Beer In Ads #2150: Rosalind Russell For Pabst


Sunday’s ad is for Pabst Blue Ribbon, from 1949. 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 Miss Rosalind Russell and her husband Mr. Frederick Brisson. She “was an American actress of stage and screen, known for her role as fast-talking newspaper reporter Hildy Johnson in the Howard Hawks screwball comedy His Girl Friday (1940), as well as for her portrayals of Mame Dennis in Auntie Mame (1958) and Rose in Gypsy (1962). A noted comedian, she won all five Golden Globes for which she was nominated and was tied with Meryl Streep for most wins until Streep won her sixth award in 2007. Russell won a Tony Award in 1953 for Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Ruth in the Broadway show Wonderful Town (a musical based on the film My Sister Eileen, in which she also starred). She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress four times throughout her career.”

In the ad, she’s with her husband, Frederick Brisson, who was a Danish-American producer and the son of actor Carl Brisson. Cary Grant introduced the pair, and was best man at their wedding. They’re not in their home, which is common for this series of ads, but instead are at the Racquet Club in Palm Springs, California. He’s chivalrously poured his wife her beer, and is in the process of opening his beer. But look closely behind the Hollywood couple. There’s a woman rowing a boat in the swimming pool behind them. That seems just a little bit odd, doesn’t it?

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Beer In Ads #2149: Sid Luckman For Pabst


Saturday’s ad is for Pabst Blue Ribbon, from 1949. 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 Sid Luckman. He “was an American football quarterback for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL) from 1939 through 1950. During his twelve seasons with the Bears he led them to four NFL championships. Luckman was the first modern T-formation quarterback and is considered the greatest long range passer of his time.”

In the ad, done when was still an active player, though he would retire the following year, Sid sits in his home, surrounded by a few of his trophies. He holds a glass of beer, but there are two bottles of Pabst in the tray next to him. Either he was a prodigious drinker, or perhaps there’s someone else there in the room with him.

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Beer In Ads #2148: Bob Hope For Pabst


Friday’s ad is for Pabst Blue Ribbon, from 1948. 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 Bob Hope. He “was an American comedian, vaudevillian, actor, singer, dancer, athlete, and author. With a career spanning nearly 80 years, Hope appeared in over 70 feature films and short films, including a series of “Road” movies. In addition to hosting the Academy Awards 19 times (more than any other host), he appeared in many stage productions and television roles and was the author of 14 books. The song “Thanks for the Memory” is widely regarded as Hope’s signature tune.

Born in London, Hope arrived in America with his family at the age of four and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. He began his career in show business in the early 1920s, initially on stage, and began appearing on the radio and in films in 1934. He was praised for his comedy timing, specializing in one-liners and rapid-fire delivery of jokes, which were often self-deprecating, with Hope building himself up and then tearing himself down. Celebrated for his long career performing United Service Organizations (USO) shows to entertain active service American military personnel (he made 57 tours for the USO between 1941 and 1991), Hope was declared an honorary veteran of the United States Armed Forces in 1997 by act of the U.S. Congress. He also appeared in numerous specials for NBC television, starting in 1950, and was one of the first users of cue cards. Hope participated in the sports of golf and boxing, and owned a small stake in his hometown baseball team, the Cleveland Indians. He died at age 100 at his home in Toluca Lake, California.”

In the ad, Hope has foot up on a table, a golf club in one hand and a ball in the other. Probably having just finished another round (he was an avid golfer) he and friend are having cans of Pabst at the clubhouse. Behind them, two women look on, admiringly, with two glasses of beer on their table, as well.

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Beer In Ads #2147: Gregory Peck For Pabst


Thursday’s ad is for Pabst Blue Ribbon, from 1949. 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 Mr. & Mrs. Gregory Peck. He “was an American actor who was one of the most popular film stars from the 1940s to the 1960s. Peck continued to play major film roles until the late 1980s. His performance as Atticus Finch in the 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor. He had also been nominated for an Oscar for the same category for The Keys of the Kingdom (1944), The Yearling (1946), Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) and Twelve O’Clock High (1949). Other notable films he appeared in include Spellbound (1945), The Paradine Case (1947), The World in His Arms (1952), Roman Holiday (1953), Moby Dick (1956, and its 1998 miniseries), The Guns of Navarone (1961), Cape Fear (1962, and its 1991 remake), How the West Was Won (1962), The Omen (1976) and The Boys from Brazil (1978).”

