Boomers Say a Fond Goodbye to More Icons of the Era

This past week two bright lights of boomer pop culture were extinguished. Both were women whose names were hardly household words in the lives of boomers, yet boomers definitely knew of their work: Janet Waldo, the voice of Judy Jetson; and Margaret Vinci Heldt, the creator of the Beehive hairdo.

Janet Waldo 1920-2016
Janet Waldo broke into acting as a teenager with bits parts in films like What a Life (1939) and on radio shows throughout the 1940s. In 1943 she became the star of the radio show, Meet Corliss Archer, playing the role of the title character, a 15 year old girl-next-door. Her teenage girl roles would follow her throughout her career. She went on to appear on radio shows including The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and more than 100 animated and TV shows, including I Love Lucy (1952), The Phil Silvers Show (1955) and Get Smart (1966), to name only a few.

Janet Waldo became best-known to boomers as the voice of animated characters, most notably, Judy Jetson in the original The Jetsons TV show (1962). The animated show ran one season, but remained in syndication through 1983. In 1985 new episodes were created, then a TV movie, Rockin’ With Judy Jetson — with Janet as Judy — debuted in 1988. She reprised her role as Judy Jetson in Jetsons: The Movie (1990), but after her part was recorded, she was replaced by Tiffany when the studio decided the pop star would help the movie at the box office. She was quoted as saying she was hurt by the slight, and felt it was disloyal of Hanna-Barbera. Yet she expressed her gratitude for the relationship she had had with the studio and continued to work.

Throughout the the 1960s and ’70s and into the ’80s, Janet continued to lend her voice to cartoons. Among boomer favorite shows where she voiced a character were: The Atom Ant Show (1965); as mother-in-law Pearl Slaghoople on The Flintstones; as Penelope Pitstop on Wacky Races (1968); and Josie McCoy in Josie and the Pussycats (1970).

Her last credit was a voice role on an episode of King of the Hill in 1998. At 96 years old, Janet was the last surviving cast member of the original Jetsons. For boomers everywhere, she will always be Judy Jetson to us.

Margaret Vinci Heldt 1918- 2016
The world will remember Margaret Vinci Heldt for giving us the Beehive hairdo. She broke into the hairdressing industry in the late 1930, and by the 1950s, had her own hair salon — Margaret Vinci Coiffures — on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. She won the National Coiffure Championship in 1954, and through her industry accolades, was asked to contribute to Modern Beauty Shop Magazine on many occasions. In 1960, the magazine wanted to talk about the new decade and what hairstyles might look like, so they asked Margaret to come up with something new and different. Popular hairstyles in the 1950s were dominated by the Pageboy, Flip and French twist, so Margaret wondered if it was time to try something on top of the head. She said she was inspired by a pillbox hat that she owned. She had always wanted to create a hairstyle that the hat could be worn with, so the Beehive was born.

The new ‘do caught on in a big way throughout the early-to-mid 1960s with young film stars and top music stars, including Brigitte Bardot, Priscila Presley, the Ronettes, Audrey Hepburn, Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Jane Fonda and many more. After disappearing for a while, the hairdo is popular with celebrities once again. We have seen the B-52s (of course), Marge Simpson, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, Penelope Cruz, Adele, Katy Perry, the late Amy Winehouse and many others, all sporting versions of the Beehive.

Mister Boomer enjoyed the Jetsons, but has to admit he wasn’t a great fan of the Judy Jetson character. George, Rosie and Astro were his favorite characters. Through the years, though, he certainly learned to admire the vocal greats of the era, especially the female greats like Janet Waldo and June Foray.

As to the Beehive, Mister Boomer has first-hand recollection. Not only did his mother don a Beehive in the 1960s, he had several cousins who also wore the ‘do in their high school pictures. Early boomers were teenagers when the Beehive appeared, so the timing was right for boomer girls to grab onto the latest hair fashions. As such, Mister B recalls the neighborhood girl who often babysat for Mister B and his siblings perpetually wore a Beehive; the hairdo just fit certain people or personalities. Though Mister B knew his cousins without their high school Beehives for decades after, the babysitter will forever be frozen in time with shellacked hair rising above her head.

What memories of Judy Jetson or Beehive hairdos do you have, boomers?

Wrapping Up Another Great Boomer Year

It’s common this time of year for critics to compose their Top 10 lists regarding the year that is about to pass into history. Mister Boomer, his own biggest critic, wanted to get in on that annual custom, so here is his own Top 10 list. These are his favorite posts from the past year; because they injected a bit of fun into the boomer landscape, otherwise directly addressed the mission of or just because he felt they were worth a re-read. He hopes you enjoy looking back at these tidbits with nostalgia and interest, whether they are an encore presentation or you’re seeing them for the first time. They are listed here in the chronological order in which they appeared in 2013:

Looking for Fun and Feelin’ Groovy
Mister B recalls purchasing his first pair of bell bottom pants in 1967 while trying to figure out how to remain fashionably relevant in the 21st century.

Hey Baby, They’re Playing Our Song
From his father singing in the supermarket in the 1960s to instantly remembering lyrics to 50-year-old songs while shopping in 2013, Mister Boomer takes a walk down a melodic aisle of memories.

Talking Animals Sold Cereal to Boomers
As a literally growing demographic, the Boomer Generation became a target for advertisers on TV. Since we were youngsters, that meant two things that we could sway our parents to buy us: toys and cereal. The latter was often advertised during the Saturday morning cartoon schedule. To appeal to us even more, the cereal marketers created cartoon characters to represent their products. Here is a overview of some of the grrreat cereal mascots that made us cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

Boomers and the Singularity: One Was the Only Number
For most baby boomers, one wasn’t the loneliest number, it was the only number when it came to several things in their lives, including cars, TVs and ONE dinner time. Mister Boomer explored the “ones” in our early days in two parts; the second addressed telephones and bathrooms (Boomers and the Singularity: One Was the Only Number — Part 2).

Boomers Learned to Wait
We boomers learned at an early age that good things come to those who wait. Mister Boomer explores the differences between our days of anticipation and today’s on-demand lifestyle.

Boomers are Helping to Seal the Fate of the Envelope
There are many things that were necessities in our day that either have no use, or diminishing use, today. Among them is the number 10 envelope. Mister B recalls the heyday of this boomer-era workhorse that is now all but put to pasture.

Boomer-Era Dashboards: Testing Our Metal
Mister Boomer conjures up memories of metal dashboards on cars — stylish, utilitarian and scorching hot in the summer sun, not to mention the safety concerns.

Boomers Loved That Beatles Hairstyle
As soon as The Beatles landed in the U.S. in 1964, their moptop haircut made news. Here Mister Boomer relayed information on the origins of The Beatles’ haircut, and it’s cultural influence throughout the boomer years.

Boomers Gave the Peace Sign More Than a Chance
Not every boomer knew that what we called “the peace sign” was originally a symbol invented for an anti-nuclear organization. Mister B explores the history of the iconic symbol that still survives today.

Boomers Watched the Events Surrounding the Assassination of JFK
This year marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. There isn’t a boomer anywhere who doesn’t recall the events surrounding November 22, 1963. Mister Boomer adds his story to the narrative that permeates our generation.

We hope you’ve flashed back to some great memories while reading Mister Boomer’s musings this past year, and will remain a frequent visitor in the coming year.

Happy Holidays from Mister Boomer!