A golden history

June 21, 1993|By Schering-Plough HealthCare Products

* 1944 -- Coppertone Suntan Cream makes its debut. Miami Beach pharmacist Benjamin Green cooks cocoa butter in a granite coffee pot to create the concoction. He tests each batch the same way, slathering it on his bald head.

* 1945 -- Coppertone Suntan Oil comes next, along with the slogan "Don't be a Paleface."

* 1953-54 -- "Little Miss Coppertone," the toddler with the pigtails and playful spaniel, bares her bottom on billboards in the Miami area. (The child and dog are never named.)

* 1958 -- How do you spell relief? For bad sunburns, Solarcaine, which joins the Coppertone ranks, promises to soothe.

* 1960 -- Those too busy to bake in the sun get an alternative: QT Quick Tanning Lotion, a sunless tanning cream. The catch: Some skin types turn pumpkin orange instead of golden brown.

* 1962 -- Little Miss Coppertone turns controversial. A Miami politician calls the billboard "distasteful" and advocates tearing it down. Miami residents rally to the landmark's defense and claim victory.

* 1965 -- Three-year-old Jodie Foster makes a TV commercial for the company. A member of the "Tan-ables" family, she is seen vacationing on a houseboat. Although she has no speaking part, she is heard giggling during the fade-out.

* 1977 -- Sun Protection Factors (SPF) are introduced on labels.

* 1987 -- After an eight-year absence from the advertising scene, Little Miss Coppertone re-emerges on a new sunscreen for children, Water Babies.

* 1991 -- Schering-Plough (which now owns Coppertone) considers tearing down the Miami billboard. Once again, local citizens organize a save-the-sign effort and win.

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