overall: 6 in x 11 in x 13 1/4 in; 15.24 cm x 27.94 cm x 33.655 cm
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.