In the late 1950s’, it was said that he was the most often seen person in all of advertising.
Throughout the advertising world, we saw him in magazines, television ads and on billboards. He was bare-chested with a cowboy hat on, looking back at us, giving a positive image that many would later learn was less than positive. His advertisement appeared on more billboards throughout the world than any previous advertisement in history. He had answered a casting call and received a standard fee of $300 for doing the ad. Weeks later, he would walk on Broadway in New York City, looked up to see his face posted on the side of a truck passing by. This cowboy…
Today, William Thourby is 88 years old and lives alone in a small room at the New York Athletic Club in New York City. He went on to have a small part in a play with Jane Mansfield and a bit part in a movie starring Frank Sinatra “The Manchurian Candidate”. In his own words, he described himself: “All my life I have been a loner.” He was the original Marlboro Man (cigarettes), but interestingly he said, “I never smoked or drank, and I certainly was not a cowboy.” If you ever saw the advertisement, it said just the opposite to you.
of the Marlboro Man on a billboard can give me a jolt of longing as I drive through
traffic on my way to work. I imagine that the way some men respond to the sight of a
woman in seamed stockings and a garter belt is the way I feel when I see a man in chaps.
The rough leather directs the eye up the legs to the place where the leather stops, just below
the groin. The tight-fitting jean, the boots with spurs, even the hat with it rakish, playful
shape contributes to the image that I find deeply appealing.”
(Sara Davidson--Cowboy:A Love Story)
Often we pass a lot of billboards in life, and what we are looking at and what is looking back at us is not always so. Often what we see is only an image someone wants us to believe. Billboard fame, just about any fame, can be very short lived and very fleeting.
Often images the world puts before us are just not so. That can also be true in what one sees in people.
“I certainly was no cowboy.”
June 9, 2016