The Stamford Advocate
Actress, Animals Star in Commercial for State
Wilton - They tried it with Basil the goat, but Basil wouldn't budge. Then someone said, better yet, try Bottom the burro. Bottom was brilliant.
Thus began yesterday the first day of filming television spots in the state's latest attempt to promote Connecticut's two-year-old slogan, "Better Yet Connecticut."
Wilton's celebrated June Havoc, former actress and vaudeville star, and some of her farm animals - including Quack the goose - walked along a driveway at Cannon Crossing yesterday for the first segment of a 30-second commercial.
State officials are hoping the star-studded spots - featuring famous Connecticut residents such as Paul Newman, Rex Reed and Oscar de la Renta - will become as popular and successful as New York's "I Love New York" spots in promoting tourism.
"Let's just say they'll all be speaking from the heart and telling why they enjoy living in the state," said Carol Wallace, slogan committee chairman on the Governor's Vacation Travel Council. "We want to show a little history of the state, too."
Wallace said the filming for three different commercials - which is being done by Hartford's WFSB Productions for $27,500 - will be done throughout the state with a number of different Connecticut celebrities. The tourism official declined to be more specific as to what other locations will be used, except to say one will be at a covered bridge.
"We will be covering every aspect of the state," she added.
Yesterday, Havoc and her animals were the center of everyone's attention. The actress was made up, the goat wore a scarf and around the neck of the goose was a red, white and blue streamer. Everything was all set until the goat refused to walk in front of the cameras. Someone tempted him with a head of lettuce. "Come on, honey," Havoc said to the goat. "Come on." It was no go. Someone ran over and tried moving the goat. Nothing.
"Get the burro," someone said. The goose was no problem, except for a few flyaway feathers. The director shook his head. All of the people working on the productions, including the stars, scriptwriters and an advertising agency, will be donating their time, Wallace said. For now, the commercials will be shown in Connecticut as public service announcements, with possible future showings in New York and New Jersey. The first one is expected to air in July. Money for the filming of the commercials was donated by banks and travel councils around the state.
"I think it's a great idea," said Havoc, who seemed to be enjoying the attention she was getting from the press and the television cameras. She was dressed in navy blue slacks, a "Better Yet Connecticut" sweatshirt and pink running shoes. "I like the slogan. I'm sure there will be others and more and more."
Havoc was one of the stars chosen for the spots because of her prominence among Connecticut celebrities and the work she did to restore Cannon Crossing, a collection of antique stores, a railroad station a restaurant, and her home.
Havoc, whose sister was entertainer Gypsy Rose Lee, was known as "Dainty June, the Darling of Vaudeville." In 1933, she danced for 3,600 consecutive hours - four months - and is recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. She also appeared in 42 films, such as "Gentlemen's Agreement" and "Chicago Deadline."