The Soft Sell: Silent Film and the Auto Industry

Two years after the Hudson Motor Car Company premiered its Hudson Super-Six automobile, a Hudson dealership took the opportunity to promote the car and draw in business.

The Hudson Super-Six

Haines-Thompson created a calendar in 1918 that features many of the most popular silent film actresses of the day and a tie-in to the Hudson Super-Six. The calendar was printed to be used as a tool salesmen at the dealership could use to help promote and sell the Super-Six.

Interestingly, the calendar featured actresses from several different studios, including Metro, Universal, Triangle and Biograph. Each month featured a mini calendar, a glamour shot of the actress of the month, a paragraph of interesting facts about her and a shorter paragraph often clumsily tying in the Super-Six and Haines-Thompson.

Mary Miles Minter, calendar girl for May, has a description calling her “one of the ‘starriest’ stars in the film firmament” followed by a paragraph proclaiming the Super-Six as “the ‘Starriest star’ in the automobile world firmament.”

Dorothy Gish graces the page for June, where she’s described as “a complete star all on her own account, as the Triangle forces are cheerfully willing to admit.” The following blurb about Haines-Thompson then clumsily connects the two thoughts by saying, “Everyone is cheerfully willing to admit that we have the most complete line of automobile accessories ever shown in a city of this size.”

For some months, though, no attempt is made to make any real transition between the actress bio and the dealership promo. Norma Talmadge, whom we mentioned in an earlier post, is actress of the month for October. Her bio describes her as a wondrous product of her birthplace, Niagara Falls, but the following blurb unsubtley says “When you are about to buy a car you say to yourself, ‘To whom shall I entrust this important commission?’ and the answer is always Haines & Thompson.”

You can check out the entire calendar and the rest of the calendar girls. You can also check our previous installments of our silent film series.

Want to dive deeper into the world of silent film? Keep up with my posts over on Curtains or on Chicago Nitrate.