|Dom Cerulli 1927-2012|
I’ve known Mark and his family since before I could drive a car. Since we both went to the same Catholic high school that served dozens of towns in Westchester and Putnam counties in NY, my folks would have to drive me to Mark’s house and pick me up later. I spent quite a few hours in the Cerulli home during high school.
|Dom edited Downbeat Magazine in the 50's and 60's|
The third time I visited Mark’s house was when I first met Dom, and what struck me about him was how fascinated Dom was in - - well, simply everything. There wasn’t a topic where he didn’t show an interest, and he seemed to be able to relate a story to anything that came up. I asked him about some of his work on the walls of his den, and Dom would tell stories about a project, or people he knew whom he met during an ad campaign. Dom seemed to be everywhere during the 50’s and 60’s, and managed to be both a creator, and an appreciative audience for both the world of jazz, and the advertising world.
|Did you like the "Cola Nuts" 7-Up commercials? That was Dom's.|
|Probably the most famous American ad, ever.|
|Two-Ton Tony (right), taking on Max Baer.|
I only met Two-Ton Tony after he had long retired, but he gave me a piece of advice that I think about a lot at times like this. He told me, “Kid (I was nine years old at the time when he told me this), you're in school every day of your life, and every life is a lesson - - if you're smart.” So, when I’m asked to talk about people and their lives, I try to think of what lesson can be found in a person's life.
Let’s get back to Uncle Sam and that Army poster. Back when Mark and I were in high school, Dom worked for an advertising agency that was given the task of coming up with a new campaign for the Army - - replacing a classic campaign that was an icon. This would be like putting a different smile on the Mona Lisa, or rearranging the Washington Monument. But Dom was given that task and it had to be done, and the Army had to like it when it was done. A tall order.
Back in 1917, when James Montgomery Flagg painted the portrait of Uncle Sam, he used his own face as the model for the guy on the poster. So when you’re looking at Uncle Sam, you’re actually looking at James Montgomery Flagg, the artist himself.
I think that’s the same thing that happened when Dom came up with the motto for the Army's new ad campaign. He found that model within himself, and gave us all the new phrase: “Be All You Can Be.” So, I think that’s Tony Galento’s life lesson from Dom Cerulli: “Be All You Can Be.”
Rest in Peace, Dom.