Advertising icon dies at age 102

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Advertising icon dies at age 102

Milton Sutton, a creator of iconic advertisements and a resident of Roslyn for 53 years, died last month at age 102.

He is perhaps best known for helping produce the 1971 “Crying Indian” television commercial, which was commissioned by Keep America Beautiful, a community improvement organization led by Lady Bird Johnson, the first lady.

“People start pollution; people can stop it,” the narrator of the advertisement said. 

Sutton was born on Sept. 20, 1914, in Brooklyn. He  graduated from New York University in 1935 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and journalism, said his daughter Jane Sutton, of Lexington, Mass.

After graduating from college, Milton Sutton served in World War II from 1943 to 1945 in the information and education division of the Pentagon. 

“He worked with a pretty creative group of people on the  magazine Stars and Stripes,” said Judy Storeygard, of Winchester, Mass., another daughter. 

“He formed a lot of extremely close friendships.” 

After the war, he worked as the president and creative director of a small advertising firm called Zlowe Company, Jane Sutton said. 

He later served as vice president of Burson-Marsteller, a larger advertising firm, from 1969 to 1985. He then worked for the remainder of his career as freelance communications consultant, Jane Sutton said. 

It was while at Burson-Marsteller that Milton Sutton took on the Keep America Beautiful account and produced the memorable “Crying Indian” commercial.

Other accounts included Dannon Yogurt, for which Sutton created the slogan, “No Artificial Anything.”

“His advertisements were known to the family growing up,” Storeygard said.

“The Dannon yogurt one was on the radio and everything.” 

Along with his wife, Freema Sutton, and his two young daughters, Milton Sutton moved to Roslyn in 1952, Jane Sutton said. 

Over the ensuing 53 years spent living in Roslyn, Milton Sutton frequently visited the public library, Jane Sutton said. 

He also became active in a local chapter of the human rights organization Amnesty International, writing letters on behalf of prisoners of conscience.

“I remember as a kid seeing envelopes addressed to exotic places,” Jane Sutton said. 

In his latter years, Milton Sutton supported the advocacy group Tourette Syndrome Association, after one of his grandchildren was diagnosed with the disease. 

“That was his way of helping out,” Storeygard said.

In 2005, Sutton moved to Cadbury Commons, an assisted living facility in Cambridge, Mass., near the homes of his two daughters. 

He was an active member of the Cadbury Commons community, participating in drama and poetry groups, Jane Sutton said.

Just three days before the massive stroke that would take his life, Milton Sutton participated in a Zumba dance class. 

“The teacher was inspired by him,” Jane Sutton said. “The teacher said that he just made her want to go to work.”

He is survived by his two daughters, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. 

BY MAX ZAHN

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