October 10, 2008

Lucille Ball Lighting Up in Library


The New York Public Library is running an exhibit featuring various cigarette advertisements from the last century. Many of the ads make claims that today would be ridiculous if not libelous. one proclaiming "more doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette."

The exhibit, titled "Not a Cough in a Carload: Images Used by Tobacco Companies to Hide the Hazards of Smoking," opened Tuesday and will be at the library's Science, Industry and Business branch on Madison Avenue through Dec. 26.

Of course, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had many cigarette sponsors such as Phillip Morris. Lucille Ball even became "The Chesterfield Girl" on billboards when she was a model before her movie and TV career. Lucille Ball became such a fan of Chesterfield cigarettes that years later, during the filming of the "I Love Lucy" series, she put Chesterfield cigarettes in her sponsors' Phillip Morris cigarette boxes in order to smoke her favorite brand without annoying her sponsor.

You can view a few of these cigarette ads in video advertisements from "I Love Lucy" at the Everything Lucy website.

In addition to Lucille Ball, you'll see Santa Claus puffing on a PallMall as well as movie stars, athletes and others, such as Ronald Regan, Marlene Dietrich, Claudette Colbert, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Even cartoon characters such as Flintstones appear in the ads. No one was left out, even children and babies were used as props in the ads.

The curator, Dr. Robert Jackler, said he began collecting tobacco ads when his mother, a longtime smoker, was diagnosed with lung cancer. This exhibit is a memorial to her since her death last year.

You can read more about the exhibit from the Associate Press or The New York Times


The New York Public Library is located at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in New York City.

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