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Monday, August 28, 2006


(Originally published in the INDEPENDENT, October, 2005)

by Jim McAllister

The date is January 1, 1971. At 11:59 p.m. on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson", a commercial runs for Virginia Slims cigarettes. This commercial is significant since it is the last advertisement for cigarettes ever run on television thus ending a long run of cute ads and jingles designed to impress the public with the virtues of smoking.
If you are a certain age, you probably remember most of these ads: There was, "I’d walk a mile for a Camel", "You get a lot to like with a Marlboro; filter, flavor, flip-top box" (You can also get lung cancer as two of the handsome, rugged, Marlboro men found out), "Smoke Kent with the micronite filter", and "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should". When chastised by English teachers for using bad grammar (using "like" instead of "as") Winston replied, "What do you want, good taste or good grammar?" I never heard the teachers complain about, "Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch" which is equally bad grammar. But, would smokers really care as long as they had their precious smokes? There was Willie the Penguin proclaiming: "Tired of hots? Smoke Kools", Oasis touting, "Smoke the big O", Old Gold with their dancing packs and on and on, ad infinitum.
When radio station KDKA in Pittsburgh came on the air with commercial radio in 1919, a new medium was established for companies to advertise their products. Cigarettes had been popular in print ads for years. Radio, and later television, would become natural outlets for their messages.
1933 was a fateful year for young 22 year old Johnnie Roventini. In April of that Depression racked year, Johnnie was a bellboy working at the Hotel New Yorker in New York City. Johnnie enjoyed a bit of fame as he was considered, at four feet in height, "the smallest bellboy in the world" and featured as such on the hotel’s postcards. One evening Alfred E. Lyon, Vice President of Sales for Philip Morris cigarettes and Milton Biow, President of the advertising agency that handled the Philip Morris account, happened to be in the lobby of the New Yorker. They had quite a task ahead of them: How to increase sales of a little known cigarette brand. They had already established a logo of a snappy bellboy shouting the merits of their brand but felt that they needed a live version to further establish the Philip Morris name. Enter Johnnie Roventini. As a bellboy, he was required to call out guest’s names in the lobby if those individuals had messages. A routine task for many, Johnnie poured his heart and soul into calling the guest’s names. He did it in such a convincing manner that he made the person feel like the most important person in the hotel! When Lyon and Biow heard Johnnie, they decided to give him a radio audition without letting him know. They gave him a dollar and asked him to page, "Mr. Philip Morris." After a few calls of "Call for Phil-lip Morr-ees" echoed through the New Yorker lobby, they knew they had their spokesman.
When offered the job of saying, "Call for Philip Morris" over the radio, Johnnie was a bit reluctant to accept. Radio was still fairly new and he was making $25 per week at the hotel, good money in 1933. He did eventually take the job and became an advertising icon for over forty years completing his Horatio Alger journey with his death at 88 in 1998.
bellhop in the world" was the spokesman
for Philip Morris cigarettes for over 40
years beginning in 1933. (
With radio, television, and print advertising, cigarettes had a stronghold on advertising for many years. The print ads from the past are actually comical to read now. Olympic swimmer and later TV star Buster Crabbe touted cigarettes as giving him "better wind" while training. Chesterfield once advertised that you should "smoke for health." Another brand boasted that they were "recommended by doctors."
Smoking and the media have been lifelong companions. Tobacco still spends $12.5 billion per year on promotion but in the period of 2000-2002, sales actually dropped 5.5%. Still, 2,000 kids per day are lighting their first cigarette. Peer pressure is strong with kids, nobody wants to be "weird." My advice to them? Being weird beats being dead. Don’t smoke! (Comments? Questions?
LUCILLE BALL...We all loved Lucy
and she loved her cigs. This 1953
print ad shows her pushing Philip
Morris. She and Johnnie made a
formidable team. (

