Sunday, September 19, 2010

MEET THE REAL DAISY GIRL: MONIQUE CORZILIUS

Monique-Signed-Daisy-Still

“I remember the commercial in which she appeared very well, of course. There are very few who saw it who will ever forget it.”[1]

--Wayne Phillips, Director, News and Information for the Democratic National Committee to the father of Monique Corzilius in a letter dated August 19, 1965

When CONELRAD posted its comprehensive history of the famous “Daisy” political ad back in 2007, we were convinced that we had tracked down and interviewed the person who had played the iconic role of the doomed little girl plucking petals off of a daisy in a field. It turns out that we were wrong. You can read about how we discovered our mistake and what we did about it here. The following article, though, is devoted to introducing Monique Corzilius, the real Daisy Girl.

Comparison Kids TEST Monique in the 1964 Daisy spot (left) and Monique in a 1965 Kool Pops ad (right)

In September of 2009 CONELRAD’s Bill Geerhart traveled to meet with Monique Corzilius and her father, Fred, to discuss the history of the family’s involvement with the Daisy ad and examine their archives. Fred’s ex-wife and Monique’s mother, Colette Brunner, lives in France and was interviewed via e-mail. The first thing Geerhart noticed about the 48-year-old Monique is that she is a redhead.

Child Adult Comparison Monique in the 1964 Daisy spot and in 2009

This seemed odd because even though the Daisy ad was shot in black and white most people think of its star as a blonde. However, if one views the Daisy ad again and understands that it was filmed in a field during a sunny day, it becomes much easier to see how the performer could have had red hair. The second and third things that Geerhart noticed about Monique were her freckles and dark eyes—features that are closely identifiable with the Daisy Girl.[2]

Monique Corzilus was not yet four-years-old and being raised in Pine Beach, New Jersey when her parents noticed an article in the local newspaper on child modeling. This inspired them to look into the career possibilities for their photogenic daughter. Fred explained to CONELRAD in his classic Jersey accent: “My wife and I decided we’d try it, you know? Like everybody else, they think their kid is the greatest in the world.”[3]

After a couple of rejections at other agencies, Monique was accepted at the Mary Ellen White Company at 415 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. Her agent was a blonde woman named Rosemary Brian who had a nervous vocal tic that made a lasting impression on Monique.[4] Ms. Brian’s first order of business was to change Monique’s ethnically challenging surname to something easier for potential clients to remember. Her first choice was “Council” because the Catholic Ecumenical Council (or Vatican II) was very much in the news at the time. But Fred came up with a far better suggestion: “I’m not really religious so I said why don’t we just make her ‘Cozy’—it was like C-o-z-y – there was a ‘z’ in our name and it just sounded kind of cute, you know, ‘Cozy.’” The matter was settled and two of Monique’s older sisters, June and Patty, modeled under the same moniker, too.[5]

Monique Cozy-Model Sheet-Early

The future Daisy Girl’s career began in July of 1964 with a simple Lipton Soup print ad, but less than a month later she found herself auditioning for her first television commercial—the one that would tie a mushroom cloud around GOP nominee Barry Goldwater’s neck without even mentioning his name.[6]

Good Housekeeping-12-1965-pg-161

Monique’s mother usually escorted her to auditions, but on this particular day her father, who worked nights loading trucks, took her to the offices of Screen Gems / Elliot Unger & Elliot to meet with Aaron Ehrlich Ehrlich-1966 of Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB), the advertising agency that was handling the account for the presidential campaign of Lyndon Baines Johnson (Ehrlich had moved over to Doyle Dane Bernbach as an “agency producer” from Elliot Unger & Elliot in 1963 and obviously continued the business relationship because the Daisy ad was produced by his former company).[7] Fred recalled for CONELRAD that his daughter was invited in to meet with Ehrlich before he was summoned to join them:

So, anyhow, I waited for ten or twelve or fifteen minutes and the receptionist said to me ‘they want you to go in.’ I said, ‘oh, OK.’ So I went in and the guy introduced himself as Aaron Ehrlich and he started talking and it wasn’t anything about making the commercial itself as far as what the subject was, but anyhow, he said to me ‘can you guarantee me she’ll count to ten?’ She was only about three years old and I thought quick and I said, ‘You know, Mr. Ehrlich, you can’t guarantee anything a kid’ll do.’ And he said, ‘You’re right, we’re taking her.’

