An American Icon

An American Icon

October, 2006 - February, 2007 | Booth Gallery

Do you know who created the yellow Smiley Face? No, it wasn’t Forrest Gump.

The exhibit, An American Icon, explored the origins of the iconic yellow Smile Face and its progression in American pop culture.

In 1963, Worcester Mutual Fire Insurance Company, a subsidiary of State Mutual Life Assurance Company of America, purchased Guarantee Mutual Company of Ohio. To counteract low employee morale caused by corporate reorganization, the company launched a “friendship campaign.” Joy Young, assistant director of sales and marketing, contacted Harvey Ball, a local freelance commercial artist, and asked him to create a little smile that could be used on buttons, desk cards, and posters. Ball drew a smile. Not satisfied with the result, he added two eyes, creating a smiley face.

Soon Harvey Ball’s Smiley became more famous than the Mona Lisa. A true American icon was born…right here in Worcester.

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