Leisy Light Beer TV Commercial, 1952

Monday, April 26, 2021

Among the Cinecraft Productions collection at Hagley are TV commercials dating back to as early as 1948. Cinecraft produced commercials for a variety of businesses and products, including beer, toys, telephone, vacation homes, gasoline, fine china, knives, workwear, supermarkets, motor oil, windows, and cars

Leisy's Beer was one of its first clients for TV work. Leisy was among a few local and regional breweries that produced commercials with Cinecraft. The oldest Cleveland brewery at the time, Leisy's started in the 1850s in Iowa. The company relocated to Cleveland in 1873 and, for a period in the 20th century, claimed the title as the city’s largest brewery. The company closed due to Prohibition but reopened after its repeal in 1933. Leisy's ceased operations in 1959.

The Cinecraft archive at Hagley has approximately twenty unique scripts for Leisy's TV ads covering a period from 1948-1952. So far, we have found three commercials on film (one of which is featured below) and hope to find more as we continue processing the collection. 

In 1952, Cinecraft produced the introduction to the Leisy's Premier Theater that featured Basil Rathbone as their spokesperson. Rathbone is best known for his role as Sherlock Holmes in a series of films released between 1939 and 1946. We have yet to find this footage in our Cinecraft Collection but a site dedicated to the actor includes footage and still images from his work with Leisy's: http://www.basilrathbone.net/ads/page2.htm  

The Leisy's commercial below, produced in 1952, was part of an ad campaign for Leisy's Light with the tag line “Leisy’s is first in favor because it’s first in flavor.” The sixty-second commercial features footage from their brewing facilities in Cleveland:

In addition to the actual film of the commercial, we also have its annotated script labeled as a “Culley Original.” We assume this would have been the script Cinecraft owner/director, Ray Culley, would have used during production. You can view the script in the Hagley Digital Archives here: https://digital.hagley.org/AVD_2019227_10_19

Kevin J. Martin is the Curator of Archives and the Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Audiovisual and Digital Collections at Hagley Museum and Library