An actress who became famous as a fixture of early TV commercials, often pitching household conveniences such as “cooking with gas” appliances, has died. The New York Times reports that Julia Meade died Monday at 90.
Her daughter Caroline Rudd said Meade died at her home in Manhattan while watching TV.
The image of Meade in a kitchen, dressed up for a night out on the town while doing a variety of household chores, is one of the iconic images of the early television version of American life. Along with her spots for gas appliances, she was seen pitching Life magazine, Kodak cameras, Hudnut hair products and, starting in 1953, Lincoln automobiles.
“Lincoln made her a celebrity, if not a star, the object of intense viewer interest,” Karal Ann Marling wrote in her book “As Seen on TV: The Visual Culture of Everyday Life in the 1950s,” published in 1994.
The Times report adds: “Ms. Meade became a television fixture as Ed Sullivan’s ‘favorite salesgirl,’ as TV Guide described her, on his CBS show … for nearly a decade.”
The report also notes: “Ms. Meade was not the first First Lady of Television — Faye Emerson, Arlene Francis and Lucille Ball were among the others who staked claims to that title. But she was certainly present not long after it dawned, beginning on a DuMont network station in New York in 1948. By the late 1950s, after her commercial debut on NBC’s ‘Embassy Club,’ she had dethroned Betty Furness as TV’s leading pitchwoman.”
Here’s a collection of vintage Julia Meade clips promoting “cooking with gas” appliances …