President Lyndon Johnson honored Peck with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969 for his lifetime humanitarian efforts. In 1999, the American Film Institute named Peck among Greatest Male Stars of Classic Hollywood cinema, ranking at No. 12. He was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1983.

In the ad, the Pecks, Gregory and Greta, are in their “modern” bar, with Gregory behind it, smiling at his wife as she appears to be talking to someone we can’t see. Also, there’s a tennis racket on the chair next to her and Mr. Peck does seem to be wearing tennis garb, although Mrs. does not. And how about that flower arrangement next to him, with the flowers sticking out of someone’s head. I guess that’s modern, too.

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Beer In Ads #2146: Jean Hersholt For Pabst


Wednesday’s ad is for Pabst Blue Ribbon, from 1949. 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 Mr. & Mrs. Jean Hersholt. He “was a Danish-born actor who lived in the United States, where he was a leading film and radio talent, best known for his 17 years starring on radio in Dr. Christian and for playing Shirley Temple’s grandfather in Heidi.” So he’s probably not too well known anymore, but apparently was well-known enough in his day that even today the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences still gives a Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Oscars. In addition to acting, he also translated over 160 fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen into English — such as The Little Mermaid, the Emperor’s New Clothes and The Snow Queen (which Disney loosely based Frozen on — which were published in six volumes as “The Complete Andersen,” for which he was appointed a knight of the Order of the Dannebrog in 1948. And one las bit of trivia, he was the paternal half-uncle of Leslie Nielsen.

In the ad, the Hersholts, Jean and Via, are in their extensive library, sitting at a table surrounded by shelves of books. Two beers are on the table and Jean has a book and his pipe, though he looks much more comofrtable in this room than his wife does. He looks relaxed and is looking at her; she’s sitting up straight and staring into space.

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Beer In Ads #2145: Joan Fontaine For Pabst


Tuesday’s ad is for Pabst Blue Ribbon, from 1948. 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 Joan Fontaine. She was “a British-American actress, best known for her starring roles in classic Hollywood films. Her big break came when she starred in “Rebecca,” along with Laurence Olivier. It was also the American debut of British director Alfred Hitchcock, and she was nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award She didn’t win for “Rebecca,” however one year later, in 1941, she did win a Best Actress Oscar for “Suspicion,” co-starring Cary Grant, again directed by Hitchcock.

In the ad, she’s by her private pool, at her home in Brentwood, California, picking up a beer from the table while talking to presumably a guest. You can see several people around the pool, some in suits and dresses, while others are in swimsuits, so I suspect she was throwing a pool party at her home, or at least that’s what they’re trying to convey. Ms. Fontaine certainly isn’t jumping in the pool anytime soon, not wearing that rock around her neck.

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Beer In Ads #2144: Edward G. Robinson For Pabst


Monday’s ad is for Pabst Blue Ribbon, from 1949. 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 Mr. & Mrs Edward G. Robinson. He was “a Romanian-born American actor,” and “is best remembered for his tough-guy roles as a gangster, such as his star-making film Little Caesar and Key Largo.” The Robinsons are enjoying some PBRs while playing backgammon in their home. There is some art on the while, which makes sense, since he was an avid collector and built up an impressive private art collection during his lifetime.

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Pabst Blue Ribbon Day

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Here’s a little tidbit I found somewhere along the line, but don’t know the exact source, although it seems to mostly check out. On January 2, 1898, Pabst “officially” named their beer previously known as “Best Select” to “Pabst Blue Ribbon.” I say “officially,” because it had been known colloquially by that name before then, at least since 1893, when they supposedly won the blue ribbon (despite there being some controversy surround that event) that led to its name. According to Pabst’s own company history:

  • 1876: The First Gold Medal. Pabst’s Best Select lager wins a gold medal at the Centennial Celebration, marking the first of many awards the beer will win throughout its 150+ year lifespan.
  • 1882: A Blue Ribbon on Every Bottle. Having earned awards at US and international competitions, Pabst begins hand-tying a blue silk ribbon around the neck of each Best Select beer to identify it as a first-place winner. You know, because it was.
  • 1889: Another New Name. Pabst follows in his father-in-law’s footsteps, changing the brewery’s name to honor himself. The Pabst Brewing Company is born.
  • 1892: One Million Feet of Silk. As production rises, so does the demand for blue silk ribbon. The company purchases nearly 1 million feet of silk ribbon per year, which workers tie by hand around each bottle of Best Select.
  • 1893: America’s Best Beer. Pabst is awarded the blue ribbon at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, beating out many other popular American brewers. And not surprisingly, some unpopular ones.
  • 1895: What’ll You Have? Patrons keep asking bartenders for the beer with the blue ribbon, and the nickname sticks. The phrase “Blue Ribbon” is added to the Best Select name on the label.
  • 1898: A New Name for the Classic Beer. The beer’s name is officially changed to Pabst Blue Ribbon, and the brewery produces one million barrels. Pabst begins exporting heavily to New York, even opening his own hotels, theatres and restaurants that, oddly enough, do not serve rival Schlitz beer.

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This is the earliest PBR label I could find, from 1910.

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But even by 1933, when prohibition ended, this ad, using an earlier ad, shows that the label hadn’t changed much between 1910 and then.

The book “Brewing in Milwaukee,” by Brenda Magee, has an illustration of the first Pabst Blue Ribbon Select bottles, along with a short history.

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When they filed a new trademark application with the U.S. Patent Office on December 8, 1947, apparently in order to be in compliance with the “Act of 1946,” they were granted Registration No. 521,795 on March 7, 1950. In the application, they stated that “[t]he trade-mark was first used in January 1898, and first used in commerce among the several States which may lawfully be regulated by Congress in January 1898.” Similarly, when an Historic Designation Study Report” was prepared in late 1985 for the Pabst Mansion, it stated. “The beer’s reputation was greatly enhanced by being judged the best at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The word’s “Blue Ribbon” were first added to the label in 1895 with the Blue Ribbon label first used in January 1898.”

I’ve been collecting dates now going on forty years, having starting with a small notebook that I’d hand scribble dates wherever I found them. That was recopied in its entirety … twice, because I kept outgrowing them, before finally turning to the infinite space of digital. But in those early days I was not as scrupulous in keeping a record of my sources, mostly for space reasons. But the truth is it was originally something I did for fun, just for me, and I never really saw any potential for it until it decades to late to go back and find the literal thousands of sources I used to compile the original lists. But somewhere, I found an entry giving January 2 in 1898 as the date that Pabst first used, or sold, the Pabst Blue Ribbon beers with a new label, officially calling them that for the first time. Maybe it’s because the first was a holiday and nothing was sold until the next day, who knows. But even though I can’t be absolutely sure of that, it’s still fun to take a look back at the label for one of the most well-known brands of beer through the years, and today seems as good a day as any, 119 years later. So here’s a few more labels I turned up.

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pbr-1936
1936.

pbr-1930s
1930s.

pbr-1937
1937.

pbr-1939
1939.

pbr-1941
1941.

pbr-1946
1946.

pbr-1946-b
Also 1946.

pbr-1947
1947.

pbr-1948
1948.

pbr-1953
1953.

pbr-1955-a
1955.

pbr-1961
1961.

pbr-1980
1980.

pbr-mod-1
1980s.

pbr-mod-2
Modern era.

pbr-2012
2012.

pbr-2015
2015.

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Current label logo.

We Do More Than Just Brew Beer

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This is a fun piece of illustration, an infographic New Year’s Eve card of sorts, commissioned by Baltika, which is a Russian brewery that’s part of the Carlsberg Group. They hired Anton Egorov to create something like Мы больше, чем просто варят пиво, which is a reverse translation of their English version of the infographic, “We Do More Than Just Brew Beer.” Egorov completed it in December of 2014, so presumably they used it in either 2015 or 2016, since according to the artist’s description, his illustrations were for a corporate calendar. That’s one I would have liked.

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Beer In Ads #2143: You Hear It Everywhere … “Finest Beer Served … Anywhere!”


Sunday’s ad, and the first one for 2017, is for Pabst Blue Ribbon, from 1949. 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. I’ll be posting as many ads from this series as I could find all this month, but this first ad is something of a tease, showing ten of the ads to comes, which must have been originally a sort of ‘best of’ ad. But don’t despair if you can’t make out any of the stars in this ad, as I have larger versions of each of the photos shown here so that before January is over, you’ll know who each of them is, and why they were famous in the 1940s.

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