Beauty and the Beer

BEAUTY and the BEER: A proposal for my personal memoir Before American Idol, the Mad Men created Miss Rheingold, America’s second largest election! If you were ever to attend one of the hundreds of celebrity autograph shows, such as the Hollywood Collectors … Continue reading

A snippet of the history of the Miss Rheingold contest!

  My name is Celeste Yarnall and I was the last elected Miss Rheingold for 1964 and you will find some clips from my interview in this documentary which is a work in progress. Lot’s of great nostalgia here so … Continue reading

The Health Benefits of Smiling!

443Celeste Yarnall  by AM Hi res 231

“Everytime you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
~ Mother Teresa

It’s so easy in our everyday lives to become consumed by all all the things we have to do, as well as the financial pressures we must endure when money is tight. Feeling down and negative about it all, from time to time strikes all of us, but even when you feel your own stress building up inside you, did you know that perhaps the very best thing you can do is put on a happy face? Yes, even if it means you have to force a phoney smile.

“Peace begins with a smile.”
~ Mother Teresa

It has been said that a photograph or the on camera face of a wholesome female model or actress (perhaps actor), looking right into the camera induces people to buy products–so we know advertisers know the power of a smile! We all inherently know the power of a smile too! We feel good whilst smiling and we feel good when we are smiled at.

Recently however, we find that the simple, natural act of smiling actually helps our health by lowering our heart rate and relieving our stress levels.

An interesting study, took place at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, required participants to hold a variety of facial expressions while enduring stress-provoking situations. The researchers recruited 169 college-age volunteers, of whom half were men and half were women. They were provided with chopsticks and taught to hold them in their mouths while making certain facial expressions. They produced a neutral look, a smile that only involved the mouth, and a Duchenne smile, which is more of a true smile that requires activity in muscles of both the mouth and the eyes. To half of the subjects, the suggestion was made that the Duchnenne smile was to be made like a smile. The other half was simply directed on the muscular action needed.

The entire group of participants were told they would be multi-tasking while holding the chopsticks in their mouths and keeping a particular expression on their faces. The tasks they needed to perform were designed to be difficult and therefore heighten their stress levels. For instance, the volunteers were made to trace a star shape using their non-dominant hand working off a mirror reflection or plunging a hand into ice water (not something we usually would want to smile about).

The researchers monitored the heart rates of the subjects both during and after the tasks. The smilers had lower heart rates than those wearing neutral expressions. The greatest difference was found in those who executed a Duchenne smile that is most similar to a true smile. However, even the participants who formed a smile with their mouths only had lower heart rates than those keeping a neutral face, suggesting that any sort of grin–even a completely fake smile–can be beneficial.

Researchers know today that we produce greater quantities of both adrenaline and cortisol when undergoing stress. This “fight or flight” or as I add even faint reaction, increases the heart rate and affects blood flow to ensure the vital organs of the core of the body are receiving their fair share at the expense of the extremities. Therefore, having a lower heart rate means we are not feeling or reacting to the stress nearly as much.

According to the results of this study, smiling would appear to have some sort of calming effect. In fact, blood pressure rates were also noted to be lower in many of the smiling volunteers, but not all. Since the same hormones in the body that affect heart rate also increase blood pressure, it’s interesting that those results were not as consistent. The difference could possibly be due to high blood pressure being a long-term condition that develops over time and is affected by overeating and other poor health habits, whereas a quickened heart rate is generally short term. Then again, in some people the higher blood pressure could have been the result of hardened arteries, which would not have changed no matter how much one smiled.

Earlier research about smiling has produced mixed results. A 2011 study at Michigan State University in East Lansing found that people who had to be polite all day at work and produce fake smiles ended up with overall worse moods than others. Yet, when those same subjects were told to conjure their smiles based on happy thoughts, both their moods and their productivity levels increased.

Most of us have heard that when we smile we release a chemical message deep within our brain known as an Endorphin. Once released these Endorphins travel down our spine sending feel good messages throughout the rest of our body.

These Endorphins are known to be strong enough to reduce symptoms of physical, or emotional pain, as they
envelop us in a nice warm feeling of well being. They are a chemical of approximately the same strength as another pharmaceutical chemical that we all know of known as Morphine.

Endorphins have that wonderful ability to make us feel happy, and whenever we all smile, we release them. So even if you are not happy when you begin to smile, you will be afterwards, and the more often that you smile then the happier you will feel!

