Breck Shampoo and the Breck Girl
In 1930 Dr. John H. Breck, Sr. (June 5, 1877 - Feb 1965) founded Breck Shampoo of Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1936, son Edward J. Breck 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 haloes 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 ads ran regularly in magazines such as Ladies Home Journal, Woman's Home Companion, Seventeen, Vogue, Glamour and Harpers 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.
The Breck Girls ads are now in the advertising history records in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.