Sunday, August 20, 2006


by Jim McAllister

Welcome to late August in the desert we love called Arizona. It hasn’t been as hot this summer as in some past years and we have actually had a few decent storms during the monsoon. Whatever the weather, it is still my favorite place to live. Here are a few thoughts that just happened to cross my mind recently.....I like Harvey Mackay’s syndicated weekly column. Last week he discussed thinking before speaking and mentioned several quotes from history that he considers really dumb. I disagree from the standpoint that although the quotes seem dumb now, they didn’t seem so ridiculous at the time. It’s easy to look back in retrospect and say , "Wow! That guy must have been nuts to say that!" If someone said in 1999 that oil would be over $70 per barrel in 2006, they would be laughed out of the room. Have you looked at the latest oil cost? Anyway, Harvey lists some good ones.
Why isn't he smiling? My advice: Stay
away from Buffalo. (Robert McMahan)
For example: In 1899 the guy who ran the U.S. Patent Office told President McKinley that he should close the Office because "Everything that can be invented has been invented." I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time as cars were arriving, the electric light was relatively new, aircraft was four years away and Marconi was working on that radio thingamajigger. What else could there possibly be? In 1949 Popular Mechanics magazine talked about the future of computers with the statement: "Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." Uh, huh. How about this doozy: Ken Olsen, president and co-founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, once said that "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home. The personal computer will fall flat on its face in business." I guess these guys should have followed the advice that a lawyer once gave me. When I asked him, "What should I say?" he replied, "Don’t say anything!".....
YANKEE STADIUM..."The House that Ruth
Built" will be history in a couple of years (Newsday)
There is a guy in New York named Ryan Leli who loves the New York Mets. Leli, 18, loves the Mets so much that he counterfeited press identification credentials to get into games and mingle with the players. He actually had a conversation with catcher Mike Piazza before the Mets brass got suspicious and contacted the cops. Leli is charged with possession of a forged document, larceny, impersonation, and a bevy of other stuff and could face seven years in prison if convicted. I think that what he did was pretty cool, kind of like the guy in Boston many years ago who used to stand above the tunnel to the players entrance at Fenway Park and snatch player’s hats. Hopefully Leli will only get a slap on the wrist and I admire him for his nerve. It would be a shame if he had to do time while O. J. still walks around free.....Speaking of baseball, believe it or not, Yankee Stadium is on its last legs. A new Yankee Stadium is being built next to the old one. So much for tradition and the great memories in the old place of Ruth, Mantle, Gehrig, and all the famous events that happened there since it was built in 1923 for $3 million. Nothing that involves the power freak that is Steinbrenner surprises me. Gee, George, now you can make even MORE money, like you really need it!.....
A KINKAJOU...cute little guy , huh?
He looks harmless, huh? Paris Hilton
thought so too until she was bitten.
I still love baseball and although I have resisted some of the changes made in the game, I do like the wild card. If you wonder about the value of it take a look at the division races in both leagues this year. The wild card is allowing a lot more teams to remain in the hunt thus keeping the fan’s interest. One change in baseball that I have never agreed with is having World Series games at night. It’s all about greed and selling out to television. They even wanted to put advertising on the bases a couple of years ago but refrained because of the uproar over such crass commercialization. It’s bad enough that they have all those ignorant ads behind home plate.....Former football star and Monday Night
C'mon Frank, you can smile a little more
than that. Yeah, I know (Starplus)
Football announcer Frank Gifford is 76 years old! It’s hard enough to be getting older but the poor guy has to look at and listen to Kathie Lee who claims to be 53. Frank was a cool Southern Cal guy in his youth and played many years in the NFL for the New York Giants. The famous 1958 championship game with the Baltimore Colts was not one of his best efforts but he had a nice career overall.....Flash! Paris Hilton update! She is resting comfortably while recovering from a bite from her pet kinkajou. At this moment you are asking, "What is a kinkajou?" The first time I ever heard of one was in the old 1961 pop tune from Charlie Drake called "My Boomerang Won’t Come Back". In the fourth verse of the song Drake sang: "I can ride a kangaroo (yeah! yeah!), Make kinkajou stew (yeah! yeah!), but I’m a big disgrace to the Aborigine race, my boomerang won’t come back." The kinkajou is a nocturnal, racoon like animal that is usually found in Central and South America. All rich heiresses simply must have one I guess. Oh, yeah, before I forget. The kinkajou is doing fine too.....Golf’s Ryder Cup is being played September 22-24 in Ireland. Go USA!.....(Comments? Questions? For "Rocky Mountain News" postings click "R.MT. News" in link section above.

