Ann Miller’s “Heinz’s Great American Soup” Costume

Description (Brief)
Ann Miller, the vivacious tap-dancing star of such classic screen musicals as On the Town (1949) and Kiss Me Kate (1953) wore this sparkling costume in a famous 1971 TV commercial for Heinz’s short-lived product, Great American Soup. The one-minute commercial, produced and directed by noted humorist and broadcaster, Stan Freberg, was a tribute to the spectacular, Busby Berkeley-style Hollywood musicals of the 1930s and 1940s, with Miller rising up out of the floor on top of a eight feet high cylinder designed to look like a giant soup can. She was backed by spurting red, white, and blue fountains and a staircase filled with singing and dancing platinum blonde chorines. The song featured in the commercial is a Freberg parody of a Hollywood tribute and has, as one of its campy, nonsensical lyrics the following phrase: ”Who’s got its noodles up in lights/ From Broadway to the Loop?/It’s the great – I said the great – the Great American Soup!” At the conclusion of the lavish musical number, Miller whirls back into kitchen setting where the scene began and Dave Willock, the actor playing her husband, remarks, “Why do you always have to make such a production out of everything?”
The costume, created by the Berman Costume Company, is made of red satin and decorated with iridescent red sequins and a glittering white rhinestone filigree pattern trim around the hips and top of bust Another major component of the costume is a bright red silk top hat, decorated with a silver band and blue stars. Both elements of costume, combined with Miller’s sunny, tongue-in-cheek performance style and Freberg’s witty script, make this one of the funniest, most elaborate commercials ever produced.
Location
Currently not on view
date made
1970
performing artist
Miller, Ann
maker
Berman Costume Company
place made
West Germany
Physical Description
satin (overall material)
sequins (overall material)
rhinestones (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 6 in x 11 in x 13 1/4 in; 15.24 cm x 27.94 cm x 33.655 cm
ID Number
2002.0268.01.02
accession number
2002.0268
catalog number
2002.0268.01.02
Credit Line
Ann Miller
subject
Dancers
Entertainment, general
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Entertainment
Popular Entertainment
Advertising
Food
Highlights from the Culture and the Arts Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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