Article from: "Sic ‘em
Tigers," Newsweek, May 3, 1965. page 92.
Sic 'em, Tigers
Once upon a tiger skin, an unknown actress named Barbara Feldon lay down and purred, "I want a word with all you tigers." Then she began to writhe on the $2,500 pelt, extolling the salubrious and erotic magic of a Revlon hairdressing called Top Brass. She puckered up her peculiar chipmunk mouth and growled, "So get the medicated hairdressing, Top Brass, and sic' em."
Since then, the sales of Top Brass have soared, although the competition-conscious Revlon refuses to say how much. But the tongue-in-cheek, wet-lipped, boudoir approach has done even better for the 28-year-old Mrs. Feldon. In a medium where housewives with chapped hands, teen-agers with bad breath, and grandmothers with arthritis pains flit across the screen with persistent anonymity, she has suddenly emerged as a star. She has been featured on a dozen television shows, from "Profiles in Courage" to "Mr. Broadway," has made personal appearance tours for Revlon, and has landed a regular role in a prime-time NBC series this fall, "Get Smart" a parody of the James Bond-style spy series.
"I needed an epic sex pot for a 'Nurses' episode," said movie and TV director Lamont Johnson, who first spotted her in the Top Brass commercial. "There is almost nothing right with her personally: one eye droops, her legs are skinny, she has buck teeth. But she radiates something marvelous. She is innately chic, so all these things combine to make her physical problems assets. The combination will make her a star."
If she does become a star, it will be because of what she calls her "cozy" approach. "I always come off rather cozily," she said last week in the red study of the fifth-floor walk-up in New York that she shares with her husband, Lucien Feldon, a photographer's representative. "My eyes are on the limpid side because I'm terribly nearsighted."
Coziness, however, has not always been in vogue. After graduation from the Carnegie Institute of Technology, she came to New York and "did the usual things. I had bit parts on television. I had a 'crawl-on' in 'Caligula.' I crawled on stage and ate a few grapes. I wanted to do commercials, but the soft sell wasn't 'in' then."
Spy: She ran a Greenwich Village art gallery with her husband for two years, then modeled for Vogue and other magazines. In 1962, she did a deodorant commercial while sensually wrapped in a towel. Revlon immediately signed her to a three-year contract. "Everything I've done has been tongue-in-cheek," she said. "I was a spy for Fabulash."
In "Get Smart," she will play a bumbling Bondette (Agent 99) who operates with Don Adams (Agent 86). "Up to now, my most strenuous sport has been pool," she said. "Now I'm taking fencing, horseback, and driving lessons. In the pilot film, we had to fight in what we supposed would be a pile of rubber garbage. But where do you get rubber garbage? That was real garbage. It absolutely fractured me."
Being fractured, having fun, doing new things, all make up the tiger lady's ambition, and she seems to be having her way. While other commercials--such as Brylcreem and the new Mr. Clean ("He's mean!") -are capitalizing on the erotic "coziness" she originated, Mrs. Feldon is going on to still greater heights. This spring, Top Brass will feature the sexy Feldon lower lip and sloe eyes hunting tigers -from a howdah on top of an elephant in the middle of Chicago. Howdah ya like that?
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