Oh Look Here Is an Ad for the Popular Family Board Game Clue, Dating from 1984 and Starring F. Lee Bailey

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09/30/2009 3:11 PM |

While writing the Banned Books Week post from earlier today, I remembered that, while I was writing my 8th grade research paper on school censorship, I had pulled from my school library’s “vertical file” a New Yorker article from 1984, about book banning in eastern Maine.

Do you find that, most of the time, when you’re “doing research” in old newspapers and magazines, that you’re mostly just looking at all the other articles on adjacent pages, the bylines and the ads, while wondering what your parents had for dinner that night, et cetera? Yeah, me too. For those of you who are New Yorker subscribers, the whole article (by the noted Frances FitzGerald) is heartily recommended; for those of you who are not, I have reproduced the full-page ad that appeared on page 55 of the January 16, 1984 issue of the New Yorker

(Click to enlarge.)

Why, yes, that is F. Lee Bailey—defense attorney for Sam Sheppard, Albert De Salvo, Patty Hearst and, later, O.J. Simpson—trying to persuade you to buy Clue. (Alas, the Clue box is too small to tell what the characters are wearing.) Or, rather, that’s F. Lee Bailey’s pre-Photoshop disembodied head, placed necklessly atop a Cosby sweater and in front of some screaming children—trying to persuade you to buy Clue.

Anyway, I was born six months later, the kids in that ad have kids of their own, the kitschy poignancy of that boy’s feathered haircut makes everyone stop to marvel at time’s swift and merciless passage, the end.