Boomers Say Good-Bye to Two More Influencers

This week two icons of the boomer era passed away: Doris Day and Peggy Lipton. Both of these women recorded albums and both of them were actresses, but the two could hardly be more different. The contrast between them happens to illustrate the evolution of the Boomer Generation from the 1950s into the 1960s.

Doris Day
Though she started singing at an early age, Mary Ann Von Kappelhoff wanted to be a dancer. Her training would come in handy years later, on the silver screen. Nonetheless, she began singing at 15, which lead to her first record contract in 1947. Singing with several Big Bands, Doris Day became popular with servicemen during WWII and later, Korea.

She had a bona fide hit with Sentimental Journey in 1945, recording with Les Brown and His Band Of Renown. The song became a symbol for servicemen returning home. Her first foray into acting came in 1948 in the film, Embraceable You.

In the early 1950s, she starred in a series of musicals, in which she acquired the wholesome image of the girl next door. She attempted to jettison her image by accepting grittier, dramatic roles, including starring opposite Jimmy Stewart in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much in 1956. Her last film was With Six You Get Eggroll (1968).

While her acting career took off, she never stopped singing and recording. One of her biggest hits, Que Sera Sera, released in 1956, was used in the movie Please Don’t Eat the Daisies (1960) and The Glass Bottom Boat (1966). In 1968, it became her theme song for The Doris Day Show (1968-73) on TV.

Her real life was anything but the perfect world of the wholesome girl she portrayed on screen. She married four times, and in her autobiography stated that there was never any intention of projecting any image at all, by either herself or her publicist.

Peggy Lipton
While Doris Day began her singing career at age 15, Peggy Lipton started modeling at the same age. Her first acting job came at age 19, and she soon appeared on a variety of TV shows, including The John Forsythe Show (1965), Bewitched (1965) and The Virginian (1966).

Most boomers, however, will remember Peggy Lipton for the TV show that catapulted her to popular fame: The Mod Squad (1968-73), in which three young, groovy outsiders became undercover agents for the police. Ironically airing the same years as The Doris Day Show, Mod Squad, was one of the earliest shows to have a multiracial cast (tagline, “One white, one black, one blonde”) and one of the first TV shows to depict the counterculture that was growing among boomers. As a result, she became a fashion icon with her flower child image: long, straight blonde hair and bell bottom pants. Capitalizing on her TV fame, she released her first album of mostly covers in 1968, from which she had a hit single with Donovan’s Wear Your Love Like Heaven. She released a second album in 1970.

Ms. Lipton married music producer-legend Quincy Jones in 1974 and they divorced in 1990.

In later years, boomers saw her in a variety of movies and TV appearances. Most notably, she came back as a regular character in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks (1989-91). In Angie Tribeca (2017), she played the role of the mother to the show’s title star, her real-life daughter with Quincy Jones, Rashida Jones.

As far as Mister Boomer was concerned, Doris Day was more for his parents’ generation. Granted, she was a terrific singer and actress of that time, but Mister B much preferred Peggy Lipton in The Mod Squad. Mister B did not hear any of Peggy Lipton’s records in his earlier years. She was definitely better on screen than on record.

What memories do you have about Doris Day and Peggy Lipton, boomers?

Boomers Were All Washed Up

During the boomer years, bar soaps were consumer products that were heavily advertised and promoted. As with toothpaste, hair products and laundry detergent, advertisers knew that boomer families had a history of staying loyal to specific soap brands, and they wanted to do everything in their power to win and keep that loyalty.

From the 1940s, ’50s, and into the ’60s, the advertising emphasis for many of these soaps was mostly about beauty and skin; using these products was going to make your skin smoother and make you look younger. Ads often mentioned lotions or special ingredients that gave their products that little something extra that the others did not have, and often cited scientists or doctors in the process. Surely the ads were not going to mention sweat and body cleansing for women who dusted the house in dresses and high heels? These ads were aimed not at the working class father, but at new boomer mothers. More than a dozen brands were marketed in that manner, including Lux, Camay, Dove and Palmolive, to mention a few. Ivory soap went its own way, sticking with their decades-old slogan of “99 and 44/100 percent pure.” This soap’s appeal played on boomer mothers’ desire for the best products to use on their new babies, but while they were at it, the ads would suggest, the soap was great for mom’s complexion, too.

Another exception to marketing soap as part of a beauty routine was by Dial soap. Dial, introduced in 1948 by Armour & Company (yes, the meat packers), was a true boomer product. By 1953, the company adopted the slogan most boomers will remember, “Aren’t you glad you use Dial? Don’t you wish everybody did?” Billed as an anti-bacterial soap, their ad marketing path went directly to the heart — or rather, nose — of the problem of daily cleanliness. They did, however, point to special chemical agents called “Super AT-7” that claimed made their anti-bacterial soap more effective than other brands.

The company was sold to Greyhound (yes, the bus company) in 1970 and since then was spun off into a consumer product division of its own. Unfortunately for Dial, the FDA banned some of the ingredients used in the manufacturing of the soap in the 1970s. Researchers were able to reformulate the soap with government-accepted ingredients and it continues to be sold today.

Mister Boomer’s household was loyal to toothpaste, but bar soap was a different story. The family seemed to stick with one brand for a few months, and then went on to another. Mister B thinks it probably had something to do with what was on sale that particular week. Mister B recalls seeing Ivory early on, when his sister was very young, then at one point or another, Lux and Lifebuoy and others. In later years, Irish Spring made an appearance, as did a bar just for his mother’s use: Dove. His father kept a bar of Lava soap in the basement, by the laundry sink, for cleaning up after car or yard work.

Dial soap was an exception for the family in that Mister B’s household did use it for an extended period of time. It mattered what was in the soap dish because the one bar was for the entire family’s use. Mister B recalls the yellow-orange color of the Dial bar that came in the gold wrapper. It was like it was a the precursor to the 1970s Harvest Gold rush. The smell was not to Mister B’s liking, but what his father bought was what the family used. Consequently, Mister B didn’t buy a bar of soap until he moved out.

Were you held captive to using the one family soap, boomers, or did you have your own?