The Coppertone Girl Comes Home
On December 2, 2008 the refurbished Coppertone Girl sign will be returned to a place of prominence in the historic MiMO area of Miami. The sign has undergone reconstruction at Tropical Signs in Miami.
The original Coppertone Girl sign was made in 1958 at my father's original company; Tropicalites. Ironically they were located not far from where the sign will be reinstalled on Biscayne Blvd. Tropicalites was on North West 54th Street about 3 blocks from Biscayne Blvd.
I was only 12 years old but I remember my father talking about meeting the inventor of the Coppertone product, Mr.Benjamin Green. He also met Abe Plough the founder of Shearing-Plough. My brother-in-law Marvin Goodman came to work in 1958 for my father's company and he remembers the sign being finalized and he was involved in the installation at the orignal home on the Parkleigh House on Biscayne Blvd.
Some of the other early signs that were done by Tropicalites were Rayco (I think the original Tropicalites label is still on the sign), the Vagabond Motel in MiMO, Burger King (We made the first 700 signs for them) and all the original Royal Castles. I remember meeting Bill Singer the founder of Royal Castle). There were other prominent signs near the Parkleigh House which were also made by Tropicalites: Delta Airlines, Hertz Rent-A-Car and the wonderful dinosaur for Sinclair.
My father merged the company with Claude and they became one of the largest sign companies in the United States in the early 60's. It wasn't working the way he had hoped so he left with his original sketchman; Larry Moore who drew most of the original Coppertone layouts for the signs, Marvin my brother-in-law and his two main accounts; Burger King and of course Coppertone. I came into the company which was now Bengis Associates after college in 1968 and I handled both accounts as my father was not well which was why I came into the business. The Coppertone account became huge and we must have had 500 signs all over the east coast but none more prominent than the "original" on the Parkleigh House which will now adorn the streets of MiMO.
Photos: top-left: Coppertone dog undergoes repair at Tropical Signs in 2008; above-right: Coppertone girl is maintained at its original home on Biscayne Blvd in Miami; left: Brenda and Jerry Bengis at removalof sign from Concord Building in 2008.
Join us at the party on December 2nd, here's your invitation from The MiMO Biscayne Association...