Ehrlich may have been confused about the gimmick of the ad during his interview with Fred because in subsequent days Monique’s mother was rehearsing with her soon-to-be-famous daughter on how to count out of order. Fred continued his recollection:

So we got a call from the agency five or ten days later and they said have her in here at, I think it was 6:30 in the morning and it was like [I’m thinking] ‘gotta leave the house at 4.’ And my wife went [to the location shoot] because she didn’t have a job and I was working.[8]

Monique’s mother wrote the following to CONELRAD regarding the actual shooting of the Daisy ad:

That was Monique’s first commercial and when she got chosen to do it they told me she will not make money but just get paid for that day (100 dollars), but [they] also told me that she will get worldwide publicity and for a very long time. I had to teach her how to count but not in order [but rather] 1, 4, 7, 9. I know [the location] was in a park and [we] went there in a limousine, black—that made a big impression on us. Also, the little blouse she had on with teddy bears on it in front where you buttoned.[9]

And, understandably, Monique recalls fairly little about the experience, but what she offered in her interview with CONELRAD is quite evocative:

Well, we always took the bus to New York. I remember these long bus rides with my mom. The limo probably picked us up at the agency [in Manhattan]. And I remember the daisy field. I remember it being very beautiful and now when I see a daisy field it kind of brings back that memory. The actual shoot itself I don’t remember a lot. I remember just how it always was in the shoots which was just [the direction] ‘Monique, do it’ and I did it. I remember doing it multiple times, probably. And then I remember afterwards when it was all wrapped up, I’m pretty sure they had a huge picnic there. I think I remember this huge picnic and taking the limo back to the agency and then I remember, I don’t know how long later, hearing all the controversy around what it was about. I remember it being a surprise to my parents that it was actually a political commercial. Because they didn’t even know that it was a political commercial. It was hush, hush. So that’s about all I remember of it.[10]

The fact that the agency and the production company would not discuss the nature of the ad with the Corzilius family is confirmed by Fred:

We didn’t know anything until we saw it. When it came out it was like, ‘Oh, my God, that’s Monique!’ We didn’t know what she was doing and because it was her first commercial we weren’t smart enough to ask questions. But later on [for subsequent commercials] we’d say ‘what’s this for’ and they’d say, well, it’s for a Kool Pops ad or SpaghettiOs or something like that. And so we got smarter, but at that time we never asked anything.

Given the secrecy surrounding the purpose of the ad, it is not surprising that the family did not see its world premiere during NBC’s Monday Night Movie on September 7, 1964 (not to mention the fact that the ad ran past Monique’s bedtime).[11] Fred recalls seeing it for the first time on a news broadcast:

Before I could even think it was like ‘Monique was just on television!’ I told my wife. And, of course, the thing is so short, before you realize [it] you can’t call your wife who is on the second floor, ‘Come on down and see this commercial’ because it’s over.[12]

Daisy TV Guide Zoom

Colette remembers first hearing about what the ad was actually for when a neighbor asked if Monique was in a commercial for President Johnson. Like her husband, she subsequently saw her little girl’s first filmed acting job on the news. “[It was] such a big controversy,” Colette recalled via e-mail, “everybody was talking about it.”[13]

Incredibly, it was thirty-six years later that the Daisy Girl herself first saw her historic commercial debut. As Monique recalled for CONELRAD she caught up with her iconic performance on the World Wide Web:

The first time I saw it was when I went back to college and I took—I got a degree in technology in 2000—and I brought it up, we had some down time at school and we said we’d just go on the Internet and search the Internet and so I said ‘Well, I’ll put the Daisy ad in’ and I brought it up and I saw it for the first time and I was just shaking, I had tears in my eyes. It was like ‘Oh my gosh, that’s me!’ That’s the first time I saw it – 2000.

