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Celebrities, Studios, Speedways, and Scoundrels

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Published on Thu, Jul 23, 2015

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

BOOK REVIEW: WINDY CITY ADMAN Celebrities, Studios, Speedways, and Scoundrels By Bill Maloney Ohana Road Publishing ISBN: 978-9896556-0-6 206 pages w/illustrations $14.95 usd Review by Doug Stokes
Windy City Adman by Bill Maloney

Friends … Are you bothered by bunions, perturbed by your prostate? Do your neighbors smirk, stare, and shake their heads when you drive home in last year’s model SUV. Do you suffer ridicule when ordering the wrong beer at the ball park? Do you have prickly heat and stinky feet? Do your children constantly ask when you are going to… and so on. Well then, welcome to the world of an unabashed, unvarnished, (almost) unbelievable early-adapting adman that’s made up of equal parts of tidbits, teases, treatises, tricks of the trade, and twice-told tales and can be found at the high speed, high stakes intersection of Madison Avenue and Wacker Drive. Aptly named, this breezy (“Windy City … get it?) is the biography of one of the real characters of the wonderful world of car people—Bill Maloney. Here, he takes us on a thrill ride through his life as a salesman, huckster, tub-thumper, shill, benign charlatan, self-proclaimed radio and TV star, and a nuts-on, picture- perfect poster-boy “Adman” in every aspect that the word implies. I must here note that I’m very sure that Bill (and I know this guy) wrote every word in this book (save the forward penned by Larry Mason and an un-credited two-page sort of a press release “bio” that closes the book). This is a personal, first-person-positive, often frenetic, minute-to-minute accounting of the working life of one colorful and cock-sure dude—an American ad-venture story told in jokes, boasts, and anecdotes. Maloney’s journey though the wild world of advertising takes him into early contact with network TV and through that, contact with a whole raft of celebrities, many of them quite early-on. His tales of interaction and occasional entanglement with a number of well-know names (much of which involved heavy imbibing and three-hour lunch meetings in all of the fabled watering holes of the rich and infamous) in the entertainment industry. Let’s see, there’s: Jackie Cooper, Gene Hackman, Sonja Heine, Art Linkletter, Arte Johnson, Jay Leno, George Lucas, Mitch Miller, George Schlatter, Paul Williams …and a few more that I’ve probably missed. As far as his automotive buddies go (Maloney was almost constantly involved with producing, and oft starring in, radio and TV shows that featured motorsports), he has a few. On route along the way, Maloney collides with a collection of name players, among them: Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Don Garlits, Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Carroll Shelby, Al Unser, Danny Sullivan, Paul Newman, Rodger Ward and so on. Along that same way, Maloney had a bit of driving success himself in amateur racing aboard his classic Austin-Healey sports car which now calls Jay Leno’s garage home. Here’s the story of a guy who lived through (and was a working part of) the golden age of big agency advertising. You know, the one came to life on the TV series “Madmen”. Only this stuff all really happened. Funny, wisecracking, boisterous, boasting (yeah, a little … no … actually a lot) but then that’s what bios are all about …the ones that start: “Actually I didn’t do very much in my life…” (and then goes on to prove it) are not going to be very well-read I suspect. Hey, wake up and smell the Martinis. This is a story that has a tale about promoting and selling just about everything that Americans buy and hold holy. From making ads about Baby Ruth Bars to coming up with one of the first in-your-face high performance auto advert campaigns “Dodge’s Scat City”, for Maloney its “been there, wrote the copy for that.” Easy to read, Maloney’s evidently self-edited story ends up being just good old fun. He’s telling his story, in his way, on his own time, and you have to admire the sort of chutzpah that he’s been able to maintain for a long, long time. There are far more serious sagas of the ad biz, but this one is funny, irreverent, and (to the best of my knowledge) pretty damn accurate. - DS To purchase the book on Amazon, click here.

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