Gladys Glover, Who?

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In the 1954 film, “It Should Happen to You,” starring Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon, the main character, Gladys Glover, is the unwitting prototype for Paris Hilton and Kim Kardasian, basic no-bodies who brand their way into notoriety. Holliday, who plays Gladys, makes a brand name for herself by renting billboards in NYC (stickers were not yet in vogue).

“Wandering despondently, Gladys’ attention is caught by a large billboard overlooking Columbus Circle, with the notice ‘This space for rent. Choice location. Inquire Horace Pfeiffer Co, 383 Madison Avenue.’ She fantasizes her name on the billboard. Gathering her nerve, she goes to 383 Madison Avenue to inquire. . . The spunky Gladys pulls $1000 in cash from her purse. . .the sign is $210 per month, three months minimum. Gladys pays $630 in cash and arranges to have her name put on the billboard.

Within a few days the sign is up and she is thrilled. It turns out, however, that the Adams Soap company has traditionally booked that sign, intended to book that sign, and is upset to learn that another client has obtained it. The Pfeiffer company calls her to a meeting where Evan Adams III (Peter Lawford) attempts to induce her to give up the sign by offering her more money. Gladys is simply not interested. She is called to another meeting at which they offer to give her six signs in exchange for that one. This time, she accepts. Now there are six huge signs in New York, one in lights, each saying simply ‘Gladys Glover.'”

Within no time, she catapults to fame and fortune simply for being no-one and every-one. And the “me” generation begins. To see clips go here.

(Note: Monday’s Daily Heller did not go out via email. Go here for our homage to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.)

About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →