Tony Schwartz

Tony Schwartz

Anthony Schwartz (August 19, 192315 June 2008) was an American sound archivist and advertising creator. Known as the "wizard of sound," he is perhaps best known for his role in creating the controversial Daisy television ad for the 1964 Lyndon Johnson campaign.

Life and career

Considered a guru of the newly emerging "electronic media" by Marshall McLuhan, Schwartz ushered in a new age of media study in the 1970's. His works anticipated the end of the print-based media age, and pointed to a new electronic age of mass media.

Born in Manhattan, Schwartz was raised there briefly before his family moved to Crompond, New York. At 16, he went blind for about six months. He had previously been interested in ham radio, and the incident focused him more on sound, as did his lifelong agoraphobia.

He earned a degree in graphic design from the Pratt Institute and worked as a civilian artist for the United States Navy during World War II. He later earned honorary degrees from John Jay College, Emerson College and Stonehill College.

Schwartz began recording ambient sound and folk music, releasing many albums on Folkways Records and Columbia Records. One of his albums, "New York Taxi Driver," was among the first 100 recordings inducted into the National Recording Registry. From 1945 to 1976, Schwartz produced and hosted "Around New York" on WNYC.

He transitioned into advertising work in 1958 when approached by Johnson and Johnson about creating ads for their baby powder, because of his reputation for recording children. His resulting work is often credited as the first use of children's real voices in radio commercials (previously children had been portrayed by specially trained adults).

Briefly specializing in advertising using children, he soon broadened into general advertising, creating ads for such clients as Coca Cola, American Airlines, Chrysler, American Cancer Society, and Kodak.

Schwartz subsequently shifted his advertising work toward political campaigns. While continuing to create product ads, he created thousands of political ads for such candidates as Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern and Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

In a final transition in his career, he turned his energies toward public interest advertising for social causes. Early in his career he had created some of the first anti-smoking television and radio commercials. In the 1980s he resumed these efforts, creating many anti-smoking commercials, as well as media work for such causes as fire prevention, AIDS awareness, educational funding and nuclear disarmament.

In 2007, Schwartz’s entire body of work from 1947 to 1999, including field recordings and commercials, was acquired by the Library of Congress.

Schwartz's wife, Reenah Lurie Schwartz, often worked closely with him on scriptwriting. They were married in 1959, and had two children -- Michaela Schwartz-Burridge and jazz saxophonist Anton Schwartz.

Tony Schwartz is famous for saying "The best thing about radio is that people were born without earlids. You can't close your ears to it."



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