The Cheerful Granny at Christmas, 1957

Life, December 2, 1957

Life, December 2, 1957

PennysGranny57Pictured with family members and used to promote  household products, the Cheerful Granny was a staple of the American advertising industry in the early to mid twentieth century. I was drawn to this advertisement for the chain store Penney’s because it appears to depict a three generation family, although I suppose that granny could have been visiting for the holidays. (Please excuse my less than perfect composite of a two page spread.) The granny has no special job except to display her gift, a super suede washable electric blanket. Only the father has a different role here, acting as Santa for his very large family. Of course he also sports a Penny’s product—a Towncraft pima cotton shirt available for $2.98.

Do we need anymore evidence of the pastel fifties than this ad? While beatniks might have been wearing black, the females in this family are content with light blue, shades of apricot, and sage green. The grandmother’s pale blue bathrobe seems designed to bring out her blue gray hair. She is very well turned out for a Christmas morning. Not only is her hair done, but she has even managed to put on jewelry.

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7 Responses to The Cheerful Granny at Christmas, 1957

  1. Cheerful Granny always has on her ear bobs.

  2. What an interesting photo to examine, as you did. Granny is cheerful, but apparently a widow — no grandpa. The four children include two blondes and two brunettes — unless that brunette in the slip is an aunt…. (or a friend of Daddy?)
    Aware that we’d be taking photos, once there were grandchildren in the picture, my family also did our hair and wore lipstick with our robes while opening presents.

    • Lynn says:

      I also had a hard time figuring out just who that woman on the right was. Finally I decided that it must be the mother, since she is wearing a pretty revealing outfit. I don’t think Pennys wanted us to imagine any hanky panky going on. And by the way, the cheerful granny is almost always without a mate, all the better to devote herself to her grandchildren.

  3. donna says:

    Lynn, I just love your take on things! All the cheerful grannies I see in my vintage magazines remind me of Mrs. Wilson from the TV show Denise the Menace from the early ’60’s and this one doesn’t disappoint.

  4. bellneice says:

    Then I’m still confused. If mother is in the slip, who is in the pink bathrobe next to Nana? Spinster Auntie Mary?

    • Lynn says:

      Well, here’s what I think. One is the mother and one the daughter. I’ve decided that the one in the slip is the mother. I agree, though, that it’s confusing!

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