06 Oct Coppertone Girl thrills Miami
Coppertone tanning lotion was a big part of my childhood growing up in in the 1950’s and ’60’s. Who could resist the call of the beach, summer, and a golden tan. Not to mention the cute little girl getting her swimsuit torn off by a pup! The lotion itself was invented in 1944 by a pharmacist named Benjamin Green, but the brilliance of its marketing was the introduction of the Coppertone girl and the Cocker Spaniel puppy in 1953.
The artwork for the logo underwent a number of revisions over the years. It varied significantly from more or less revealing clothing where the tan line was equally more or less accentuated. This classic version, remembered by most people from 1959, is the one depicted in my painting.
I discovered this enormous billboard on the side of a building in North Miami while cruising around south Florida hunting for remnants of our roadside past. I was stunned by its size and beauty! This is, after all, an important symbol from our collective baby boomer childhoods evoking memories of delicious summer adventures and misadventures. Little did I know till I began researching the logo that what I found in Miami is one of the few remaining billboards that were strewn across America in the 1960’s. Many of them were motorized so as the dog pulled her swimsuit bottoms continuously went up and down.
The artist who created this iconic image, Joyce Ballantyne Brand, supposedly used her daughter Cheri as the model for this artwork. Many years later in the 1990’s Coppertone held a contest to celebrate their 40th anniversary at Disneyland where they searched over 100,000 contestants to find the child who was the perfect match. Four year old Alexis Durgee won the contest and went on to represent Coppertone in many of their commercials.
Needless to say, in relation to my search for vintage signs, I experienced tremendous joy finding this gem in Miami and am happy to have preserved it now for all to enjoy. And hey, “Don’t be a paleface!”