Pinky Pie

Radioactivity & Me

Posted on: January 13, 2011

Hang on to your computer – a major conversation turn is about to occur. I am moving from the radioactive political discussions about events in Tucson to (drum roll) – to radioactivity in the 1950s.

How in the world did those of us born in the 1950s ever grow up?  And how did we stay alive?

If we weren’t putting our feet in those x-ray machines in shoe stores over and over again to see what our inside toesies looked like, we were sitting too close to the television. And our parents all warned us about sitting too close could do terrible things – like eye strain and even worse radiation could get us even before the Boogie man.

The Straight Dope website, which apparently investigates such things, said, that “Prior to 1968 or so some sets emitted excessive X-rays, but that problem has now been eliminated.” There is concern about eyestrain today from all the devices we use, but not damage.

Radiation was a big fear in the 1950s and 1960s, a reason that my dad made us drink awful and I mean awful powdered milk. And as I’ve written before, with St. Louis the ground zero for how atomic bomb radiation flowed, there was a big study to see how badly us kids were affected by these rays through our baby teeth. I wrote about this study in this blog earlier:

It is an amazing story.

But a week or so ago I found still another radiation craziness from the 1950s – a television commercial in which a model wears radioactive dirt on her face to show the effectiveness of the Dorothy Gray Cold Cream.

TV party describes this commercial this way:

“As the commercial begins, our model is prancing around downtown in a fur coat, completely self-involved and checking her make-up because there are so many shops to go to. Later, in order to prove the cleansing power of Dorothy Gray Salon Cold Cream, her face is actually covered in radioactive dirt – verified with a Geiger counter.”

“Now that the woman’s skin is fully radioactive, simply clean with Dorothy Gray, and Voila! – the Geiger counter proves it, Dorothy Gray cleans better!”

Here’s a partial transcript of the 1955 commercial, which lasted more than a minute and a half and TV Party dubs as possibly the most outrageous commercial of all time:

Busy you. In and out-of-stores every day. Think about how much dust settles on your skin. And makeup clings to your face and clogs pores. That’s why your face needs a thorough cleansing each day and that’s why tests were made by an independent testing laboratory. This same kind of dirt was made just radioactive enough to register on a Geiger counter. Leading cleansing creams, complexion soaps and Dorothy gray salon cold cream were used to remove this dirt. The Geiger counter proved that Dorothy Gray salon cold cream cleanses up to two and a half times more thoroughly than any other cleansing cream or soap tested. When you cleanse with Dorothy gray cold cream you know you removed dirt and you remove every trace of makeup which can clog your pores. That’s why salon cold cream is especially recommended for a young complexion. A clean skin is a healthy skin and your skin will look smoother and clearly when you use Dorothy Gray Salon Cold Cream.”

Even better, according to the commercial, proper cleaning takes no longer than improper cleaning. What a relief.

Dorothy Gray Cosmetics apparently was one of the biggest in mid 20th century. It was an upscale line of beauty products.

I just hope the model for that commercial had good health insurance.

If you want to see the commercial go to:


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