The story was based on a real one...
Back in 1936, Shepherd Mead got a job with Benton & Bowles,
one of THEE advertising firms of the day.
His first job (of course) was as a mail clerk,
but he eventually worked his way up to a vice presidency.
So this is a (satirical) tale worthy of
a.) a book! A best seller in fact...written in 1952 in
Shepherd's spare moments away from "adverting",
with the subtitle "The Dastard's Guide to Fame and Fortune,"
and b.) a very successful musical (1961) and movie (1967).
Above is Shepherd now...
I mean, Robert Morse, as J. Pierrepont Finch
(called "a rumpled, dimpled angel with a streak of Lucifer").
Evidently coffee was as big back then as it is now:
Charles Nelson Reilly, as the original Bud Frump,
and below, mid throes-of-anguish,
with Claudette Sutherland as Smitty.
Having worked in advertising for all of 1.75 years in the early 80s
(the boring pharmaceutical kind),
I can tell you these coffee trucks existed even then,
and were just as revered!
Rudy Vallee was chosen to play
the president of the World Wide Wicket
(hey, the first www?) Company,
J. B. Biggley.
All went well til Rudy wanted to add some of his hit songs
to the score.
Music-meister Frank Loesser nixed that,
as did director Abe Burrows.
For a good memoir read, btw,
try Burrows' "Honest Abe"...
Robert and Charles both won acting Tonys for their performances,
plus 5 more for the show, including Best Musical.
(And don't forget the Pulitzer Prize for Drama!)
Great quote from Walter Kerr, of the New York Herald Tribune:
"Not a sincere line is spoken in the new
Abe Burrows-Frank Loesser musical,
and what a relief that is...
How to Succeed is crafty, conniving, sneaky, cynical, irreverent,
impertinent, sly, malicious, and lovely, just lovely."
In revivals, the show has been called dated
("all the romantic brouhaha with moony secretaries is beyond retro")
Above the "Secretary Is Not A Toy" number,
from the movie,
and below "No Coffee"
which was unfortunately jettisoned.
Choreography by Bob Fosse,
who worked on the staged production as well,
but chose not to be credited with such