Monday, August 14, 2006


by Jim McAllister

The tragedy of former Ohio State University running back Maurice Clarett continues. It is a sad story that would have seemed unlikely when he scored the winning touchdown in double overtime of the 2003 Fiesta Bowl to give Ohio State the National Championship.
Clarett, who will be 23 in October, has had a roller coaster existence since his famous touchdown. He was declared ineligible for the 2003 season after being charged with falsifying a police report concerning thousands of dollars of his supposed property being stolen from a car he had borrowed from a Columbus, Ohio dealership. He eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge. That incident ended his relationship with Ohio State so he attempted to enter the NFL. When his lawsuit against the NFL’s refusal to draft him failed, his life continued in its tailspin. An attempt to make the Denver Broncos in 2005 failed and in early 2006 he was charged with robbery of a man and a woman outside a Columbus bar. He has been free on bail since that time as he awaits trial which will now begin September 18. Last Wednesday Clarett was arrested by Columbus police in a violent confrontation that started with an illegal left turn by him. After subduing him by force, the police found four loaded weapons and a half consumed bottle of vodka in his vehicle. He was arrested in the vicinity of the home of one of the witnesses against him in the January robbery charge.
MAURICE CLARETT in happier times
before he was cut by the Denver Broncos
in 2005. Is he headed to the slammer
after his recent escapade? (Wash. Post)
Whew! That’s quite a portfolio for a guy not quite 23. It sounds like a redux of former Nebraska University star running back Lawrence Phillips. Phillips also had "star" written all over him but chose to pass into the dark side of life as it appears Clarett wishes to do.
You may ask: "What is it with these guys?" They pass up the chance for an education, fame, glory, and money to do stupid stuff like rob people of a cell phone. Perhaps it’s their background which has not geared them for the pressure of all that is expected of them. One of Clarett’s lawyers states that, "Universities make millions of dollars from kids and they don’t provide the necessary support and guidance to get through those still-adolescent years." To that comment, I say "baloney!". Coach Tressel of Ohio State claims that a "Herculean" effort was made to blend Clarett into college life and that he constantly resisted. I know that my friends and I never thought of robbery and carrying loaded guns in cars at Clarett’s age and we certainly didn’t have anyone advising us not to do it. We had an ingredient that you either have or don’t have and it’s called common sense. Who knows what’s the problem with Maurice Clarett? Whatever it is, I hope that he gets through it. Unfortunately, he may have a long time to think about it in a prison cell.
the Television Chronicles site at That funny looking
diagram on the TV screen is a "test pattern" from
the early days of television. (Television Chronicles)
On to more pleasant subjects....My friend and vintage television expert Ed Robertson has started a site with Bill Groves at These guys know all you would want to know about vintage TV, a subject that is near and dear to me and anyone else interested in the old days of the tube. Included on the site are interviews with stars of the past, information about old shows, book reviews, and other good stuff. Ed has written several books about TV shows including "The Rockford Files" and "The Fugitive". Bill has extensive experience in the magazine business. I’ve looked over the site and highly recommend it.....So, what is BP up to? In case you didn’t know "BP" stands for "British Petroleum". They don’t seem to like to use "British" anymore so I thought I would mention it for them. Why would they let their Alaska pipeline deteriorate to the point where it was 80% rotted out with corrosion in certain places? Perhaps by avoiding the cost of repair it helped contribute to BP’s profits of $7 billion in the second quarter of 2006. The area of the pipeline that sprung a leak had not been inspected for 29 years! With these guys around, who needs terrorists to destroy the pipeline. Maybe Walt Kelly’s Pogo was correct all those years ago when he proclaimed, "We have met the enemy and he is us.".....
The new Cardinals' Stadium in Glendale, AZ.
The NFL has prohibited local camera crews
from recording footage of NFL games, just
another revenue stream gimmick for the league.
It is almost time for the National Football League season to begin and already they have dropped the ball. Greed is a terrible thing and nothing exemplifies this more than the NFL’s decision to ban local camera crews from covering the games and recording footage for local viewing. It has caused an uproar in the journalistic field and I don’t blame them. The reasons for the banning according to the NFL: The league says the sidelines are getting too crowded. Of course they are with all the "hangers-on" taking up space. Run them off, not the guys that have a legitimate reason to be there. They also say that it will stop unauthorized use of game video. Translation: It is another way for the league to suck in more revenue, what a joke. In case they forgot, and it seems that they have, all NFL stadiums but one are publicly financed. When the supply of football someday exceeds the demand, the public will have their say and the NFL may not like what they hear.....Thanks for stopping by, see you next week.....Comments? Questions?

