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Beer In Ads #3957: The First Miss Rheingold

Saturday’s ad is for “Rheingold Beer,” from 1940. This ad was made for the Rheingold Brewery, which was founded by the Liebmann family in 1883 in New York, New York. At its peak, it sold 35% of all the beer in New York state. In 1963, the family sold the brewery and in was shut down in 1976. In 1940, Philip Liebmann, great-grandson of the founder, Samuel Liebmann, started the “Miss Rheingold” pageant as the centerpiece of its marketing campaign. Beer drinkers voted each year on the young lady who would be featured as Miss Rheingold in advertisements. In the 1940s and 1950s in New York, “the selection of Miss Rheingold was as highly anticipated as the race for the White House.” The winning model was then featured in at least twelve monthly advertisements for the brewery, beginning in 1940 and ending in 1965. But according to another account, it was initially the idea of the management team for Spanish-American actress and model Jinx Falkenburg who convinced the brewery to make her the first Miss Rheingold. But beginning in 1941, the selection of next year’s Miss Rheingold was instituted and became wildly popular in the New York Area. This one is, as far as I can tell, the first ad that Rheingold did in 1940 featuiring Jinx Falkenburg.

Falkenburg was born to American parents in Barcelona, Spain; her father Eugene “Genie” Lincoln Falkenburg was an engineer for Westinghouse. Thinking the name would bring good luck, she was nicknamed Jinx by her mother Marguerite “Mickey” Crooks Falkenburg, an athlete and tennis player (Brazil women’s champion in 1927), and the name stuck.[page needed][4] All the Falkenburg offspring became known for their tennis abilities; younger brother Bob won the men’s singles championship at Wimbledon in 1948.

The family moved to Santiago, Chile, where she spent her early years. She first received media attention at age two when The New York Sun ran a full-page picture and story of her exploits as a “baby swimmer.”[4] A revolution in Chile caused the family to return to the United States and they moved to Los Angeles, California. She attended Hollywood High School but left in 1935 at the age of 16 to pursue a career in acting and modeling.

The Falkenburgs were at the center of a young social set at the West Side Tennis Club in Hollywood. While playing tennis there she was noticed by a talent scout for Warner Bros. and signed to a studio contract. After a few brief walk-ons, her fluency in Spanish won her minor roles in a series of Spanish-language films made for distribution in Latin America.

In 1937 her modeling career began when she met celebrity fashion photographer Paul Hesse,[4] whose Sunset Strip studio was a gathering place for advertising moguls and motion picture industry celebrities. Calling her “the most charming, most vital personality I have ever had the pleasure to photograph”, he took her picture for the August 1937 cover of The American Magazine, triggering similar offers from 60 other publications. Falkenburg appeared on over 200 magazine covers and in some 1,500 commercial advertisements in the 1930s and 1940s. She was considered to be one of the most beautiful women of that era, known for her All-American-Girl athletic good looks. The New Yorker magazine said she “possessed one of the most photogenic faces and frames in the Western world”.[8] The New York World-Telegram said her face was seen more often and in more places than any other woman in the country. And a headline story in the January 27, 1941, issue of Life magazine said Falkenburg “is the leading candidate for America’s No. 1 Girl for 1941”.

In 1939 she was in Hawaii posing for photographer Edward Steichen for a series of ads for the Hawaiian Steamship Company’s Matson Line when she fell through a balcony at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and landed 30 feet below on a dining room table. While in the hospital recovering from her injuries, she was introduced to singer Al Jolson, who was also convalescing there. Jolson offered her a role in his upcoming Broadway show Hold On to Your Hats, which opened in January 1940. Though her part as a cowgirl was small, she attracted much attention. Fans started gathering nightly at her dressing room door at the Shubert Theater, forming the core of what would become the Jinx Falkenburg Fan Club, the only national fan club not devoted to a movie star.

Her biggest breakthrough as a model came in 1940 when she was picked by New York-based Liebmann Brewery, maker of Rheingold Beer, to be the first Miss Rheingold. As the face for its marketing and advertising campaign, her image appeared on billboards throughout New York, Pennsylvania, and New England., and she was featured in promotional ads at every store that sold Rheingold. Her face and the campaign were a great success. Rheingold was suddenly the top brand in New York City.

In the early 1940s she did a dozen movies, mainly for Columbia Pictures, sometimes in the starring role. Mostly B movies, neither they nor her acting garnered much critical acclaim. Among them were Two Latins from Manhattan, Sweetheart of the Fleet, Laugh Your Blues Away, She Has What It Takes, Two Senoritas From Chicago, and Nine Girls. The biggest hit was Cover Girl, a musical about the modeling business that starred Rita Hayworth, wit

You can read the rest of her history on her Wikipedia page.

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