Category:
Publicity Stunts

Captain Yancey and His Fabulous Autogyro



Source of clipping: Quad-City Times (Davenport, Iowa) 03 Jul 1931, Fri Page 1



Good article here.

The Pitcairn PCA-2 autogyro was developed in 1931 and proved to be a reliable, unique aircraft. The rotor at its top was unpowered and it flew more like a fixed wing aircraft than a helicopter, based on the power from its radial engine on the nose. Once at speed, the rotor spun based on aerodynamic forces alone thus generating lift. It was an amazing sight and attracted crowds wherever it flew. By April of 1931, the autogyro had flown across the United States at the hands of John M. Miller, had landed on the White House lawn (by test pilot Jim Ray), and had soared to a new altitude record of 18,415 feet (this being Amelia Earhart’s record).

Seizing upon the press interest in the design, the Champion Spark Plug company purchased one and painted the sides with their logo and named it “Miss Champion”. It was the perfect flying billboard. After hiring Captain Lewis “Lew” Yancey, a former Naval Lieutenant and USCG officer who was a maritime captain, they directed that he fly the nation on an advertising tour. By the end of 1931, Captain Yancey had flown the autogyro 6,500 miles, transiting 21 states and touching down in 38 cities around the nation. Yet the Champion Spark Plugs company still wanted more attention — and thus they asked him to beat Amelia Earhart’s altitude record as well.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Sep 05, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Inventions, Publicity Stunts, World Records, Advertising, Air Travel and Airlines, 1930s

So easy a four-year-old can do it

From Newsweek - Jan 2, 1950:

The Phillips-Jones Corp. was sure last week it had found the answer to the declining market for men's dress and business shirts in its Van Heusen Century. The Century's collar, the company says, cannot wrinkle, curl, or wilt. Dec. 21, as Phillips-Jones salesmen gathered in a New York hotel for a sales convention, the company proceeded to show how easy it was to iron the shirt by having a young miss of 4, Pamela Gaughan, take the stage and wield the iron.

Pamela doesn't look like she's having fun.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jul 30, 2021 - Comments (6)
Category: Publicity Stunts, Children, 1950s

The Mystery Girl from the World of Autodynamics

In late 1956, a celebrity in disguise as the "Mystery Girl from the World of Autodynamics" toured car shows and dealerships. The public was challenged to guess her identity to have a chance to win a new 1957 Dodge.

Can you guess who she was? The answer is below in extended.

Here's a hint. She's not an A-list celebrity, but we've posted about her before on WU.



North Hollywood Valley Times - Nov 24, 1956



More in extended >>

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jul 28, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Publicity Stunts, 1950s, Cars

Wild Party, 1905 Style

After the article, you can view one of Madame Gabrielle Réjane's silent films.

Her Wikipedia page, with some great photos.

Source of article: The Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois) 05 Feb 1905, Sun Page 3





Posted By: Paul - Tue Apr 13, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Dinners, Banquets, Parties, Tributes, Roasts and Other Celebrations, Movies, Publicity Stunts, Public Indecency, 1900s, Dance

Finding a needle in a haystack

ARTnews reports that the artist Sven Sachsalber recently died at the young age of 33. Sachsalber's most famous work, which Chuck posted about in 2014, was when he spent two days searching for, and eventually finding, a needle hidden in a haystack.



Some of Sachsalber's other works (or 'performances') included:

  • Completing, with his father, a 13,200-piece puzzle of Michelangelo's Creation of Adam
  • Eating a poisonous mushroom
  • Spending 24 hours in a room with a cow

For whatever it's worth, Sachsalber wasn't the first person to try and find a needle in a haystack. Legendary publicist Jim Moran did the exact same stunt back in 1939.

Popular Science - July 1939
Note: despite what the caption says, Moran did find the needle.
He then sent it to the Smithsonian.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Dec 22, 2020 - Comments (5)
Category: Publicity Stunts, Homages, Pastiches, Tributes and Borrowings, Performance Art, Obituaries

Roy Mack’s milk-diet tour

Roy Mack set off from New York on May 2, 1939, intending to walk to San Francisco. To make this more of a challenge, he decided to do this while living on a diet of only milk — about six quarts of it a day. He said he wanted to "prove you can live on milk." The media dubbed him the "human milk bottle."

By August he had reached Oklahoma City and had also lost 10 pounds in weight. He maintained this was due to all the exercise, not his milk diet.

I have no idea if he ever did reach San Francisco, because I can't find any news reports about him after Oklahoma City. Perhaps the milk diet got the better of him.

Pittsburgh Press - June 3, 1939

Posted By: Alex - Fri Oct 30, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Food, Publicity Stunts, Travel, 1930s, Dieting and Weight Loss

Tuffi the Elephant Who Leaped from a Monorail



The incident produced this "manipulated" postcard.



The Wikipedia page.

The anniversary celebration of 2018.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Jun 21, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Animals, Publicity Stunts, 1950s, Europe

Girl Frozen Alive

A popular publicity stunt for selling cars during the 1960s.

Philadelphia Inquirer - July 10, 1968



Louisville Courier-Journal - Nov 12, 1965



Marion Star - June 17, 1965



Lebanon Daily News - Oct 7, 1968



Cincinnati Enquirer - May 7, 1969

Posted By: Alex - Wed Sep 19, 2018 - Comments (5)
Category: Death, Publicity Stunts, 1960s

Plennie Wingo - Around the World Backwards

Plennie Wingo walked around the world backwards in 1931, hoping the stunt would make him money. He later described the journey in his book Around the World Backwards.

And in 1976, when he was 81, he reprised the stunt by walking backwards from San Francisco to Santa Monica.

More info: wikipedia, Sideshow World

Chicago Tribune - May 6, 1932



via Amazon


Posted By: Alex - Sun Apr 29, 2018 - Comments (0)
Category: Publicity Stunts, 1930s

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Who We Are
Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

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