Christmas Advertising: LIFE Magazine, Nov. 30, 1959 (Xmas#5)

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Proctor smile variousartists

Just look at that radiant smile!  And it’s all because of (find out below) …

NOTE: I occasionally post off-topic entries, especially during the Christmas season.  I’ll be taking a breather from the My Life — In Concert! series for December to make way for three or four Christmas-themed entries to come in the the next few weeks.

A couple of yuletides ago, I published an entry highlighting Christmas-related ads spanning 1949-2011 that were culled from my magazine collection, focussing on gift-giving suggestions from throughout the years as well as with ads relating to seasonal social activities and entertaining.

While I love old magazines in general, I am particularly fond of and seek out issues of LIFE (something I chronicled in this piece on the first issue of LIFE on the 1950s).  In this entry, I am zeroing in on one particular issue, with a newsstand date from exactly 54 years ago today: November 30, 1959.

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Cover variousartists

What was being proffered up as gifts and seasonal accoutrements during those final weeks of the 1950s, and how were they being depicted and sold?  I love what ads tell us about a particular place and time, and these specimens bark out the rigidity and restrictions of the day, as the epoch of the 1960s was about to commence.

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Cover highlight variousartists

Six of the ads below appeared as part of the compilation entries from two years ago, but I am running them again so that they can be seen in context.

As a side note, this issue has a lengthy (and unsurprisingly condescending) article on the then-current beatnik scene.  I plan on doing a whole entry on that piece at a later date.

And with that … let’s go shopping …

HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE GENDER-ROLE-SPECIFIC CHRISTMAS (AND A DECIDEDLY STRAIGHT, WHITE ONE TOO)

These were the closing moments of the 1950s, many years before the civil rights and women’s and gay rights movements took hold.  As per the society it was trying to reflect and snare, strict gender roles by (presumed) straight and white people proliferate (although the issue does have a positive article on basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain, and that aforementioned counter-culture-negative one on the Beats).

FOR THE LADIES:

Most ads aimed at women stress the joy and desire of … household products and beauty aids.

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Proctor Full ad variousartists The inner front cover pulls out to a three-panel ad for Proctor appliances.   Just look at that radiant smile!  And it’s all because of …

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Proctor iron variousartists

 … Mary Proctor irons??? ….

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Proctor toaster ad variousartists

 … and a mighty … toaster?  I’d love to see the written agreement defining what constitutes “perfect toast.”

Note m’lady’s glowing face reflected in the appliances, and the (literal) crown jewels associated with these fine products.  Hey Mary!

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Brookpark plates ad variousartists

If dishes were wishes, they’d look like these kitsches.

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Frigidaire Price Is Right ad variousartists

Bill Cullen was then-host of the original Price Is Right, one of many game shows of the time aimed squarely at a housewives audience.  Here he is shilling for Frigidaire and wearing a smart Santa hat to boot.  For me, I remember Cullen as a panelist on To Tell the Truth.

  LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Frigidaire Price Is Right Bill Cullen ad variousartists

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 puritron ad variousartists

Puritron: It sounds like the name of an early ’80s electropop band.  Just look at how thoroughly delighted Mom is to have an odor-free kitchen.  And you can give this to Dad too, for his ciggy smoke.  As for Arthur Godfrey telling the “amazing Puritron Story” every Monday night on CBS … oh, heart be still.

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 bulova watch ad variousartists

A Joan Harris prototype?  Visually, I love the colour scheme used in this ad as well as its layout of repeating rectangles.

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 jewelite ad variousartists

Look at that accessory on her wrist: clearly, she doesn’t have an eye for elegance.  I also love that it’s via the Pro-Phy-Lac-Tic Brush Company: does this mean that the brushes come wrapped in condoms?  The dudes even get a mention in this ad as well.  Speaking of whom ….

FOR THE GENTS:

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Acco Mowers ad variousartists

 It’s a lawn mower!  It’s a an Outboard Motor!  Does it make you breakfast as well?  Below are some of the fine Acco models.  There’s nothing quite like wrapping up a lawn mower and discretely chucking it under the tree.

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 acco mowers ad variousartists

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 bostonian shoes ad variousartists

Hmmm … Hunter … Race Car Driver .. Gentleman.  Yep, there’s no crack addicted, ranting buffoon of a mayor hanging out with extortion-friendly criminals, so I guess Rob Ford wasn’t part of Bostonian’s target audience.

TRANS-GENDER ADVERTISING:

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 cordomatic ad variousartists

Him and Her household items, with fab graphics.  I would say that the lady in the illustration has been made to look more than a bit like Mary Tyler Moore, except that this was almost two years before MTM hit the big time on The Dick Van Dyke Show.

