In 1952, Rheingold Beer was fighting an uphill battle trying to raise the perception of beer as a classy drink, comparable to fine wine. Besides their famous yearly Miss Rheingold contest, whose emphasis was more on class than hubba-hubba, their advertising was built around celebrities describing how much they like Rheingold. In the February 6 issue of the New Yorker, Rosalind Russell, touring in the play Bell, Book, and Candle, the ad tells us, gushes on about her typical busy day of fittings, rehearsals, and entertaining friends for dinner. And, sure enough, there she is in a photo of her classy apartment with her classy friends sitting around a classy table with a big, brown, quart bottle of beer sitting right beside the silver candelabra. Good intentions, Rheingold, but it doesn’t quite work, even with Rosalind, a down-to-earth lady if ever there was one. Maybe if it was in a pitcher.
As a side note, Bell, Book, and Candle was the movie my wife and I saw on our first date. I don’t know what part Russell played in the stage version, but the movie version had newcomer Kim Novak as the young witch, the one Jimmy Stewart falls for. Later, Russell and Novak worked together in the classic movie Picnic. Russell’s supporting portrayal of the desperate old-maid school teacher, Rosemary, easily outshone Novak’s starring portrayal of the awakening beauty queen, Madge. Arthur O’Connell was a perfect match as Russell’s non-assertive, longtime bachelor boyfriend, Howard. Together, Rosemary and Howard stole the show.