Vatican.
Pepsi dropped Madonna like a hot potato and the ad was never shown again. Said a Pepsi spokesman at the time: “When you’ve got an ad that confuses people or concerns people, it just makes sense that that ad goes away.”“I really couldn’t believe how out of control the whole Pepsi thing got.” - Madonna Still, the ad survives today on You Tube and other web sites (see links above). Pepsi also dropped its planned sponsorship of Madonna’s world tour, although some Madonna Pepsi cans had already been printed. Madonna, however, retained her entire $5 million payment even though her contract had called for three more Pepsi commercials. Madonna, meanwhile, professed surprise at the reaction. “When I think of controversy, I never really think people are going to be half as shocked as they are at what I do,” she said. “I really couldn’t believe how out of control the whole Pepsi thing got.”
Cover of Madonna's 'Like A Prayer' album.
Soaring Record Sales
The controversy, however, did not appear to hurt Madonna’s music sales or slow her rising star. The news coverage and the controversy simply bolstered her cache. The timing of the whole affair was very good indeed – coming just as some 2 million copies of her album Like A Prayer were heading for the record stores. By late March and early April 1989, the single and the album, Like a Prayer, both shot to #1 on the Billboard charts. The album would proceed to sell 13 million copies worldwide, 4 million alone in the U.S., also spawning four Top Ten singles and becoming the top album in over thirty countries. “If there was anyone left in the world who didn’t know who Madonna was up until that point,” wrote Mark Bego in his 1992 book, Madonna: Blonde Ambition, “they certainly knew who she was now.” Still, at this point, Madonna had another two decades of career and controversy ahead, with many more albums, movies, concerts and multi-million-dollar contracts to come. By January 2007, Forbes magazine was reporting that Madonna was the 4th wealthiest woman in entertainment, worth an estimated $350-to-$400 million dollars.
Andrea Adelson, “Madonna Joins Pepsi Lineup,” New York Times, Jan 26, 1989.
Jane Applegate, “Pepsi Recruits Madonna to Help Fight Cola War,” Los Angeles Times, January 26, 1989, Section IV, p.1.
Peter Fearon, “Stars Win Stripes in the Cola Wars,” Media & Marketing, The Times (London), Wednesday, February 8, 1989.
“Going Global with Madonna — Pepsi-Cola Co.’s Commercial To Air in 40 Countries,” New York Times, March 2, 1989, p. C-16.
Joanne Lipman, “Debut of Madonna Single; ‘Like a Prayer’ Song to Make Debut on Pepsi Television Commercial,” Wall Street Journal, March 2 , 1989, p. B-6.
Michael J. McCarthy, “Christian Group Says It Will Boycott Pepsi Over Madonna Ties; Association Led By Wildmon Calls New Music Video By Rock Singer Offensive,” Wall Street Journal, March 9, 1989, p. B-7.
“Another Temptation,” U.S. News & World Report, March 20, 1989, p.13.
Bill Zehme, “Madonna – Rolling Stone Interview,” Rolling Stone, March 23, 1989, p.50.
“Pepsi Cancels Madonna Ad,” New York Times, April 5, 1989.
James R. Schiffman, “Pepsico Cans TV Ads With Madonna, Pointing up Risks of Using Superstars,” Wall Street Journal, April 5 , 1989, p. B-11.
Bruce Horovitz, “Attempt To Cap Madonna Ad Protest Fizzles For Pepsi,” Los Angeles Times, April 7, 1989, p. IV-3.
Peter Waldman, “This Madonna Isn’t What the Reverend Really Had in Mind; Minister Helped Get Pepsi to End Singer’s Racy Ad: He Pans ‘Lonesome Dove,’”Wall Street Journal, April 7, 1989, p. A-1.
“Headliners; Quick Cancellation,” New York Times, April 9, 1989.
Dody Tsiantar, “Turning Out TV Ads; Pepsi Pulls its Too-Hot-to-Handle Madonna Spot as a New Study Asks Who’s Really Paying Attention,” Newsweek, April 17, 1989, p. 42.
“Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer’ Clip Causes a Controversy,” Rolling Stone, April 20, 1989, p. 22.
Bruce Horovitz, “Pepsi Plans No New Ads to Sub for Pulled Madonna TV Spot,” Los Angeles Times, April 20, 1989, p. IV-3.
Jeffrey Ressner, “Pepsi Goes Flat on Madonna,”Rolling Stone, May 18, 1989, p. 27.
“Madonna’s Controversies,”@ Wikipedia.com.
Mark Bego, “The Madonna/Pepsi Controversy,” in Madonna: Blonde Ambition ,New York: Cooper Square Press, 1992.