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Fascinating facts about the invention of the
Smiley Face
by Harvey Ball in 1964.

SMILEY FACE
AT A GLANCE:
There are few symbols which so fully represent the American spirit of friendship, happiness and peace as the smiley face. Harvey Ball, co-owner of an advertising and public relations firm in Worcester, Massachusetts designed the Smiley Face in 1964 to help ease the acrimonious aftermath following the merger of two insurance companies
THE STORY
BOOKS
WEB SITES
WHERE TO FIND
QUOTATIONS
DID YOU KNOW?
Invention: smiley face in 1964
Smiley Face Mouse Pad (see below)
Function: noun / symbol
Definition:  A round happy cartoon-like image, often black-on-yellow, a symbol of peace and joy  The smiley face represents the American spirit of friendship, happiness and peace.
Inventor: Harvey Ross Ball
NO
IMAGE
AVAILABLE
Birth: July 10, 1921 in Worcester, Massachusetts
Death: April 12, 2001 in Worcester, Massachusetts
Nationality: American
Milestones:
1964 Ball spent about 10 minutes designing the smiley face for his client, an insurance company
1970 Bernard and Murray Spain added the words "Have a nice day," to the smiley face
1971 At its peak of popularity, more than 50 million Smiley Face buttons were sold.
1999 United States Postal Service unveiled the Smiley Face Stamp
1999 First World Smile Day held
CAPS: Ball, Smiley Face, Harvey Ross Ball, Bernard Spain, Murray Spain, Have A Nice Day, ARYS, smiley face, :-),  symbol,
☺, SIPS, invention, history, inventor of, history of, who invented, invention of, fascinating facts.
The Story:
In the early 60s State Mutual Life Assurance of Worcester, MA initiated a merger that had bad effects on company morale. In 1964, State Mutual cooked up a “friendship campaign” to get employees to smile whenever they answered the phone, paid a claim, or typed a report. The company turned to Harvey Ball for graphic support. Ball reported that he spent about 10 minutes designing the smiley face, and he was paid $45 for it. This was the only profit that Ball ever made from his most famous creation. Neither Ball or the insurance company trademarked or copyrighted the smiley face. In the early 1970s, the smiley face image became a symbol for an entire generation of Americans, emerging as one of the most well-known images in the country.

The smiley face craze, was the work of two brothers in Philadelphia, Bernard and Murray Spain, who were in the business of making would-be fad items. In September of 1970 they drew up a smiley face added the words "Have a nice day," and copyrighted the image and words. Soon they and their many imitators were cranking out buttons, posters, greeting cards, shirts, bumper stickers, cookie jars, earrings, bracelets, key chains, and many other items. The fad lasted about a year and half; the number of smiley buttons produced by 1972 was estimated at 50 million.

TO LEARN MORE

ON THE BOOKSHELF:
Josh's Smiley Faces: A Story About Anger
by Gina Ditta-Donahue, Anne Catharine Blake / Paperback: 32 pages / Magination Press (2003)
A fictional story about a boy who learns how to manage his anger. Outlines a simple behavioral management approach that parents can follow with young children who have demonstrated problems coping with anger. Through the use of smiley faces, children are rewarded for acceptable behavior. Softcover, hardcover available.

ON THE WEB:
Friendship Campaign
In 1964, State Mutual cooked up a “friendship campaign” to get employees to smile whenever they answered the phone, paid a claim, or typed a report.
(URL: www.goodbyemag.com/apr01/ball.html)

Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation
It was quite a week for Mr. Ball's 1963 creation.  The World Smile Foundation launched the Embrace the FACE (Fund for Arts, Culture and Education) campaign at Worcester City Hall in an effort to create a license plate commemorating the internationally recognized bright yellow icon.
(URL: www.smileyplate.com/)
Creator of Smiley Face icon dies at 79
Harvey R. Ball, whose simple drawing of a smiling face on a yellow background became a cultural icon, died Thursday after a short illness. He was 79. By Associated Press, 04/13/01
(URL: www.boston.com/news/daily/13/smiley.htm)

Who invented the smiley face?
At times it seems as everyone invented the smiley face or at least claims to have invented.Article for Straightdope by Cecil Adams
(URL: www.straightdope.com/classics/a4_031.html)
World Smile Day
United States House of Representatives Proglamation declaring October 5, World Smile Day.
"There are few symbols which so fully represent the American spirit of friendship, happiness and peace as the smiley face. It is therefore my great pleasure to congratulate my friend Mr. Harvey Ball, and the entire Worcester community, on the occasion of World Smile Day."
(URL: www.house.gov/mcgovern/100199_smile.htm)

Emoticon Smiley Faces :-)
From Batman to Mike Tyson and everthing in-between.
(URL: www.gosmiley.com/emoticons1.html)
Symbols and Their Meanings
The phrase, "Have a nice day," was added by Murray Spain. It is estimated that by the end of 1972, over 50 million smiley face buttons were sold. Holy cow, that's a lot of joy.
(URL: symbolsandwich.typepad.com/symbolsandwich/pop_culture/)
Worcester Historical Museum
Harvey founded the World Smile Corporation, which licenses smiley's and organizes World Smile Day on the first Friday in October.
(URL: www.worcesterhistory.org/wo-smiley.html)

WHERE TO FIND:
Smiley Face Mouse Pad
Electronics / by American Covers /
ASIN: B0009DRTR0 / Less than $6.00

WORDS OF WISDOM:
"Have a nice day" - Bernard and Murray Spain
"A smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks"
- Anonymous

DID YOU KNOW?:

  • Harvey Ball would get letters from all over the world thanking him for Smiley. How do you put a price on that? He died with no apologies and no regrets.
  • At its peak of popularity in 1971, more than 50 million Smiley Face buttons were sold.
Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.
Reference Sources in BOLD Type. This page revised May 12, 2006.
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