Feb 3, 2009, 1:18 PM |

My dear friend, the ever kind and gentle Bishop Berkeley sent me some facinating stuff involving hammers, iPods and apples ; music videos, East German border guards, women with men's names and Chess, of course - spanning a quarter of a century.

I'll use the good Bishop's own words as much as possible . . .


At some point you've probably seen it.  It has been called the most famous television commercial in history by many, and the greatest television commercial of all time by many others.
Yet it aired nationally only ONCE: during the 1984 Super Bowl (Super Bowl XVIII). [Actually, that seems to be a myth perpetuated by Apple - see myth -batgirl]

Directed by Sir Ridley Scott (who directed such films as "Bladerunner," "Alien," and "Thelma & Louise"), the commercial featured the radiant actress and athlete Anya Major -- an experienced discus thrower, Ms. Major was the only actress that could be found who had the physical grace and strength to run with and throw the heavy brass-headed hammer that is featured as the icon of resistance in the commercial.

Of course, the commercial (titled "1984") introduced the Apple Macintosh to the world: the first robust personal computer of the kind we use today.
HERE is the commercial as it was shown in 1984.     
 But what you may NOT have seen -- and what is well worth viewing -- is the introduction of this commercial to the Apple faithful!  Before the commercial was ever aired publicly, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the commercial at the Apple Keynote Conference of that year (in fall of 1983).  Here, he sets the context -- IBM is the "Big Brother" of Orwell's 1984, and Apple is the defiant athlete with her liberating hammer.

 Listen to the audience response to this remarkable piece of commercial art!   
 This is just a great moment in the history of technological innovation!  Quite inspiring. I'm glad that somebody captured it and shared it with us.

 It's also great to see Steve Jobs at this time in his life.  Let's hope he may recover from his present health struggles with great success.

 More about the "1984" commercial HERE.   
In 2004, the 20th anniversary year of the commercial and the Macintosh, some clever folks at Apple (with help from their friends at Pixar?) used their animation skills to retrofit the hammer-wielding Anya Major with an iPod!  You can see that version HERE.  Note that you can see the iPod on her belt most easily when she's swinging the hammer, along with iPod's signature earplugs.  They did a great job, don't you think?

Anya Majors, retrofitted with an iPod


You may well be able to identify the person on the right in the photo -- it is the pop singer Sir Elton John.

The person on the left may be harder to identify, but she is quite an icon in her own way.  She is Anya Major, a woman who was the key actress (and athlete) in what may be the most famous television commercial in history: the commercial that introduced the Apple Macintosh computer to the world in 1984 -- during the Super Bowl.

Apparently, apart from that commercial (which aired nationally only once) and the "Nikita" music video in which the Chess photo appears, very little is known of her.

There was a widely-circulated rumor years ago that she had died of cancer, but (happily) this is now generally believed to be false (based on multiple reports of her other activities).  My best guess is that she simply chose to shun the spotlight thereafter and live a quiet life (which is probably a happier life, for many people).  Not everyone loves the idea of fame!
[she is living in England with her husband, Kim Rajah, and their three children. -batgirl]

One note about one of the supporting photos attached: the photo which shows Ms. Major sporting earphones and an iPod (at her waist) is from the 2004 remake of the 1984 commercial -- the iPod was spliced into the original commercial by some very talented animators.

I hope things are well with you, Sarah Beth!  Should you wish to, please feel free to use the attached photos or any portions of this message (or the message below) if you feel that anyone might find the Chess photo interesting.


                               I feel sure someone will, your Excellency. 

Anya Major as Nikita the border guard

[my words] According to Wiki, Anya Major was cast in the title role in Elton John's 1985 music video, Nikita.  In the song, Nikita was an East German border guard with whom the singer falls in love but is pevented from meeting.  Nikita, wikipedia assures us, is a man's name in Russia - a purposeful ambivalence on Elton John's part - but the director took it to be a woman's name and cast Ms. Major in the role.

"1984" Remake Video Sequence 

I'm not sure if this is more reminiscent of the biblical David and Goliath or the Norse sagas of Thor.  Either way,  it works

Apple Announcement

"Big Brother" (IBM) on screen

Anya (Apple) entering hall

Anya (Apple) swinging sledge hammer

Anya (Apple) releasing her sledge hammer

Hammer soaring through the air

Hammer approaching the screen image of "Big Brother"

Screen exploding!

The, now freed, enthalled minions gasp in shock

APPLE logo