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Celebrating Illustration, Design, Cartoon and Comic Art of the Mid-20th Century

The Countdown to Christmas Continues... with "Bad Santa"

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Today's Santa is a squeaky-clean grandpa figure thanks to decades of Rankin-Bass Christmas specials and the combined efforts of the mass media, toy manufacturers and retailers, and the packaged food and beverage industry ("Hellooo Coca-Cola!")

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But the mid-century Santa... well... that Santa was "different."

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You're probably familiar with the 1952 Christmas hit song, "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus", but you may have missed the less-frequently heard lyrics, "I saw mommy showing Santa her seamed stockings"...

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... and "I saw Santa checking out mommy's cleavage"...

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... which would have been right at home in a Spike Jones parody song "recorded for Jones' own amusement."

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Ah, the good ol' days!

* More mid-century Christmas ads and illustrations in my Mid-Cent X-Mas Flickr set.



10 comments

  1. This is awesome, Leif. Hysterical. I'm sure Mrs. Claus would not approve of at least half of this.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think it's funny that the majority of these are cigarette adds featuring Santa, something we didn't consider "bad" at the time.

    I have a feeling that "nice" Santa at the top peddling Coke is going to be looked at in the exact same way soon enough.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Of course DWishR. That's why we of a younger generation find them so amusing. I think we all appreciate that we're living in increasingly PC times. Seeing these ads from the days when smoking was encouraged by a children's icon are (dare I say it?) a breath of fresh air! ;^)

    ReplyDelete
  4. It took me a while, but I just crunched the numbers, Leif, and it turns out that the ads from this period were exactly 1,985,457 times cooler and more fun that today's ads.

    I think we all suspected this but now it's scientifically proven.

    Merry Christmas to everyone!

    Huw Evans
    EYECATCHER Graphics & Design

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yes; "increasingly PC times".
    Poor smokers.

    Dare I go further?
    Well, the ads from this period were even 1,985,480 times cooler and more fun than today's ads.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I always love these posts, Leif. Today, Santa is so child-centric that you'd never find him smokin' and hangin' out with the lovely ladies unless it was an outright parody.

    These ads, indeed, are children of their times - just as the children ground into bird feed in the 19th century kids' book "Max Und Moritz" was "classic children's literature" back in the day, however horrific it seems to us now.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is awesome...I didn't know Santa was a playa and a smoker.....LOL

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  9. In these ads -- Santa looks more Falstaff than Saint Nick. Look at the lanquid gleam in his eye when ogling the half-dressed beauties. And, actually, they probably have more truth than any excitement over a Coke on the mantle. I bet Santa's been delayed a few times in his nighttime prowls down the chiminey by the lady of the house in her holiday nightie. And why not? The kids are dreaming of sugar plums and Dad is exhausted by the toy he spent hours assembling. Why shouldn't the lady have a litte fun at 3 am with a harmless and energetic stranger?

    Not too PC, eh?

    Merry (Secular) Christmas!

    Wes

    ReplyDelete

 

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