Maybe the most famous tear in pop culture. Iron Eyes Cody, an actor in Native American clothing showing us the tragedy of littering. He made his debut in 1971 at the close of a public service advertisement for the anti-litter organization Keep America Beautiful.
At the time of the commercial’s debut, the counter-culture was starting to embrace Native Amercian Culture. Iron Eyes Cody could be seen in printed ads, television, and billboards. He was known by the press as the “Crying Indian.”
Born on April 3, 1904, as Espera Oscar de Corti, Cody’s parents were both Sicilian immigrants (Antonio de Corti and wife, Francesca Salpietra). He grew up in Gueydan, Vermilion Parish, Louisiana, where his parents ran a grocery store.
He portrayed Indians in television shows and movies dating back to 1926. His last appearance was in the 1970s spoof movie The Spirit of 76 released in 1990. He played the role on-screen as well as off…He would deny he wasn’t Native American as late as 1996 and until he passed away in 1999 at the age of 94.
Real or not he did have an effect on me…To a young kid, this hit home. I remember this commercial rather well and there is another anti-littering commercial that I remember. Only people in Tennessee would probably remember it was called “Tennessee Trash.” I have it below the Iron Eye’s Cody video.
The below commercial in 1976 was so popular that they remade it twenty-two years later. I have to say the song will stay in your head. It was filmed on an unopened stretch of I-24 at the time. The theme was sung by country singer-songwriter Ed Bruce and features Irving Kane as the ultimate litterbug.