Robert J. Demarest: American Heart Association Television Campaign




Editor's Note

As a tribute to Bob, we proudly republish his 1989 AMI News article about his experiences with producing a made-for-television public service announcement. To view this vintage commercial, see the video link on the Table of Contents or find it at the end of this article.


Gary Schnitz, JBC Board Chair and Co-editor



American Heart Association Recruits Bob Demarest
to Create an On-camera Illustration of a Heart

Bob Demarest was the action and Jason Robards was the voice in a public service announcement for the American Heart Association's television promotion for the winter and spring, 1989-1990.


"It was an incredible experience, and not at all what I expected," says Bob. "I thought I would be painting a heart on television and all my friends would see it and say, "Hey, there's Bob." Bob continues, "No such luck. All that shows are my hands. I had my first ever manicure for the production and spent a week painting six versions of the same heart." The numerous versions enabled the camera to transition from one to the other, right up to the finished piece, making it look like I was working on the same illustration. That way all of the shooting could be finished only in two days.


Controlled chaos is the only way to describe the scene with cameramen, production assistants, lighting people, script assistants, clients, executives, and me. There were probably 20 people in all, and I was walking around in a brand new shirt (supplied by the producer) that was much too big… I think it was his size, not mine. I waited forever between the shots. Each scene was shot from three to six (or maybe seven) times. Everything was photographed with a macro lens on 35 mm motion picture film. We even used Tanqueray® Gin instead of water to achieve a crystal clear effect when I would dip a watercolor brush. Two quarts of Tanqueray® were poured down the sink for one shot alone.


The 25-second commercial is a story of an illustrator painting a heart, which then segues into the "Book of Life" with a final reminder that "Your Life Is In Your Hands." All the while Jason Robards is talking in his inimitable, serious voice about the uniqueness of "your" heart.


The public service announcement will be shown on the major networks and the local affiliates over the next few months. Be sure to look for it. "You'll recognize a Paasche AB and maybe the style of art," Bob says, "but you'll never recognize my manicured hands."




Below are still images taken from the 1989 American Heart Association video.



The JBC Editors have chosen to license this content under a Creative Commons Attribution, NonCommercial, NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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