A wholesome, all-American advertising illustration, this gouache on board features the iconic Elsie the Cow. Named one of the Top 10 Advertising Icons of the Century by Ad Age in 2000, Elsie the Cow has been among the most recognizable product logos in the United States. In this ad campaign, Elsie and her family are seen in the lobby of a picture house walking past a photo of a dashing Hollywood star dressed as a soldier during the height of World War II. Elsie looks toward her husband and quips, “Why can’t you smile like husbands in the movies?” Her unamused husband scowls in response.
When the United States went to war in December 1941, so did Hollywood. Studio executives, filmmakers, actors, and directors knew that movies were essential for boosting the morale of troops overseas and Americans at home. The Roosevelt administration asked Hollywood to ask itself, “Will this picture help win the war?” With the growth of the film industry came the growth of the influence of Hollywood celebrities. Hollywood stars appeared in advertisements and toured the country to encourage citizens to purchase war bonds to support their country in the war.
Though unsigned, we believe this to be by American illustrator Walter Early created for Young & Rubicam ad agency on behalf of the Borden Dairy Company. Young & Rubicam was founded in 1923 and is still a marketing and communications company going strong today. This original illustration includes a magazine tear sheet of the published advertisement from 1944. Painting is handsomely matted and shrink wrapped and ready for display of framing.