When asked about how she came to fully understand why the ad was so controversial Monique explained:

I think as I got older, just from my parents and just from people around us going [mimicking the reaction] ‘oh, my gosh.’ And I remember my… I guess it was my mother and my father saying, you know, people were not happy about it or maybe they were just talking together and I overheard it – the people thought I actually blew up or was exposed to the atomic bomb and I just remember being really concerned about saying it was me. I shouldn’t say it. I was just kind of like ‘I better not say that’s me – people will look [down] at me for doing that.’[14]

Colette told CONELRAD that she has no regrets about her daughter being in the ad and that knowing more about the content of the commercial at the time would not have changed her mind “because her modeling career had just begun.” Colette, who was and is a French citizen, could not vote in the 1964 presidential election, but she revealed to us the ironic fact that she favored Barry Goldwater over LBJ. Monique’s father, on the other hand, considered the Arizona senator to be a “warmonger.” The Daisy Girl herself describes her current political affiliation as left of center.[15]

Time-9-25-64
The Daisy ad, of course, received a tremendous amount of attention following its initial broadcast on NBC and even landed its star on the collage cover of Time magazine’s September 25, 1964 “Nuclear Issue.” This prompted Monique’s paternal grandmother to write to the newsweekly to try and obtain still prints from the commercial. A representative from Time wrote back enclosing copies of the photograph, but suggested that the Democratic National Committee or Doyle Dane Bernbach would be sources for better quality prints.[16]

Either inspired by this recommendation or on his own initiative (he cannot remember exactly) Fred wrote to DNC headquarters in Washington, D.C. and suggested that his daughter be granted an audience with President Johnson.[17] The response from Wayne Phillips (1925-1988), Director of News and Information for the DNC, is so priceless that it is being included here in its entirety:

DNC-Daisy-Lo-Res

Democratic National Committee
1730 K Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006

Telephone
Federal 3-8750

August 19, 1965

Mr. F.C. Corzilius, Jr.
31 Tudor Avenue
Pine Beach, New Jersey 08741

Dear Mr. Corzilius:

Your recent letter to the Democratic National Committee regarding your daughter just came to my attention.

I remember the commercial in which she appeared very well, of course. There are very few who saw it who will ever forget it. It was certainly one of the most dramatic parts of the entire Presidential campaign.

You can understand, I know, how busy the President is particularly with the present world situation. I will try to see if something can be arranged for you. But please do not get your daughter’s hopes up about it. It may be impossible, and I know the President would hate to disappoint her.

Sincerely,

Wayne Phillips, Director
News and Information
[18]

Shortly after President Johnson obliterated Senator Goldwater in the election, a local New Jersey newspaper gave Monique the star treatment with a feature article that trumpets her work for LBJ in the first two paragraphs (the earlier Time article does not identify the Daisy Girl by name):

New Jersey Courier
November 5, 1964
Page 11

LOCAL TOT COMMERCIAL MODEL IN TV; NATIONAL MAGAZINE

By Barbara Steele

Pine Beach—One of the most controversial political commercials to be shown on television during this presidential campaign featured a little girl plucking petals from a daisy. When she reached the last petal, the camera zoomed in for a close-up then switched to an atomic explosion.

The commercial shown on national network prime time was pulled off the air after a few showings. Thus marked the television debut of Monique Cozy, alias Monique Corzilius, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Corzilius, Tudor Ave. here.

NJ-Courier-Article-original copy-low

Monique’s short modeling/acting career (1964-1967, approximately) took off after the Daisy ad. She was in numerous clothing catalogs and fashion journals; she was in print ads in major magazines for a wide range of products—from a Kodak movie camera to the Polio sugar cube. She was in a number of television commercials. When discussing her various roles Monique can still recite her line from the long version of a mid-1960s Kool Pops ad: “Mm-hmm. Freezie-Squeezie sacks of frosty fruity fun!”

By age seven or eight the Daisy Girl retired with an impressive portfolio of work and a membership in the Screen Actors Guild. She recounted her immediate post-modeling career to CONELRAD: “I just continued in school in New Jersey and then in 1975 I moved to France with my family. The whole family moved to France… My grandparents had a restaurant in France and they asked my parents to take over the restaurant since they had five daughters by then and so we had that restaurant for four years. I met my husband in that restaurant as well.”

In 1983 Monique returned to the United States with her husband and, for a time, lived about two miles away from Senator Barry Goldwater’s home in Phoenix, Arizona. She never ran into the former presidential candidate, but she didn’t tempt fate either: “I wouldn’t even go into the Goldwater Department Stores,” she says with a laugh. As time marched on, coming forward as the Daisy Girl was not exactly a burning desire: “I had my life, my family, and I was working, [I had] my children, so it [revealing myself as the Daisy Girl] wasn’t a top priority for me, so I told my dad, maybe you can look into it.”

