The story of the Heir

The Heir ad for Bank of America by Jack Allen, photographer and Ad Taylor, art directorHere’s a little story about the creative process, back in the days when such a thing was possible.

One day in the 1960s Jack Allen and I were having one of our peri­odic, vinous, Friday lunches at Venetos, near his studio. After copious amounts of red wine, I mentioned the agency’s (Johnson & Lewis) urgent need to come up with a savings ad for Bank of America. our largest client.
Savings ads were noto­ri­ously and inher­ently boring, but I had the glim­mering of an idea.

Ad : “Jack, what if we had the reading of a will, with all the rich uncle’s house­hold gath­ered in the lawyer’s office ? Maybe we could use Belli’s office.”

Jack : “We could cast it right now. Let’s get a phone.”

Between us, we came up with the cast :
The lawyer : Wally Brazeal, an ad rep, perched on the edge of Belli’s desk, looking lawyerly.
The widow : a very proper older model from Ann Demeter’s agency, with lorgnette and fox fur.
The heir : A young nephew, played by Tom Rice, an art student, in preppy horn rims.
The butler : Mr. Lancaster, formerly of the French Opera Company, tall, white haired elderly gent in full butler’s regalia.
The chauf­feur : Homer Welch in proper livery, carrying the widow’s Pekinese dog.
The mistress : Pat Mahan, model from Al Duartís agency, ravish­ingly sexy in bouf­fant blond wig, black dress, pearls, cigaret holder, and a fabu­lous fur from Roberts Brothers.
Everyone except the lawyer and the heir looked pissed off, including the Pekinese.

The heir was beaming, he was getting the money !
When we called to get permis­sion to use his office, Belli was enthu­si­astic.
We sched­uled the shoot for Saturday morning, the next day. Milt Halber­stadt signed on as lighting consul­tant. Belli came with his infant son, Caesar.
The shoot went well. We got the film rushed to processing. We took Pat, still in char­acter, to the Temple Bar where a boyfriend tended bar. He didn’t recog­nize her at first.

Sunday I wrote the copy.
Monday morning I sent out for a rush C-​print and spec­i­fied the type. Monday after­noon, I pasted up of the finished comp.

Bright and early Tuesday morning, I took the ad into Dan Lewis’ office.
Dan : “Where the hell did this come from?”
Ad : “Jack Allen and I ran it off over the weekend.”
Dan : “How much are you in for on this?”
Ad : “I figure about $3,000 in expenses.”
Dan : “I better take this up to the Bank myself.”

He did and presented it to Charlie Stuart, BofA vice pres­i­dent for adver­tising.
Charlie loved it. (Thank God!)
It ran a long time, won an award in the L.A. Art Director’s show, and I think everyone got paid.
Ad Taylor

One thought on “The story of the Heir”

  1. Helen says:

    Great story about the free swirling of creativity (and wine). Can’t think of any current ad that would compare !

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