Newspaper Articles

Cowsill Family Films Commercials
by T. Curtis Forbes
July 22, 1968
Newport Daily News
Newport, Rhode Island

FILMING THE COWSILLS - Suzie Cowsill hams it up druing filming of commercials to be aired nationally. This is a scene that was shot on the brigatine the Black Pearl.

Newport with its beaches, parks, mansions and its famous singing family, The Cowsills, will receive unprecedented television exposure beginning in September

The exposure will be in the form of television commercials varying in length. They will be shown in prime time throughout the winter. All the commercials have been filmed in recent weeks, at various locations on Aquidneck Island.

They show the Cowsill family singing, cavorting, and, most important from the sponsors point of view - drinking milk. The sponsor is the American Dairy Association, which represents 500,000 dairy farmers from coast to coast and spends $15 - million annually to promote the consumption of milk.

Filming alone of the commercials here, which took more than two weeks, stopped traffic on Bellevue Avenue, caused crowds to gather on the waterfront and a lot of other fun things, cost almost $100,000.

W. E. Rehmann, promotion director of the 28-year-old association, said that the association will spend a considerable amount of money in buying television time.

"I am not at liberty to discuss the figure, but it is considerable," Rehmann said, noting that the contract with the Cowsill family alone with renewal for five years is the largest product endorsement promotion by a personality contract in the history of television.

The association has used other personalities in the past such as Hugh Downs and a group called the Energetics but never to the extent of the Cowsill family.

"We like to use national personalities, and the Cowsills are right there at the top," the promotion directory said, noting the exposure will not be limited to television but will appear in newspaper and magazine ads and on radio spots.

"Newport can't help but benefit by the promotion," he said. "When the Cowsills said they wanted to film the commercials in their hometown, I was hesitant, but they showed me pictures of Newport, I fell in love with the idea."

William Cowsill Sr., who as head of the household directs the future of the group which skyrocketed to fame, said, "We wanted to shoot here because this is our home and we owe a lot to Newport and all our friends. No matter where we go, this is home."

More than 40 people, including directors, sound and camera men, wardrobe people, prop men, make-up men, took part in the filming process.

The filming was produced by Jack Davis of the Compton Agency for the association. Actual filming was done by VPI Film Productions, directed by Jack Goodford.

Television viewers will see many familiar locations in the commercials, such as the band stand at King's Park, the Bellevue Avenue shopping area and Newport Beach.

The gardens of Mrs. William Langley's Bellevue Avenue estate will be one of the less familiar, but decidedly Newport backgrounds for one of the commercials.

"We made much use of the beautiful homes here," Gerry Gilman of the film company said. Some of the homes that were photographed were Normandy House, the home of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Stackpole; the Ledges, home of Mr. and Mrs. Howard Cushing; the Wetmore estate and Vernon Court.

The Cowsill will be shown singing and drinking milk on the Barclay Warburton's brigantine the Black Pearl. In the front seat of a bright red fire truck and in the middle of Bellevue Avenue during a downpour.

"We went everywhere and received the utmost cooperation of everyone involved, including city officials and private individuals, "We want to thank all who helped," Gilman said.

Following the filming, the Cowsills have done several concerts. They will appear on several nationally televised specials beginning in September. For a while they will be living in California.

"But we will be back in the future," the senior Cowsill says, "to film a full-length feature movie. We've had three offers and are waiting for the right situation to develop."

So, if you don't see the Cowsills around town for awhile, just turn on your television set and there they are.

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