This Star-Studded 1959 TV Episode Is What All Advertising Should Be

In Depth

In a 1959 installment of the anthology series Playhouse 90 entitled “The Big Party,” “some of the most glamorous names in show business” were invited to a black tie affair hosted by, who else, Rock Hudson and Tallulah Bankhead. The show is smartly written and surprisingly funny, even today. Just watch the opening banter between Tallulah and all the A-listers she speaks to on the phone! As my coworker Kelly said, “The woman is a goddamn pro.”

But beyond all the witty dialogue and show-stopping performances, the episode is most notable because it’s just, well, a 90-minute advertisement for Revlon. This wasn’t uncommon for television programs in the 50s, but is surprising—and entertaining—to watch in 2015.

You won’t find any traditional commercial breaks during “The Big Party” (by Revlon), but you’ll be treated to plenty of incredible transitions from television episode to television advertisement, as one of the party guests just happens to be Revlon spokeswoman Barbara Britton.

While the other guests mingle and watch A-listers like Sammy Davis Jr. perform, Barbara spends her time finding ways to sneak Revlon products into all her conversations. She’s a party hijacker, really – and watching her work is nothing short of marvelous. The entire episode is 90 minutes long, but we’ve put together a short compilation of all of Barbara’s best transitions in case you don’t feel like watching the whole thing (though you probably wouldn’t be disappointed).

We don’t see Barbara casually using Revlon hairspray, we watch her sell it—aggressively, I might add—to the woman who’s ready to walk out on the windy balcony. We don’t see a brief shot of Revlon deodorant in Barbara’s medicine cabinet, we see her visit the dang Revlon R&D department and learn how it’s made. (Don’t forget, we’re supposed to be at Rock Hudson’s house.) Television advertising at its most delightful peak.

Images via screengrab.

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