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September 24, 2022

Vintage Palmolive Ads Featuring Madge the Manicurist From the 1970s

Jan Miner played the iconic role as Madge the Manicurist in a 27-year series of television commercials for Palmolive from the early 1960s until the late 1990s.


Miner appeared on television in, among other shows, Boston Blackie and Casey, Crime Photographer, in roles she originated on radio. But she became an icon to TV viewers as Madge, the wisecracking manicurist in commercials for Palmolive dish-washing detergent. In an advertising campaign created by the agency Ted Bates Advertising, Miner played Madge, who worked at the Salon East Beauty Parlor and soaked her customers’ fingernails in Palmolive (“Palmolive softens hands while you do the dishes”). The campaign ran from 1966 to 1992.

Miner’s Palmolive commercials would appear in France (where Madge was “Fran├žoise”), Germany, Switzerland, and Austria (in all three as “Tilly”), Finland (as “Marissa”), Denmark, and Italy. In Australia and New Zealand, the Madge character was played by Robina Beard.

Madge’s trademark line became one of the more famous and parodied television commercial quotes:
“You’re soaking in it.”
– Miner as Madge
“It was great fun and so exciting,” she recalled, “taking a taxi from one studio to another and trying to remember what part you were about to play. And the best thing about radio drama was that it left everything to the audience’s imagination. TV offers a different type of challenge, but perhaps because I grew up with it, radio remains my first love.”

An executive of the ad agency making the test commercials for Madge the manicurist suggested to Jan that she go to the audition. Arriving at the casting call Miner remembered her sudden thought that she was in the wrong place.

“All the other girls were young and pretty, and I figured they must be looking for that type. But I was used to auditions, and I sat there figuring out a way to outdo the other aspirants. Then it dawned on me that the fact that I was the only older manicurist auditioning could be turned to my favor. By the time I auditioned, I had developed in my mind the basic character of Madge as I play her today.”















1 comment:

  1. Robina Beard's autobiography was called "My Life - You're Soaking In It" LOL

    ReplyDelete



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