Thursday’s ad is for Pabst Blue Ribbon, from 1950. In the later 1940s, Pabst embarked on a series of ads with celebrity endorsements, photographing star actors, athletes, musicians and other famous people in their homes, enjoying Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. This one features Pancho Gonzalez. He “was an American tennis player. He was the World No. 1 tennis player for an all-time record eight years from 1952 to 1960. He won 17 Major singles titles, including 15 Pro Slams and 2 Grand Slams.
Largely self-taught, Gonzales was a successful amateur player in the late 1940s, twice winning the United States Championships. He is still widely considered one of the greatest players in the history of the game. A 1999 Sports Illustrated article about the magazine’s 20 “favorite athletes” of the 20th century said about Gonzales (their number 15 pick): “If earth was on the line in a tennis match, the man you want serving to save humankind would be Ricardo Alonso Gonzalez.” The American tennis commentator Bud Collins echoed this in an August 2006 article for MSNBC.com: “If I had to choose someone to play for my life, it would be Pancho Gonzales.”
In the ad, Gonzalez has (probably) just come off the court, and is relaxing with a friend, sharing two bottles of beer. It’s one of the only one of this series of ads in which the beer appears to have already been consumed. Usually, the glass is full. Here it’s half empty, or is that half full?