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 variousartists Christmas Advertising Schick for women

In another set of his and hers pitches, Schick’s ladyparts model works a Jane Russell vibe in retail celebration of “96 blades … (to) shave underarms immaculately clean.”  Let’s not forget the electric razor’s “slender, alabaster beauty … touched with jewels and tapered for a lady’s hand.”  It reassuringly gushes that it makes for an “inspired gift … completely feminine.”  This colourful ad really jumps out at you when viewed across the two oversized LIFE pages.  Meanwhile, below, some dimpled, gurning schmuck gets the simple b&w treatment.   “14 Day Free Home Trial Starts Christmas Day!,” it sez here.   This guy reminds me of someone but I can’t put my finger on just who.  Any suggestions, dear readers?

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 variousartists Christmas Advertising schick men

  LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 leesures ad variousartists

Leesures?  Groan! Although you can kind of see the 1960s starting to come in here a bit.  Check out her waist — she could give Vampira a run for her money.  Although I doubt Vampira would have ever be caught dead in “Frontier Lady” slacks.

‘TIS THE SEASON FOR …

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christams Advertising metal tree variousartists

Nothing says Yuletide quite like a “twinkling, stainless metal” Christmas tree.  And what if the promised “Merriest Christmas Ever!” doesn’t bear out?  As with that suspect Five Years Guarantee of Perfect Toast for Lady Proctor, things here could quickly turn litigious.

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christams Advertising sprinkles variousartists

And if your stainless metal Angel Pine “natural shape” tree isn’t quite silver enough, you can tinkle Holiday Sprinkles all over the tree.  Just don’t inhale in the vicinity.

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christams Advertising bell variousartists

When voicing your Christmas wishes to loved ones around the world, ensure that the colours of your lipstick, nail polish, and top match that of your phone and Christmas cookies.  Also ensure that the phone accomplishes the unrealistic feat of floating in space, ahead of the cookie jar.  This ad is also proof positive that crossdressers were alive and well in the conservative ’50s.

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christams Advertising goodyear suburbanite tires variousartists

The 1950s was the era when suburbia exploded, and if you’re one of those snow-belted burb dwellers, you’re going to need some tires to get around in the gleaming white stuff.  These Suburbanites from Goodyear should do the trick — they were even “tested way up in Canada’s Hudson Bay area.”

  LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christams Advertising goodyear suburbanite tires hudson bay variousartists

GIVE THE GIFT OF LIFE

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas advertising LIFE subscription variousartists

“It’s easy to give LIFE,” this ad clolyingly announces, although I wouldn’t say no to an annual subscription to LIFE, particularly circa 1959 editions, for a mere $4.95 a year.  And it’s easy too! “To give LIFE for Christmas just fill out the order form at the right and mail it today” (see below) …LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising Order Card variousartists

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising LIFE subscription card variousartists

… and you get this fetching card/decoration specimen to hang on your tree AND …

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising LIFE the good life variousartists

… this subscription-only special edition, The Good Life.  I know that I’d be making a beeline straight for “The Gay Old Days,” although it must be said that “How the Famous Use Their Leisure” and “How to Play with Your Kids” promise to be the most fun you’ll have with your clothes on.

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising Websters Dictionary variousartists

And what if you encounter big words while reading all those issues of LIFE that will be arriving on your doorstep?  What if you find yourself face-to-face with perfidiousness or pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis?  What then?  It’s Webster’s New World Dictionary to the rescue!  And not only has it been “Tested” (could I have that qualified, please?), it’s used and recommended by wordsmith “Experts” such as  James Thurber and Marianne Moore.

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising websters dictionary experts variousartists

AUDIO/VISUAL CORNER

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising Argus cameras variousartists

It seems that home movie cameras, slide projectors and advanced snappers were really taking off as consumer goods at this time as evidenced by the copious number of ads that populate magazines from the era.  In this issue alone, here are three such ads for Argus (above), Kodak and Keystone (below).  I never thought I’d live to see the day when Kodak would file for bankruptcy.

  LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising kodak variousartists

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 variousartists Christmas Advertising keystone

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising zenith variousartists

I included this this Zenith ad in KA-CHING-A-LING.  Below are some details of the graphics, as well as the then-cutting-edge technology available for under the better-heeled Christmas trees of 1959.

  LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising Zenith detail variousartists

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising Zenith detail variousartists  LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising Zenith detail variousartists

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising Zenith detail variousartists  LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising Zenith detail variousartists

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising arvin variousartists

Indeed, just as with the movie cameras, the emerging stereo systems  of the time make a splash across issues of LIFE from this period, as they started becoming more common place as standard consumer goods.  Above, we have a precoital couple groovin’ with their Arvin (above), as well as ads for RCA and Webcor (below).  You know what I want for Xmas?  That Nipper figurine in the RCA ad.

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising RCA Nipper variousartists

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising webcor variousartists

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising London Records variousartists

Once you have that new HiFi, you’ll need some music to play on it.  Why, just look at the exciting choices that London Records was offering that Xmas.  Top Polkas, Hollywood Cha Cha Cha, Famous Continental Marches … it’s hard to know where to start, really, given such breathtaking audio selections.

 LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising board games variousartists

 Maybe you and the tots could play a game or two while listening to those Continental Marches.  And remember: always wear a tie when playing Racko.

ENTERTAINING

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising samsonite tables variousartists

If you’re going to be doing some entertaining, then perhaps this Samsonite portable furniture may come in handy.  Somehow, those dresses don’t seem Samsonite-table appropriate.

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising old grandad variousartists

 Of course, you’ll need plenty of liquor, too.  As I had mentioned in KA-CHING-A-LING, these holiday issues are fairly teeming with booze ads.  “Old” seemed to be the thing of the day, such as with Old Grand-Dad above, and …

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising old crow variousartists

… the high quality bourbon that is Old Crow.  Check out the toast below.  Have an “Old Crow in your glass” … now there’s a revolting thought.

  LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising old crow detail variousartists

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising martins variousartists

I believe it’s also being suggested that Martin’s may be the most virile scotch too.

  LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising lord calvert variousartists

  My, Lord Calvert is a shifty looking fella.  Nice hat, my lord.

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising vo variousartists

Here’s Seagram’s V.O. with swanky accompanying accoutrements, our old standbys of jewels and furs.  Who needs ’em, when you can have a Mary Proctor toaster.

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising LM cigarettes variousartists

“Oh look, it’s a cigarette.”  This beaming couple boogie down and welcome in the Swingin’ Sixties at a most merry fiesta, potentially contemplating key parties to come circa ten years down the line.

This woman has huge nostrils.  Is that William F. Buckley that she’s with?

NON-SEASONAL ADS

There are plenty of non-Claus-oriented ads in the issue too, and I’ve selected a few favourites to highlight.

  LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 variousartists Christmas Advertising pontiac

Classic-style illustration for a car ad from this era.

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 variousartists Christmas Advertising Miss Clairol

Clairol were still using that “only her hairdresser knows” line a decade later in ads from when I was a kid.

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 variousartists Christmas Advertising Angel Face

Nothing quite like changing your skin tone to match your outfit.  What if she’d been wearing gingham?

  LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 variousartists Christmas Advertising Tussy

Gotta love this illustration — and tag line — for Tussy Pink Cleansing Cream.

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 variousartists Christmas Advertising coke

This backpage Coke ad explodes with colour — and I want his striped shirt.

LIFE Magazine November 30 1959 Christmas Advertising canadian club variousartists

On behalf of this ad and me, a couple of Canadians, we wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and Terrific 2014.

Previous Christmas-Themed Entries:

Xmas #1: December 1986: My 3 Xmas Weekends From Hell Snuggle in for a heartwarming seasonal tale of being a store manager and having to endure armed robberies, flouncing Christian employees, slap-happy Santa helpers, and looting mall rats. Merry Christmas to one and all!

Xmas #2: Twisted Seasonal Sounds: A John Waters Christmas The Pope of Filth curates what is probably the most “unique” collection of seasonal tunes on the market, filled with redneck children singing Happy Birthday to Jesus, ornery tourette-inflected C&W, Theremin-driven toe tappers, and other joyfully questionable sonic Christmas delights.

Xmas #3: Ludicrous Seasonal TV: Star Wars Holiday Special George Lucas once said of this special “If I had the time and a sledgehammer, I would track down every copy of that show and smash it.” Read here and find out why.

Xmas #4: KA-CHING-A-LING: Xmas Advertising Highlights 1949-2011

Previous Magazine-Related Entries:

Mid-Century Modern: Life Magazine, January 2, 1950

Mad Men -Era Artefact: Maclean’s Magazine, Sept. 4, 1965

Sing Out!: Highlights from the Folk Music Bible, 1964-1966

NOTE: I also crosspost on my Open Salon blog.

Text © 2013 VariousArtists

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2 Comments on “Christmas Advertising: LIFE Magazine, Nov. 30, 1959 (Xmas#5)”

  1. How many kids wanted that record player? 🙂
    Brought back memories..
    HUGGG


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