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA  Fred, Monique and niece Chloe

Fred decided to do something about setting the public record straight about his daughter’s participation in arguably the most famous commercial ever made when Barry Goldwater was promoting his 1988 autobiography, “Goldwater.” Indeed, he called a news station in Phoenix that was doing an interview with the retired senator, but they brushed the father of the Daisy Girl off by saying that they were focusing on the Goldwater’s accomplishments, not his disastrous 1964 presidential campaign.

That was the last time until now that the Corzilius family attempted to come forward to the media. Several years ago Monique’s son told his high school classmates that his mother was the Daisy Girl when the ad was shown in his history class. The reaction from the other kids was predictably harsh and dismissive. “They all laughed and [said] ‘you’re crazy,’” Fred said recounting the incident.

If the world at large has been skeptical or indifferent about Monique’s most famous performance, her family and friends have been just the opposite. The Daisy Woman says with a smile: “My kids, of course, are real proud that I did that [ad] and they’re just in awe that I actually did it… And [during the political season when television news runs clips from the Daisy ad] I’ll have calls from people who know I’m the Daisy Girl – you know like acquaintances and friends [who will say], ‘I saw Monique on TV! I saw Monique on TV!’ Yea, yea, I’ve seen it, too, whatever. It’s like, yea, OK, I know it comes out every four years or so.”

In August of 2009 Monique’s younger sister, Hillary, was on the Internet trying to show her daughter, Chloe, her aunt’s famous Daisy commercial and stumbled upon CONELRAD’s history of the ad. When Hillary noticed that CONELRAD erroneously identified Birgitte Olsen as the star of the ad, she immediately e-mailed Monique who was at work (she is now a Human Resources supervisor for a major financial institution). “My first reaction,” Monique recalls laughing, “was ‘what?!’ And so I went online and obviously let my parents know and my other sisters [know] and we just contacted you [CONELRAD] immediately.”

It was Fred’s pack-rat nature that caused him to save all of the evidence that is presented in the accompanying article that CONELRAD believes proves his daughter is the real Daisy Girl. Why did he hang on to all the material for so many years? He explained to us: “Well, one thing I thought about was there’s a lot of W-2s in here. Not a lot, but three or four. And some day if she had to collect Social Security she might need to prove that. We weren’t very neat at it. Our filing system is not the greatest and I’m a junk saver. My mother was very sentimental.”

Fred, too, is very sentimental and he could not be prouder of his daughter’s achievement. When asked about his emotions when he sees Monique’s Daisy clip pop up every now and again as part of a news special or on the History Channel he says: “I’m thrilled to death. You know, when one of your children has made something like that you think wow, one of my kids has gone down through the ages. Because I’m sure that will be shown for years and years and years…”

For her part Monique dismisses the notion that she is a living icon of the Cold War: “I don’t feel that way at all. I don’t know how to word it. I just know it’s me and I did that commercial, I just don’t feel I’m that famous. I don’t know how else to say it.”[19]

Daisy Girl-2009-lo Monique Corzilus, 2009. Daisies courtesy of CONELRAD.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

CONELRAD would like to thank Monique Corzilius, Fred Corzilius and Colette Brunner for their willingness to be interviewed by Bill Geerhart and for temporarily entrusting him with the many invaluable artifacts from Monique’s childhood career. This article would not have been possible without the family’s cooperation. We would also like to thank Sidney Myers, Monica Stuart, Jeffrey White, Eddie Brian, Kathleen Dowd, Anton Schwartz, Cynthia May and the archivists at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum for their earlier help in researching the many different aspects of this story.

EXHIBITS:

Exhibit Series A: New Jersey Courier Article

Exhibit Series B: Time Magazine Letter

Exhibit Series C: DNC Letter

Exhibit Series D: Monique Corzilius Portfolio Selections

Exhibit Series E: Elliot Unger & Elliot Pay Slip / Screen Gems Tax Document

Exhibit Series F: Modeling Contracts and Miscellaneous Evidence

Fine Print: All of the archival images and documents used in this article were provided to CONELRAD by the Corzilius family and they are used with exclusive permission. No images or documentation from this article may be reproduced without the written permission of the Corzilius family.


