'Daisy Ad' Creator, Whose Collection is at LOC, Dies

I was saddened today to learn of the death of Tony Schwartz.

You might not immediately know the name, but many Americans — especially those who participate in or follow political campaigns — are undoubtedly aware of at least one piece of his work.

Schwartz was the creator of a famous and controversial 1964 TV ad for Lyndon Johnson, which showed a girl picking petals from a daisy and then a giant nuclear mushroom cloud.  While the ad did not mention the Republican nominee, Barry Goldwater, by name, the narrator said that “the stakes (were) too high” to stay home on election day.  Regardless, the implication was clear.

The ad itself and the techniques used still reverberate in American politics to this day.

But Schwartz’s legacy will prove to be much greater than a single ad.  For more than five decades, he was an avid collector of audiovisual material, including a vast collection of urban folklore and soundscapes from New York City, which found a permanent home last year in the Library of Congress.

As Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said at the time:

The collection is a treasure trove of unpublished audio-visual material to be explored and discovered by researchers, scholars and patrons. By acquiring and preserving this collection for the American people, the Library of Congress will serve generations of historians, archivists, documentary producers and the general public seeking to experience the voices, sounds and images of post-war America.

My condolences to Schwartz’s family and loved ones.  I hope at least there is solace in this important and permanent legacy that is now available to everyone.

(By the way, my apologies on the lengthy blogging absence.)


  1. Kim
    June 17, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    RIP Schwartz

  2. Gary McGath
    June 18, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    Being remembered as the creator of a vicious smear is a poor legacy.

  3. Matt Raymond
    June 24, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    That’s typical journalistic practice. Plus, I didn’t know him personally.

  4. Konrad
    July 9, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    It might have been a smear but it contained a strong message nonetheless – sometimes those are needed.

    R.I.P. Tony

  5. PLR Fast
    March 30, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Interesting, thanks for all your great writing

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.