Documentary Shows Stars of 50's and 60's TV Commercials

Published: Wed Aug 24 2005

LOS ANGELES – The DVD documentary "Madison Avenue Fever"(60 minutes) is an entertaining and informative look at the birth and development of television commercials in the 50's and 60's, the period known as the "golden age of television."

Television was regarded as a new-found wonder box that consumers were buying by the millions, and advertisers were anxious to capture their share of the growing audience. Television advertising had a major influence on the baby boomer generation, and had a powerful influence on the nation.

Hosted by R.J. Thomas, "Madison Avenue Fever" features clips of some of the funniest, corniest, entertaining, memorable, and influential commercials ever made. More than just entertainment through fond memories, Thomas explains the historic aspects of the new media outlet that caused panic in the radio industry as advertisers turned to television.

Remember the Ajax knight on horseback, the happy kid who learns he has no cavities after brushing with Crest, and so many other commercials that have become a part of American heritage and imbedded in the memories of baby boomers?

The clips feature many stars of the time, including Howdy Doody, Phil Silvers, Ozzie Nelson, Don Knotts as Barney Fife, Groucho Marx and his brothers Chico and Harpo, the Monkees, Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger, and even Bugs Bunny and the Flintstones.

Those were the days when tobacco companies were some of the most prominent advertisers on television, and all the top stars and sports celebrities of the time were seen promoting their favorite brands.

"‘The Flintstones’ began as an adult show on prime time television. Of course the Flintstones eventually switched to vitamins, but in 1962 Fred and Barney were shown puffing on Winstons," explained Thomas.

Stars like Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Dick Van Dyke, and sports heroes like the Red Sox legend Ted Williams are all seen promoting their favorite brands in "Madison Avenue Fever."

Thomas takes viewers on an entertaining, educational, and historic journey through the land of television advertising of yesteryear. He shows how advertisers tempted viewers with everything from cigarettes, sporty cars for men, miracle appliances for women, and all the latest toys for the kids.

The DVD is available at

About R.J. Thomas
R.J. Thomas is a California-based filmmaker and author. His films include Man the Guns, The Saturday Afternoon Serial, Western Flickers, and The Good News. His books include The Great Transatlantic Race, The Fate of Generations, The First Target, Not for Evil, Along the Coconut Coast, Gain by Violence, Treasures on Earth, and the Top Secret UFO Project. He has worked for Freedom Productions as an actor, appearing in Paradise and Of a Common Bond. He is also the creator of the books-on-tape I Write a Mystery.

R.J. Thomas

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