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HAIR HISTORY - The Breck Girl

Edward Breck was the son of the founder of Breck Shampoo of Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1936, he hired commercial artist Charles Sheldon to draw women for their advertisements. Sheldon's early portraits for Breck were done in pastels, with a soft focus and haloes of light and color surrounding them. He created romantic images of feminine beauty and purity. He preferred to draw "real women" as opposed to professional models.

In the late 1950s, Ralph William Williams succeeded Sheldon as the Breck artist. Unlike Sheldon, he often used professional women. Some of the famous "Breck Girls" are Kim Basinger, Brooke Shields, Erin Gray, Cheryl Tiegs, Jaclyn Smith and Cybill Sheperd.

Breck ads ran regularly in magazines such as Ladies Home Journal, Woman's Home Companion, Seventeen, Vogue, Glamour and Harpers Bazaar. They were most often on the back cover of the magazine.

After Williams' death in 1976, the advertising tradition stopped. The Breck Girls ads are now in the advertising history records in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.
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