BRECK GIRL, September 1964

If you're of a certain age (old) you'll remember the Breck Girl. Women's magazines, teen girl magazines, ran full page ads showing a lovely girl with beautiful hair. The images were constantly changing. Blonds, brunettes, redheads...they ran the gamut. By the time I became aware of the ads the illustrator was Ralph William Williams. The illustration below was done by him.

(SOURCE: TEEN, September 1964) Click on image to see it larger.

I have not found any biographical information about the artist other than what is in this Wikipedia post about Breck Girls.
Breck Shampoo is an American brand of shampoo that is also known for its Breck Girls advertising campaign.
In 1930 Dr. John H. Breck, Sr. (June 5, 1877 – February 1965) of Springfield, Massachusetts, founded Breck Shampoo. In 1936, son Edward J. Breck (1907 - 1993) assumed management of Breck Shampoo and hired commercial artist Charles Gates Sheldon (1889 – 1961) to draw women for their advertisements. Sheldon's early portraits for Breck were done in pastels, with a soft focus and halos of light and color surrounding them. He created romantic images of feminine beauty and purity. He preferred to draw "real women" as opposed to professional models.
In 1957 Ralph William Williams succeeded Sheldon as the Breck artist. Unlike Sheldon, he often used professional women. Breck advertisements ran regularly in magazines such as Ladies Home Journal, Woman's Home Companion, Seventeen, Vogue, Glamour, and Harper's Bazaar. They were most often on the back cover of the magazine. During these years, Breck Girls were identified through the company's sponsorship of America's Junior Miss contests. After Williams' death in 1976, the advertising tradition stopped.
In 1963, Breck was sold to Shulton Division of American Cyanamid, a chemical company based in New Jersey.
In 1990, Breck was sold to the Dial Corporation.
In 2006, Breck was acquired by Dollar Tree of Chesapeake, Virginia. It continues to sell the variety of shampoos, plus moisturizing body washes and bubble baths in a variety of fragrances, such as "Lavender Lily" (2006) and "Vanilla Melon" (2007).
The Breck Girls ads are now in the advertising history records in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. (SOURCE: Wikipedia)
I didn't even know Breck was still being made. I remember using it as a teenager in hopes I'd look like one of the beautiful Breck Girls. I didn't.

I must say that this one looks a bit like Betty Crocker...another impossible standard to live up to.

I'll have to dig through my other magazines in hope of finding more.


  1. Felix0912/03/2012

    I still have my school annuals [yearbooks] of the 1950s and '60s, wherein many of the senior girls pictured look every bit as good as the Breck girls.

  2. I have also search for info about Ralph william williams. I think he is the man with a mustache, where photos of a composer rvw is. It is all I can find, about the artist who did romantic faces. He is attractive, too!...I must say. Sure would love to know everything about him, because my art came about, from admiring his back magazine cover, in 1958!!!!

    1. I found that the remaining collection of work is now owned by the Smithsonian:


  3. This Breck Girl is my Aunt Bernadette. She just passed away this week. She was in the print ads as well as on a billboard in NYC. Thanks for having this available for my family to share.

    1. Sorry to hear of her passing, but what a wonderful image for the family to have. Very special. Do you now how she got chosen to be a Breck Girl?