After his mother died from cancer, Dr. Robert Jackler of Stanford University worked through his grief by searching out print tobacco ads from the '20s through the '50s. Appearing in publications like Life and the Saturday Evening Post, the ads featured such cigarette-smoking luminaries as Rock Hudson, John Wayne, Joe DiMaggio, Ronald Reagan, and Santa Claus. And of course there were plenty of models hired to pose as doctors and dentists for ads with slogans like, "38,381 Dentists Say, ‘Smoke Viceroys.' They can never stain your teeth." Because if it was only, say, 38,300 dentists, nobody would have bought it.
Now Dr. Jackler's vast digitally restored collection is on display through December at a free exhibit called Not a Cough in a Car Load: Images Used by Tobacco Companies to Hide the Hazards of Smoking. At turns hilarious and dismaying, the exhibit is open through December 26th at The New York Public Library's Science, Industry and Business Library's Healy Hall (188 Madison Avenue). And there are a lot more from Dr. Jackler's collection online here. All in all, it makes for a fitting compliment to our current Mad Men fascination.