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Briscoe Center Receives "Lost" Mobil Film from Johnson Controls Archives

June 8, 2009

Jack Gilford, image from film short "I Won't Sell You a Battery," ca. 1963. ExxonMobil Historical Collection, Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Jack Gilford, image from film short "I Won't
Sell You a Battery," ca. 1963. ExxonMobil
Historical Collection, Briscoe Center for American
History, University of Texas at Austin.

Austin, Texas – A 16mm film discovered in the archives of Johnson Controls, Inc., has recently been donated to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin as an addition to its ExxonMobil Historical Collection. Produced by the Socony Mobil Oil Company around 1963, the 8-minute promotional short, "I Won't Sell You a Battery," features comic actor Jack Gilford in not one but six different roles.

"Because the ExxonMobil collection documents not only the energy industry, but touches on many aspects of our culture, it is only fitting that it should include the work of a Hollywood actor," said Dr. Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. "We're grateful to Johnson Controls for their donation to such an important collection."

Illustrating one of the many ways Mobil marketed its products and services, the film represents how oil companies and other industries capitalized on the talents of celebrities and character actors familiar to their customers. Because work of this nature often does not appear in an actor's filmography, this may well be a lost Jack Gilford performance.

Mobil Service Station, image from film short "I Won't Sell You a Battery," ca. 1963. ExxonMobil Historical Collection
Mobil Service Station, image from film short "I Won't
Sell You a Battery," ca. 1963. ExxonMobil Historical
Collection, Briscoe Center for American History,
University of Texas at Austin.

 

By the time Gilford made the Mobil battery short, he was emerging from a time of limited work due to his being blacklisted by Hollywood during the 1950s. He would go on to enjoy a good measure of critical success, notably his 1973 Academy Award nomination for the film Save the Tiger. He is best known to current audiences for his role in Cocoon. Gilford continued acting until his death on June 4, 1990, at the age of 81.

 

 

Jack Gilford, image from film short"I Won't Sell You a Battery, " ca. 1963. ExxonMobil Historical Collection, Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Jack Gilford, image from film short "I Won't
Sell You a Battery," ca. 1963. ExxonMobil
Historical Collection, Briscoe Center for American
History, University of Texas at Austin.

The ExxonMobil Historical Collection documents the long history of ExxonMobil Corporation, focusing on the activities and functions, including advertising and brand identity, of four major corporate entities—Standard Oil Company, founded in 1870 by John D. Rockefeller, Mobil Corporation, Exxon Corporation and ExxonMobil Corporation—as well as various predecessor, affiliate, and subsidiary companies, notably Texas-based Humble Oil & Refining Company and Magnolia Petroleum Company. Comprised of an estimated 4 million documents, 1.5 million photographs, 4,000 artifacts, and well over 30,000 moving image and sound recordings, it is the largest publicly available collection documenting a single petroleum company. ExxonMobil donated the collection to the Briscoe Center in 2003.

For more information, contact: Mat Darby, archivist, ExxonMobil Historical Collection, the Briscoe Center, 512-495-4515.

 

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