Once registered, you can:

  • - Read additional free articles each month
  • - Comment on articles and featured creative work
  • - Get our curated newsletters delivered to your inbox

By registering you agree to our privacy policy, terms & conditions and to receive occasional emails from Ad Age. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Are you a print subscriber? Activate your account.


By Published on .

It marked my first big break in television. In 1954 or '55, back when agencies produced network TV shows. I was a junior assistant producer at Lennen & Mitchell (later Lennen & Newell).

We were producing "Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour" for Old Gold cigarettes, live, of course. I was down on the studio floor when Ted introduced a young accordionist named Jefferson Smith. Mr. Smith stood 6 feet 4 inches and was dressed in a plaid shirt and red tie. Curly hair, good-looking, big smile. From Carroll County, Iowa. He played "God Bless America."

A couple of bars into the song, we realized that as he was pumping the accordion, and as the air escaped, it kept blowing open his fly, which was visibly unzipped.

Now in those days, we had fixed-position cameras. We could pan left and right. And we could tilt up and down, but we couldn't zoom. Suddenly, the director said "Kelmenson, get in there and close the kid's fly! I'll raise the camera!"

I crawled onto the set, reached up and grabbed the zipper just as I heard the director say: "Oh --! Leo's hand is in the shot." I had two thoughts: God Bless America, and welcome to show business.

Leo-Arthur Kelmenson began his advertising career in 1951 at Lennen & Mitchell in New York, moving to Norman Craig & Kummel in 1965, where he was executive VP. He joined Kenyon & Eckhardt in 1967 as senior VP and management supervisor. He became the agency's chief executive officer a year later, and in 1984 was named president, chairman and CEO. He now is chairman of the board of Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon & Eckhardt.

Most Popular
In this article: