Photography, Vintage Television

Ozzie and Harriet for Kodak

The post about Ansco film and gear got such a good response that I dusted off this old post about Kodak, as advertised by Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, for you today. Enjoy!

If you’re of a certain age, you remember when a television show had one sponsor, or maybe two; all of an episode’s commercials were for those companies. The show’s open usually incorporated the sponsor, too. When these shows were later syndicated, new “generic” opens had to be prepared that referenced no sponsor, as local stations sold all the commercial time.

One such show I watched in syndication as a boy was The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, a 1950s and 1960s family sitcom starring the family of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. A few years ago, someone gave me a big DVD set of episodes as a gift. All of those episodes used the original opens, with the sponsor mentions intact. I learned that for a few years, Kodak was a frequent sponsor.

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Some of those episodes included commercials, and it was very cool to see advertisements for some of the Kodaks I have in my camera collection. Here’s Ozzie pitching the Kodak Brownie Starmatic. You can read about my Starmatic here.

The Nelsons appeared in many of the commercials. Kodak was pushing 35mm color slides hard via the Nelson family. The Signet 50 was a reasonably capable, if awkwardly styled, camera with a built-in light meter. I once owned the Signet 50’s little brother, the Signet 40, and it was a fine performer. Read my review here.

Ozzie and his family didn’t always appear in the Kodak commercials on their show. Here’s a commercial for two more cameras capable of handling slide film, the Retina Reflex and the Pony II. The Retina was at the top of Kodak’s line, and the Pony slotted between the lowly Brownie and the Signet series mentioned above. I’ve owned a Retina Reflex IV (review here) and several Ponies (reviews here, here, and here).

Ozzie and Harriet shilled lesser Kodaks, of course; all the way down to the least-expensive Brownies. They also held forth on the wonders of Kodak films and processing and printing services! But commercials for those things aren’t available on YouTube, so this is all you get.

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10 thoughts on “Ozzie and Harriet for Kodak

  1. Those kinds of sponsorships were a carryover from radio where the shows were frequently associated with a single sponsor.

    One of my favorite TV sponsorship examples was Mr. Ed, which began as a syndicated show sponsored by Studebaker Corporation. The pilot episode is on YouTube and the opening credits roll over footage of Studebaker Larks on the highway. After about 6 months the show was picked up by a network and gained additional sponsors, but for the first 3 seasons everybody on it drove Studebakers.

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  2. I thought it interesting that the guy in the ad for the Retina Reflex pronounced the camera name the same way as the name of the structure at the back of the eye. He said RET-in-nuh. I have always called the camera a reh-TEEN-uh. In any case, still one of my great favorite cameras.

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    • reh-TEEN-uh would be the German pronunciation and therefore most correct, but perhaps Kodak chose not to confuse US audiences by seeming to mispronounce a word. Kind of like we pronounce Berlin as “burr-LINN” when in German it’s “bear-LEEN”.

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  3. analogphotobug says:

    This is Fun! I miss the old commercials. Especially the ones with jingles (I can still sing most of them). Thanks for Sharing this……

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    • Commercial jingles were so much fun! I did a post years ago about several old commercials with jingles but the videos have gone missing on YouTube so I can’t reshare it.

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  4. My favorite…”Meet the Swinger, the Polaroid Swinger, meet the Swinger, the Polaroid Swinger. It’s more than a camera, it’s almost alive. It’s only nineteen dollars and ninety-five.”

    Written and performed by a very young Barry Manilow, starring Ali MacGraw.

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  5. Tom in Phoenix says:

    I have vague recollections of Ansel Adams flogging Ansco products on TV, would have been late 1950’s or early 1960’s. Apparently not available on YouTube.

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