I think, since it costs us nothing to smile and I know I feel better when I do then why not smile as often as possible. If the first thing we would do when faced with stressful people or situations was smile we might unnerve them to such a degree that we neutralize the stressful event right in its tracks. This might even turn into a giggle or full on laugh fest.

It’s nice to see that this has been the subject of scientific scrutiny but, If you think about it, there really is no downside to smiling. It’s time to be proud of our laugh lines which I think are far better than frown lines. And besides stress is very dangerous for all of us: to our mental status, physical health, and overall well-being, it even upsets our companion animals, so for their sake, smile!

A smile may not be a ‘cure all’ but it certainly seems to help us get through all that is going on in the world, or even some of the problems in our own life. It would truly be great if we could truly lower or normalize our heart rate and stress level even if just by a tiny bit; it’s certainly a start.

The act of smiling at or with the one you love can keep you both in the most healthful stage of all known as the honeymoon stage of a loving relationship!


I’ll take smiling over taking blood pressure or anti-anxiety medication or developing a stress-induced ailment. It’s worth remembering that smiling is contagious and you have the power to make other people smile, and you can do this by simply passing your smile on to others.

Let’s starting spreading smiles because they might just turn to all out laughter, just like what happened to these folks on a German train before everyone knew it, everyone was laughing!

It all starts with a smile!

Photo’s of Celeste Yarnall and Nazim Artist by Alan Mercer


Miss Rheingold, the beauty contest that taught American’s to vote for style over substance!

The Value of Substance Over Image and Style

This is a photo of the final six Miss Rheingold candidates in the summer of 1963 campaigning to become Miss Rheingold of 1964. That’s me Celeste Yarnall, the third girl from the left.

And a voice on the phone said Celeste Yarnall, you’ve been elected Miss Rheingold 1964!

It was true, one day I was one of the 6 girls in the photo above and lo and behold a few months later back in LA the phone rang and I answered it only to hear that very message!  I became the last elected Miss Rheingold and that was the 25th year of the contest!
Rheingold Beer, founded in 1883, was a New York beer that held 35 percent of the state’s beer market from 1950 to 1960. The company was sold by the founding Liebmann family in 1963 which was the year I got involved in the competition. According to the New York Times way back when, “Rheingold Beer was once a top New York brew guzzled regularly by a loyal cadre of workingmen who would just as soon have eaten nails as drink another beer maker’s suds.” Its VP-Technical Joseph Owades claims credit for Rheingold developing the first light beer.
At the center of its media campaign was the “Miss Rheingold” pageant. Beer drinkers voted each year on the young lady who would be featured as Miss Rheingold in advertisements. In the 1940s and 1950s in New York, “the selection/election of Miss Rheingold was as highly anticipated as the race for the White House.” The first Miss Rheingold was Spanish-born Jinx Falkenburg. The last elected Miss Rheingold was me, Celeste Yarnall in 1964. I received 20,000,000 votes and often made appearances throughout the year at Rheingold’s own Pavillion at the New York Worlds Fair, which was a replica of a 1904 tavern. I was featured on television, radio and point of purchase promotions and traveled extensively making personal appearances nearly every day of my reign as Miss Rheingold 1964.When Nat King Cole became the first major black entertainer to host a television show, advertisers stayed away—but not Rheingold; Rheingold was the New York regional sponsor for Cole’s show. As early as 1965, Rheingold aired television ads featuring African American, Puerto Rican and Asian actors, to appeal to its racially diverse customer base. The company’s headquarters was in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. Rheingold was the official beer of the Mets and the Jets, and I often made appearances as these events and its advertisements featured many celebrities over the years including John Wayne, Douglas Fairbank, Jr., Jackie Robinson, and the Marx Brothers.
These days even though life as the last Miss Rheingold was many years ago,  I am usually game for almost anything exciting that offers an opportunity to be a part of a bit of nostalgia but when a former Miss Rheingold candidate invited me to come to NYC to attend a  Rheingold girl reunion I thought it was a bit too much of a journey to take from LA to NYC just for one evening and the opening soiree at the New York Historical Society, which is currently sponsoring an exhibition called “Beer Here – Brewing New York’s History.” However, it seems my declining this invitation made me somewhat conspicuous by my absence! My friend sent me a wonderful article where my year is mentioned several times but my name was not…oh well out of sight out of mind. You can peruse this homage to Miss Rheingold here:

Point of Purchase Display Image of Celeste Yarnall, Miss Rheingold 1964

The subject matter right now is rather near and dear to my heart as I have written a book proposal on this amazing election/selection which was kind of like the ‘Mad Men’s’ first attempt at American Idol! It nearly backfired on them as they created such a huge contest that Miss Rheingold herself overshadowed the product…a little beer called Rheingold. Who cared about the beer anyway. The Beer was the means to the end and the happy end was being a part of the selection/election process for favorite  girl each year and that was what mattered  each and every year for 25 years as a new star was born for the people to call their own.
Everybody we talk to thinks my writing partners as my Miss Rheingold book proposal is great ..everyone except the publishers..they don’t think anyone remembers or cares about this amazing quarter century of nostalgia that taught people to vote for image and style over substance. How we looked and how we presented ourselves on camera got us elected…sound familiar. Every politician has a stylist, script writer and image maker in tow everywhere they go. I’d say that has social significance but alas the feed back we get from Big Publishing is we don’t have a big enough platform to launch Miss Rheingold from …I bet we can give it legs with your help right here in the blogosphere…if  this resonates with you all could even help me save this bit of Americana ‘her-story” by sharing it far and wide. I can see it now Miss Rheingold goes viral! (LOL) Hey, why not!
My year was very interesting not just because it was the last year of the elected Miss Rheingold’s but because the day I was notified that I garnered 20,000,000 votes and won it all, was the day before John F. Kennedy was shot. This happy new 19 year old Miss Rheingold went from joy to sorrow in 24 little hours as I was kid fresh from that Camelot ‘fantasyland’ and Jackie Kennedy was my idol..I had the dark hair cut in the flip, the white gloves and the pearls! My heart was broken when I flew into New York to have my photo’s done that would announcement my winning the election..hey with those same 20,000,000 votes I could have beaten Nixon, too!
Perhaps getting out my old  scrapbooks from the box with all my Rheingold memorabilia (including the photo above) got me thinking about Jackie Kennedy and  that  special on her that aired last year on ABC. You know the one where they transcribed the tapes of her expressing her feelings. The ones that couldn’t be heard for x number of years. I was mesmerized by them when they were played on that TV show as they revealed a Jackie I almost wish I didn’t have to learn about.  My  Jackie was not only an angel but the fashion icon that taught us all how to put ourselves together. My image  was helped along of course by the chaperone that  Rheingold hired to watch me like a hawk and tell me what to wear for every appearance. Her name was Fran Klein and I really respected her. She was a bit of everything, kind of like a finishing school embodied in one little lady with silver gray hair..or what you might think of today as a stylist who made sure I dressed and conducted myself appropriately as Miss Rheingold.  My fashion statement was critical to my role as the 25th Miss Rheingold and I made it clear to her that it was the Jackie look that I wanted to have and she didn’t mind that at all as fashion was everything in those days!
I found this great quote which sums it all up beautifully,”Fashion is as profound and critical a part of the social life of man as sex, and is made up of the same ambivalent mixture of irresistible urges and inevitable taboos.” ~ Rene Konig. She was a German sociologist (1906 – 1992), and her words, are just as true now as they were when Jackie inspired us to wear those pill box hats.

Our Nation’s first lady was front page news nearly every day. For better or worse, we gobbled up everything we could about her; from the outfits Oleg Cassini designed for her including, her signature jewelry, even the length of her kid gloves. And of course there was that Jackie hair! Her famous bouffant styles were re-created by hairdressers all across the country because we simply had to have Jackie’s look.

Portrait of Celeste Yarnall as Miss Rheingold 1964 by Nazim Artist

I often find myself wondering why some of us feel we need to emulate some famous persons hair and image.’Could it be that we actually need a role model when we are growing up and that  helps us find our way to become our authentic selves?

I must admit that Jackie came a long as a role model for me at just the right time in my life as I was launching my career as a model and actress. This was the time when young women either went to college to look for a husband or got a job as a secretary until the right husband came along. A career in modeling and acting was a pretty revolutionary concept early in 1963. A woman’s role in those days was to be the woman behind the man you married and the mother of his children. Jackie would be that role model for me, as she seemed to me at the time to have mastered the best of both worlds, career and family. I hoped I would be able to that one day, too.