Sunday, August 06, 2006


by Jim McAllister

Barb and I had a great week in Del Mar, California. Beautiful beaches, great race track loaded with celebrity history, and some nice casinos made for a lot of fun and relaxation. We even had a little rain one day which to most people would be a vacation spoiler but to us "zonies", it was a luxury we seldom get to enjoy. One thing that takes some getting used to on our yearly sojourn to the San Diego area is the California drivers. The other day I was going down a freeway with a 65 mph speed limit so I figured, "Well, it’s California, so I guess 80 ought to be about right for the left lane. About two minutes later a guy in a truck went around me on the right pointing at me telling me to move to the right. He had to be going 95. Life on the left coast; you gotta love it.....
THE McCOYS...Rick Derringer's band from 1965.
Their big hit was "HANG ON SLOOPY" from Octo-
ber of that year. Rick is second from bottom,
he recently turned 59 and is still at it. (Rhapsody.
Rick Derringer just turned 59 years old. He was the founder, at age 17, of the mid ‘60s rock group, The McCoys (big hit: "Hang On Sloopy"). He went on to do some work with Johnny and Edgar Winter and is probably best remembered for his 1971 hit, "Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo", a classic for rock fans. What makes this more significant is that CNBC, the business channel, is running ads for Fidelity Investments featuring Derringer singing "Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo." It’s a hilarious ad, check it out.....Speaking of birthdays, Loni Anderson just turned 60. Wasn’t she something on WKRP back in the 1970's? Also, Mr. Whipple (Dick Wilson) of Charmin toilet paper fame from many years ago is now 90.....I would hate to be an American factory worker. Many are uneducated but have had good careers through hard work and loyalty to their respective companies. They have made a fair wage, lived a decent lifestyle, and provided for their families. All of a sudden, that lifestyle is being threatened by a word that didn’t even exist a few years ago, "outsource". It’s all part of a "global economy" and has to be a huge worry for many in this country.....I never get tired of Turner Classic Movies. Yesterday was a full day of Humphrey Bogart flicks. Among them was the movie that got Bogie over the hump from "B" to "A" status, "High Sierra" from 1941. It was the last film he made where he didn’t receive top billing (Ida Lupino did). His next movie wasn’t much ("The Wagons Roll at Night") but then it was on to "The Maltese Falcon" and his biggie, "Casablanca". It was stardom from then on until his death at age 57 in January of 1957......
DANICA PATRICK...Will be driving
for the Andrettis next season. She
has improved lately with a couple
of fourths. (
There was a rumor that Indy race car driver Danica Patrick was going to defect to NASCAR next year. It turned out not to be true as she signed with the Andretti team and left Letterman-Rahal. She gets a lot of press for someone who appears to be average at best at what she does. Is it because she is a woman race driver and that is considered unique? Is it because she had a chance to win the Indianapolis 500 a couple of years ago and the fame from that is still carrying over? Whatever it is, she seems like a sharp lady and I hope she does well without injury in what is a very dangerous sport.....Mel Gibson joins the list of Hollywood stars to be nailed on the 101 or the Pacific Coast Highway. He joins Robert Downey, Jr., Nick Nolte, Shannen Doherty, and Bridget Fonda among others to have incidents on that road. It doesn’t help that Mel was going 87 miles per hour with a bottle of tequila between his knees at 2:30 in the morning. Once again the question pops up: "What was he thinking?".....MTV is now 25 years old! I used to really enjoy that channel when it debuted with "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles" in 1981. They had VJ’s like Martha Quinn, J. J. Jackson, and Mark Goodman playing all the videos to the hits of the day, great stuff. Now, it all seems immature and silly and I don’t think it is because I have gotten older. I think they have bad programming.....
MARTHA QUINN...A real cutie VJ from the early
days of MTV. (
TOM CRUISE...Keeping Suri under
wraps. Tom was once a member of
a Franciscan seminary (
What is the deal with Tom Cruise’s kid Suri? It seems that only some of Tom’s Scientology friends are being permitted to see the little guy. What is the big secret? Isn’t it just another baby from another ego inflated Hollywood star? Cruise should be happy that anything he does is still in demand. At 44 he is not getting any younger or cooler with the clientele he is seeking. At 5 feet 7 he is never going to be dark, handsome, AND tall. His movies aren’t the blockbusters they used to be either.....Tiger Woods just won another golf tournament, ho-hum. That is tournament win number 50 for him and he is just 30. I really like Tiger, he is a great champion and appears to be a really good guy.....The clock is ticking and number one draft pick Matt Leinart still is not in the Arizona Cardinals training camp.....
winner of the Tour De France
Why would Floyd Landis take performance enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France when he knew that he would be tested afterward? Greg LeMond and Lance Armstrong, where are you when we need you?.....Woody Allen’s latest film, "Scoop", seems to be doing well. I have always been a fan of Allen’s style and I’m glad to see that he is starring in his latest effort and has the gorgeous and talented Scarlett Johansson along for another appearance. She was great in Allen’s "Match Point" from last year..... The critics seem to generally dislike "Miami Vice". That’s not surprising as the TV show was mediocre at best back in the 1980's.....That’s it for now, thanks for stopping by and come back next week. JM (Comments? Questions?