Thursday, December 3, 2009

1960s Vintage Pan Am Ads & Editorials

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These 1960s Pan American Airlines ads are intensely charming.... at a first glance.


Must be single! A thing like that! Reminds me of a line from the series premier of Mad Men:

"He may act like he wants a secretary, but most of the time they're looking for something between a mother and a waitress. And the rest of the time, well... Go home, take a paper bag and cut some eye holes out of it. Put it over your head, look in the mirror and try and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. And try and be honest."

Take a gander at that very scene HERE.

For the series to begin that way, for that line to appear in the opening moments of the first episode of the first season of the series, is telling. It gave the viewers a peak into the overriding mentality of the era ... and the crudeness of this speech, from a woman to another woman, didn't even take race into consideration - in fact, there have only been three portrayals of African-American women on Mad Men (that I can remember): Sheila White, who appeared in 2 episodes as the girlfriend of a left-wing copywriter. It was posited that he dated her only to add credibility to his Bohemian image. Carla, the maid of the main character's family. And a woman whose name I don't remember. She was the friend of the main character, Don Draper's, then hippie, beatnik mistress, Midge.

The remaining copy in the 1968 stewardess ad is unremarkable. Sure, the specs concerning height and weight may be jarring to us now, but to be a flight attendant today, similar restrictions are in place...

Oh, how times have changed....?

The rest of the ads ARE wonderful. They're aspirational, they appeal to our need to feel that what we do is special.

Does the model in the ad above not resemble Chanel Iman or a young Kimora Lee?

Pan Am not only sought consumers of color; the company's progressive culture permeated all levels of the organization.

Here, two brief articles from 1968 and 1964, respectively, demonstrate Pan Am's diversity in a time when such was neither expected, nor required.

Up Next: More in the Vintage Black Weddings series... and to break that up, I'm beginning a new series called Vintage Black Voters and Politicians. I was researching black voters and politicians from the 1950s and 1960s with the intention of doing a medium length post, but found such and abundance of material that it, completely independent of any will of mine, insisted on spilling over into its own series. So I'll be dedicating 4 or 5 posts to the topic! I've very excited for it to begin.

Also, I'll be feature Black movie posters from the 1950s & 1960s, and vintage ads from Playtex and Budweiser!

Thank you for reading.

Don't forget to visit b.vikki vintage on Etsy!


  1. but what magazines were these ads appearing in? context would be useful here.

    keep up the good work.

  2. I always tag the magazine at the bottom of the post or mention it in the text. Check the tags of back posts.

    These are from Ebony Magazine. Images from other posts are from Ebony, Jet, Sepia, and Tan magazines, the Chicago Defender, online archives, books... various publications.

    I'll try to make it more explicit in the future.

    Thanks for the suggestion and thanks for reading.

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  5. Thanks for sharing these! I'm trying to do the same thing with my blog -- find vintage images of Asian Americans (and Asians) that are not exotified or otherwise problematic (in other words, vintage images that don't make me want to slam my head over and over on my desk). The stewardess ad is very interesting. In the early 1990s, I read an article (I think it was in Nat'l Geographic) about airline attendants that included a photo of them in make up class, putting on mascara. I have no idea if they still have to attend what basically amounts to charm school, but it's weird to think that there were such retrograde standards applied to these women just 15 years ago.
    the renegade bean

  6. omg i thought that was chanel iman!lol!

  7. Great blog! I didn't know Pan Am was recruiting flying geishas! ;-)

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  9. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing :)

  10. Indeed it is a good post, very useful information.

  11. I have read those news years ago, I still remember them, I usually keep paper cuts as memories, well mostly like a hobby of big news that change something into the society.