Watching that Jackie TV special dredged up in my gut the yearnings of what and who I aspired to be all those years ago. Jackie, although a wife and mother, seemed to be breaking free from that stereotypical female image. But after watching that special and hearing those audio tapes of her expressing her  true feelings, exposed an entirely different Jackie than the one we thought we knew. Had her ‘image and style’ been one of those creations that got its start on Madison Avenue just like Miss Rheingold?

Photo used in the press kits for Miss Rheingold 1964

I remember one evening at dinner being seated next to Jackie Kennedy’s sister Lee in a swank New York city restaurant. She actually started talking about the Miss Rheingold contest and me, thinking I couldn’t hear her, but I heard every word, she mentioned the she and Jackie thought this one or that one was the prettiest. Can you believe Jackie Kennedy knew who we were?

By 1964, Miss Rheingold had gained so much popularity that the contest was being referred to as an election rather than the more sexist term of beauty contest. The people themselves, wherever Rheingold Beer was sold, voted for their favorite of six final candidates for the new Miss Rheingold each year and had done so for 2 decades. That is how the Miss Rheingold election became America’s second largest election, next only to our own presidential race and amazingly enough, she would be both associated with the beer but also disassociated from it as a celebrity in her own right. I’d often go to a posh Manhattan restaurant with my friend on my evenings off and there would be a crowd of fans and paparazzi just to get a snap of me going in and coming out! You can bet the columnists of the day would share who I dined with in their column the next day!

Why on earth would I want, in 2012, to resurrect this election and write a book in order to share it with people today? The answer is simple, because this is the very election that taught people to vote for ‘looks and style’ over substance, for beauty over brains and talent. It was the first time this ever happened and ever since this beer-and-beauty idea became entwined and this ‘election’ began to work it’s magic over consumers, our political elections changed, too. This is when the real ‘mad men’ learned they could create and control a branded ‘image and style’ and rule our lives with what they put out through all media sources. And today it’s business as usual for them to bring in the stylists, spin doctors, speech writers, and a whole cadre of press agents along with other expensive professionals who groom and package the people we vote for (from the American Idol contestants to the presidential election itself). Remember the Mad Men episodes revolving around JFK’s running for office and ultimately winning the election?

Even though Mad Men gave us a glimpse of how it worked in the 60‘s elections, the precedent was set long before Jackie and Jack made the White House their home. It all really started when the Madison Avenue boys saw what Miss Rheingold‘s election was accomplishing, most likely as early as 1942 or 43.

The Miss Rheingold election was the first time in American history that people voted in an election solely based on ‘style and image’ alone. It started with beer and beauty being packaged together for the purpose of selling a particular brand of beer. They saw that a beautifully photographed, wholesome, pretty female face, smiling into the camera and looking at the viewer, sent a powerful subliminal message to that person, which made them actually buy that brand and even vote for the person smiling.

Miss Rheingold garnered over 20,000,000+ votes my year and several other years, and indeed she created big profits for Rheingold– people liked beauty with their beer! Men and women alike would vote for Miss Rheingold and even their kids would sneak up and stuff the ballot box for their favorite of the six finalists.

After the first decade or so of the election the winners prize money each year kept going up until ultimately she got a contract for her entire year’s ‘reign’ worth over $50,000, plus I got a wardrobe designed by Jackie’s very own couturier Oleg Cassini. Along with my $50K I got  a Manhattan apartment and chauffeur driven limo’s to take me every where I went.  I got to be the ‘first lady’ of beer for 1964 and their were all those beautiful women who came before me.

Miss Rheingold 1964 was the reigning queen of hearts on the Easterm Seaboard. Who even remembered it had something to do with beer?

Can we learn anything from this trip down memory lane?  Are our elections and selections about who people really are or how they are packaged and ‘spun?’

Jackie and Jack Kennedy were certainly given quite a ‘spin’ in the media back in their day. Her radiant smile, ‘image and style’ exposed a brilliant actress who was masking powerful opinions of the people she entertained and was so often entertained by and we  get to hear them all these years later. A perfect image frozen in time until a tape recorder shows us someone other than who we thought she was. Will time reveal others this way to us?

I’m hoping that by meeting Miss Rheingold we can see where it all began and recognize the contemporary significance of her election to right now. Then, the next time we are called to vote for anyone or anything again, we can truly weigh the value of real substance over ‘image and style and truly think for ourselves. Do you think we can do that or have we become just a bundle of belief systems that the news and Madison Avenue have sold us? Can we still think for ourselves even with them ‘selling’ us someone or something 24/7?