Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Coppertone Girl looks for a new home

Anyone who grew up in Miami in the 50s and 60s remembers driving by the Coppertone Girl when going through downtown Miami on Biscayne Boulevard. She and her naughty dog graced the Parkleigh Building on N.E. 6th Street and Biscayne strategically placed so that every tourist driving into Miami or going to the old Seaport to catch a cruise ship was greeted by her cute surprised expression as the dog pulled down her pants just enough to show what a beautiful tan you could get on any Miami beach. Unfortunately when the Parkleigh was demolished in 1991 the poor girl was left homeless. But not for long! Schering-Plough, owners of the Coppertone trademark, donated the sign to the citizens of Miami and placed it in the care of the Dade Heritage Trust. The Trust has taken loving care of its adopted daughter ever since. After refurbishment of the sign, the Trust relocated the sign to the east side of the Concord Building at 66 W. Flagler St., where the golden girl sans pooch hangs today. Sadly, now this second locale is no longer able to host the popular image.

The solution to this dilemma is to entrust the sign to the MiMo Biscayne Association. The group was verbally promised the sign last November and has been just as diligent as the Trust in pursuing any option that will save it for a second time. Schering-Plough has offered $2000 for the removal and inspection of the landmark. According to a spokesperson, Schering-Plough expects the sign to come down sometime in April at the latest, and then all parties involved will determine the next steps for the Coppertone tyke. It is expected that Miami's most famous sunbather will be relocated to the MIMO district to carouse among her contemporary motel row surroundings. Stay tuned for her rebirth.

By way of historical background, the Coppertone Girl was the creation of graphic artist Joyce Ballantyne Brand, using her daughter Cheri Irwin as the model. Cheri is presently employed as an aerobics instructor in Ocala, Florida. Later, Jodie Foster made her acting debut as the Coppertone girl in a television commercial, when she was 3 years old. The sign was built buy the well known Miami sign company, Webster Outdoor Advertising, that created many of the famous old signs around Miami of that era.