Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Yanks are coming

1960’s, London was crawling with American ad guys. The American agencies all decided at the same time that London was an important market. Thank heavens, because we were part of the American invasion.

It seemed wherever you looked there were working class Brits and Americans having a great time, usually on the King’s Road.

Time magazine told us we were in “Swinging London”, and it was.

Color, clothes (mini skirts), Jean Shrimpton’s face everywhere, Mary Quant and the trouser suit, not yet fashionable back home, BiBa’s, innovative, chic, hanging out in Portobello Road, great cars, Italian tratorias, Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding at Rule’s, the King’s Road; Carnaby St. was already old hat, the King’s Road was where it was all happening like Easter Parade on a Saturday morning, breakfast at Claridge’s, Annabel’s where we partied, hair, lots of hair, mostly on men, Hyde Park softball games, American movies being made in England, pubs, booze. It was the English version of Madmen.

The softball games in Hyde Park on Sunday mornings were mostly played by the full crew of the Dirty Dozen and any other movie the Americans were shooting. I remember one afternoon in particular with John Cassavetes at bat when suddenly behind us came a young Cassius Clay looking surprisingly long and lean flanked by a bodyguard and James Brown, the three standing together blocking out the sun, pretty impressive. He caused a bigger stir than the actors.
After the game there was lunch at Mr. Chows in Knightsbridge, where Fellini in signature cape and hat sat with his wife Guiletta Masina and friends, Sir Ralph Richardson spotted nearby as well as James Gardner and his ball playing buddies at another table. We all tried to figure out what that mysterious crispy fried green stuff was. Parsley? It was the hottest place to see and be seen. Italian waiters serving amazing Chinese cuisine; it was different and it caught on fast.

We were having a great time making ads and being in the media spotlight. All of us were making more money than we should. Living this celebrated Swinging London lifestyle.

Our son quickly developed an English accent, “can the chaps come over for tea Mommy”. He was four, now he seems to have developed a John Garfield Brooklyn accent. Do not ask me how? Especially since he spent twenty years of his life in Mexico.

Let’s talk about cars. I had a 304 black Peugeot in the States, and the company moved it over to London for us, it was left hand drive, perfect for England, right?

Sold that for more than I paid for it new, no idea how, I attribute it to sharp marketing, or dumb buyer.

MGB came next, really small for a family, so I got an R type Bentley, silver gray body and iridescent mauve hood, beautiful, like a piece of Art Nouveau, my wife had a Mini Cooper automatic, had to wait 2 months for that.

Cracked the engine block on the Bentley, no anti freeze, and a freezing few days, could not believe it.

Another Bentley followed, then an Alvis convertible, Prince Philip had one, and I am from Brooklyn and make ads. Unbelievable. Only in the 60’s in London.

Friends visited from the States and tried to get Jobs there.

Force 12 that was what they called my partner John Crankshaw and I. We made a powerful team, he was the writer, brilliant, eccentric and I was the art director, our collaborations were fun and successful and we occasionally made some really good ads. For those of you old enough to remember the Quality Street Gang, well that campaign was a big success; even a cab driver told me he liked it. For me that was a big compliment.

Six and a half years of great memories, home leave once a year to NY, holidays in Spain and Greece, film festival in Cannes, weekends in Paris. Our daughter was born in London; we bought a house and restored it.
The company waited till the house was finished and we just moved in and they decide I was needed in Spain.

Nice job NY, good timing.


  1. That photo! Photo's are powerful things. Magic really. It represents not just a glimpse into a bygone era but a vision of how we were, how we felt...the hippies happened in America but in England it was quite something else. This image epitomized that precious, fleeting moment of the 60's in London; we thought it would last forever and change everything, rupture the class system too, well almost. Actually we left just in time cause with the 70's the bubble burst.

  2. Remember Lew? L-R...It's John,Vicki, you and your baby blue Rolls Royce with VLO still on the licence plates, Dee, Bill, Baby and me. Don't you just love it!!

  3. Dad - was listening to the Beatles when I checked this blog entry - totally matched the pic!


  4. I remember you had a b/w photo in your office with that silver Bentley. I think it was taken by Victor Skrebneski. Great photo. So cool. You should post it.

  5. Oh,and the date was 1965....Good ole day's!

  6. What ever happened to John Cranshaw? I worked with him at McCann Prague in the early 90s...

  7. Wow, thanks for this! I'm John's son as it happens and it is absolutely wonderful to see a picture of him in his heyday! Just came across this randomly google searching him because I know he worked with Ridley Scott and wondered what ad it was on. Anne I'm sad to say he died in 2003, working as an ad man to the very end.

  8. I worked with John Crankshaw at McCann Prague in the 1990s. He was amazing, wonderful, and, at times, utterly mad. We loved him dearly. Seeing this pic really hit hard.