[1] Excerpt from the responding letter to Frederick C. Corzilius from Wayne Phillips dated August 19, 1965 courtesy of the Corzilius family. CONELRAD attempted to locate the complete correspondence including the originating letter by ordering copies of the entire contents of the Wayne Phillips file from the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum. The Phillips file does not contain the Corzilius correspondence nor does it contain any correspondence with the public. Per an archivist at the LBJ Presidential Library and Museum the correspondence is not contained in the general DNC files or the files of the then-DNC Chairman John M. Bailey, either (August 21, 2009 e-mail from LBJ archivist to Bill Geerhart).

[2] In-person interview conducted with Fred and Monique Corzilius on September 12, 2009. E-mail interview with Colette Brunner (Monique’s mother) conducted via e-mail on September 16, 2009.

[3] In-person interview conducted with Fred and Monique Corzilius on September 12, 2009.

[4] Rosemary Brian died in 1991, but CONELRAD confirmed with Mary Ellen White’s surviving nephew, Jeffrey White (Mary Ellen White died in 2006) that Brian worked for his aunt’s company (telephone interview with Mr. White conducted August 11, 2009). CONELRAD also confirmed Brian’s employment, her nervous tic, her hair color and her date of death with her surviving son, Eddie Brian (telephone interviews with Mr. Brian conducted August 11 and August 14, 2009 with a follow-up e-mail from Mr. Brian dated September 30, 2009). Per Jeffrey White the Mary Ellen White Company closed for business in the early 1990s and records from the company do not survive.

[5] In-person interview conducted with Fred and Monique Corzilius on September 12, 2009.

[6] Barbara Steele, “Local Tot Commercial Model In TV; National Magazine,” New Jersey Courier, pg.11, November 5, 1964 and in-person interview conducted with Fred and Monique Corzilius on September 12, 2009.

[7] D. Trevor, DDB staff introduction memo, June 26, 1963, Aaron Ehrlich Collection, Center for American History, Austin, TX.

[8] In-person interview conducted with Fred and Monique Corzilius on September 12, 2009. Interview with Colette Brunner (Monique’s mother) conducted via e-mail on September 16, 2009.

[9] Interview with Colette Brunner (Monique’s mother) conducted via e-mail on September 16, 2009.

[10] In-person interview conducted with Fred and Monique Corzilius on September 12, 2009.

[11] Barbara Steele, “Local Tot Commercial Model in TV; National Magazine,” New Jersey Courier, p. 11, November 5, 1964.

[12] In-person interview conducted with Fred and Monique Corzilius on September 12, 2009.

[13] Interview with Colette Brunner (Monique’s mother) conducted via e-mail on September 16, 2009.

[14] In-person interview conducted with Fred and Monique Corzilius on September 12, 2009.

[15] In-person interview conducted with Fred and Monique Corzilius on September 12, 2009. Interview with Colette Brunner (Monique’s mother) conducted via e-mail on September 16, 2009.

[16] Time magazine letter dated December 8, 1964 by Carolyn Cook to Mrs. Frederick Corzilius

[17] In-person interview conducted with Fred and Monique Corzilius on September 12, 2009.

[18] DNC letter dated August 19, 1965 by Wayne Phillips to Fred Corzilius. Phillips’ biographical information, including his position with the DNC, found in “Wayne Phillips, 63, Journalist and U.S. Official” (obituary), New York Times, September 7, 1988.

[19] In-person interview conducted with Fred and Monique Corzilius on September 12, 2009.

5 comments:

lyndon johnson said...

I am not as famous, however, we share an important name.

inMundoAnimal said...

Hi, my name is Edmundo Velázquez. I write for the magazine Campaigns & Elections in its spanish version. Can you help me to find or get an interview with Monique Crozilius? How can I find her?

Growing Hearts said...

Hi Monique,
I came across this photo and I remembered you showing it to me....so long ago. I have always wondered how you are doing. The photos of you are so sweet...little and current.
Would love to know more about how you are doing. You can e-mail me if you feel like it....
elizabethbravo@comcast.net
I have a grand son now....7 years old and he is the love of my life. I adore him. How are your kids...you had two I think last I saw you.
Anyway....just wanted to say hi!!
Elizabeth

Arlo Barnes said...

Useful links:

This entry has been linked as a reference from en.wikipedia.com/wiki/Daisy_(advertisement)

A transcript of the ad is available at the CONELRAD site here - mail.conelrad.com/daisy/documents.php which is the first hit on Google for 'daisy ad transcript'.

terje said...

Can't read the yellow text! Shame!