I can't afford to take chances with my voice. I smoke Camels! They suit my throat and taste to a 'T'!
This comic-style advertisement features an endorsement from operatic tenor and Hollywood actor Mario Lanza (1921-1959). Born in the United States to Italian immigrant parents, he began his singing career at the age of 16 in local productions for the Philadelphia YMCA Opera Company. Though Lanza was a beautiful singer, the ad exaggerates his other faculties; The ad refers to Lanza as an “army vet,” when in actuality he did not fight on the line, but instead performed at various army bases during WWII. Additionally, the ad portrays Lanza unclothed save for a pair of briefs. He shows off his muscular build, and the copy text explains that he has an “imposing physique” because he was a weight lifter and a “high school athlete” in his early years. This portrayal of Lanza as athletic is quite the misrepresentation, as Lanza suffered from excessive and uncontrollable weight gain and overeating throughout his career, often times enraging his costume designers when the buttons of his costume wouldn’t fasten. Clearly, Camel wanted to associate its product with the young singer to emphasize the non-irritating aspects it claimed for Camels, but it wanted to take this a step further in making them seem healthy. Lanza also struggled with alcoholism and bankruptcy due to lavish spending habits, and his health declined rapidly. He was diagnosed with high blood pressure as well as phlebitis, an inflammation caused by a blood clot. He came down with double pneumonia after suffering from a minor heart attack, and passed away soon after from a pulmonary embolism, a blockage of the main artery of the lung, while undergoing a controversial weight loss program which required prolonged periods of sedation. His wife, Betty Lanza, passed away five months later at the age of 37 from what was described as a respiratory ailment.
Male, Mario Lanza, Military, Opera, Singer