Okay, I know that I said that two weeks of Dead Horse Bay archeology was enough, but we went back there last weekend and I happened to find this Charles Antell “Formula No. 9” jar. Never heard of the product before, but its vintage styling and hormonal claims piqued my interest.
Promoted as a baldness cure—(“Did you ever see a bald-headed sheep?”)—the lanolin-based Formula No. 9 was the premier product of Charles D. Kasher’s Baltimore-based hair care juggernaut: Charles Antell, Inc. (“Antell” was his Mother’s maiden name.)
Originally this milkglass jar’s cap was white, enameled metal. (See photo on right from Pro Commerce) After 50 years buried in a Brooklyn landfill, its rusty cap has now bonded with surrounding rocks and roots. Giving the jar, itself, an epic hairdo.
Pictured above, holding a jar of Formula No. 9 in his hand, Charles D. Kasher looks like an interesting character. The product does not appear to have prevented hair loss in his case.
A gifted huckster, Kasher was a master of the unusually long sales pitch. (The more you tell, the more you sell.) His 30 minute television commercials (with titles like “A Hair Raising Tale”) were among the earliest examples of what would eventually be called, the infomercial…
“Ladies and gentlemen, I have done everything but go into your home and put it on your hair every day for thirty days. Now, it’s up to you. If you’re tired of hair trouble, and you believe as I do that [Charles Antell Formula No. 9] has the answer, step to your telephone now. Call the number you are about to hear. And if you don’t believe, or aren’t convinced, call the number anyhow. Because if it works, and it will, it’s certainly worth the price … if it doesn’t, it has cost you nothing.”
via: NY Folklore
His Life Magazine photo accompanied an article entitled, “Money Makers of a New Era”— subtitled: “Despite taxes they take risks and make money from own businesses.” (Note to today’s neo-Reagan Republicans: Charles Antell, Inc. made loads of money and employed people despite taxes and certain onerous governmental regulations…)
Docket 6102, Charles Antell Co., Inc., and others. Order issued December 18, 1953 The order issued by the Commission in this case prohibited false and misleading advertising of Charles Antell Formula No. 9… This order affected the advertising program of Charles Antell amounting to approximately $8,000,000 annually. Among other things the order forbade claims that Formula No. 9 would prevent baldness or loss of hair…
One year later, Billboard reported that Kasher had cashed out, leaving the hair care company that he founded and starting a new television advertising company called “Television Advertising Associates” or TAA. (Note how Billboard characterizes Kasher’s career as a “meteoric rise” from “hepest of hep med workers” to “top spot on the totem pole at Charles Antell”) Although he does not yet seem to have a Wikipedia page, Charles D. Kasher was a serial entrepreneur whose main career was yet to be revealed…
(More about Charles D. Kasher, after the fold…)
I met Charlie Kasher in “the village” New York City in 1959 in a little Jazz Club called “The Page Three” He was divorced, and So Cool!!!!! He was retired and was a big Jazz Fan. He knew everybody in Jazz. Dizzy, Billie Holliday, Ella, Carmen, all the greatest cats! Errol Garner used to run off the stage to greet him, as did all of the Jazz Cats. I married him and had a had a Son, Joseph Harris Kasher in 1961. We divorced about 3 or 4 years later (I was his 5th wife) I loved him ’till the day he died. He bought his way into the Movie Business becoming partners with with Harry Saltzman (Saturday Night, Sunday Morning etc, etc. Great Cat. They started to cast James Bond, and we sat thru endless film ’till they chose Sean Connery. Then Albert “Cubby” Broculli didn’t want Charlie as a third partner, so they gave him the Michael Caine movies “The Ipcress File”, and “Funeral in Berlin”. Oh Charlie was a very Cool Cat!
Lois Ann Cox-Kasher, September 2008
from a comment on Pro Commerce
Since Kasher’s fifth wife has confirmed that he had died, I was curious about the end of his life and puzzled not to find an obituary for him online. I did learn that he was born July 13, 1912 and died at the age of 87 in April 24, 1999 in Kings County. (Brooklyn—the same borough where we found the jar)
There’s a Charles Kasher mentioned in a 1997 Daily News story about an “assisted living facility” in Park Slope. I figure, the time, the place and the age all fit, so it’s probably him:
On the face of it, the Prospect Park Residence in Park Slope could be mistaken for a lavish, state-of-the-art hotel.
…But a close look at the folks staying in the imposing limestone building hints at its true function.
Their average age is 83. And they are not so much guests as residents of Brooklyn’s first assisted-living facility.
These facilities combine the independence of apartment living with the backup care of a nursing home. Residents live in their own studio or one-bedroom flats, but they have the added protection of 24-hour emergency response and medical facilities on the premises…
Charles Kasher, 85, was among the first of the 35 people who have moved into the building. He doesn’t need the medical assistance, but he enjoys the company of the other residents.
“Its not bad,” said Kasher, whose one-bedroom apartment has sweeping views of the arch at Grand Army Plaza. “There are nice people about . . . and pretty girls.”
Assisted Living It Up At Facility For Seniors
by Tara George, NY Daily News, Tuesday, December 23, 1997
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