Gets Actress' Dander Up
"I'm Tallulah The Tube Of Prell
And I'll make your hair look swell
It'll shine, it'll glow- so dandruff-free
For radiant hair, get ahold of me!"
--- Tallulah The Tube
Lincoln, Me. (DG) ---
1949, Procter & Gamble launched a new advertising promotion
for its Prell Shampoo. Little did anyone know how this supposedly
harmless campaign would stir up some nasty controversy.
With the magic of radio, the listeners heard a new character known as
"Tallulah The Tube" on the Prell radio commercials for
NBC's LIFE OF RILEY and ROSEMARY
on CBS. While other tubes lay prone on a flat surface waiting for someone
to squeeze its innards out, Tallulah displayed "her" talents as a radio
singer (through the musical services of singer Fran Barber).
The listeners heard Tallulah sing this classic ditty:
"I'm Tallulah The Tube of Prell
And I've got something to tell
Your hair can be radiant and dandruff-free
All you've got to do is take me home
and squeeze me!"
For the majority of radio listeners, the introduction of Tallulah The Tube
was nothing more than a new promotion to sell Prell Shampoo---
certainly nothing to get excited about. Unfortunately, there was one
person who took a definite dislike to it--- actress Tallulah Bankhead. Her
dislike led to some problems for everyone responsible for the creation of
the Prell promotion.
Ms. Bankhead believed the Prell character was created and
designed in her image. She was distressed, humiliated, and exposed to public
ridicule and contempt for this outrage. Ms. Bankhead sued Procter &
Gamble; Prell's advertising agency; the CBS Radio
Network; and the NBC Radio Network for $1 million dollars.
In its March 28, 1949 issue, Life Magazine featured the article
Tallulah The Actress Vs. Tallulah The Tube, which detailed the controversy. In the article, Ms. Bankhead maintained her first name was unique and
resented being identified with a singing tube of shampoo. She also bristled
at the thought of someone taking her home and squeezing her.
for Ms.Bankhead's name being unique, the article disputed her claim. The magazine had
pictures of other women, fire engines, dogs, temperamental cats, a Cherokee
Native American, a river, and a gorge all named "Tallulah." As for
the Prell character being designed in her image, the enclosed
magazine ad also disputed that claim. Tallulah The Tube was nothing more than
a face on a yellow Prell tube with arms, legs, and feet. As
you can see in the enclosed ad, there
was nothing visually that resembled Ms. Bankhead's appearance.
As for the people who created the advertising promotion, when Tallulah
The Tube was created, they weren't even close of thinking about Ms. Bankhead---
in fact, "Tallulah" wasn't the first name they came up with. In order
to fit with the jingle, the name "Ruby" was used. While the sound went
along with the jingle, the name didn't fit because Ruby was a red colored
jewel--- and Prell's shampoo color was emerald green. The name
"Tessie" was also considered, but that too was cast aside. Finally,
the Prell character was named "Tallulah" based from the
song I'll Take Tallulah from the 1941 MGM movie Ship Ahoy.
creation of Tallulah The Tube passed muster with everyone involved with
What did the people think of this situation? Letters to Life Magazine
concerning the article was a clear indication. The general opinion was nothing
more than a publicity stunt to boost Ms. Bankhead into the spotlight. When
they heard the radio commercials, the people didn't associate Tallulah The
Tube with Ms. Bankhead--- until Ms. Bankhead hammered the whole idea into
their heads. One writer to the magazine said Ms. Bankhead's tirades sold more
shampoo than Tallulah The Tube ever could--- and that Procter & Gamble
should pay her the $1 million for free advertising.
Even Ms. Bankhead took time to write a letter to the magazine. She acknowledged
her name was associated with other people, animals, and things--- but she
was the only "Tallulah" millions of men, women, and children in this
continent, Europe, and Asia has heard about.
Ms. Bankhead's lawsuit was instituted on February 24, 1949. The case
was eventually settled out of court, with Ms. Bankhead receiving $5000 in
damages. As for the fate of Tallulah The Tube, she continued to sell
Prell until 1950, where she was retired and the next Prell
ad promotion took over.