Gita Hall May, a former model from the 1950s and 1960s, has filed a lawsuit against Lionsgate Entertainment for the use of her image in the opening credits of “Mad Men.”
The 79-year-old woman said she had no idea her image was used on one of the buildings in the popular AMC show’s opening sequence until May 2012, when the show had already been running for about five years. May who has appeared in films like “The Gun Runners” and “Wolf Larsen,” said she was never contacted by Lionsgate for permission to use her image in the intro, which you can view below.
"I wished they had had the courtesy to get in touch with me," she told ABC. "I was surprised because nobody had checked with me about it -- they must have thought I was dead.”
According to Deadline.com, May filed a complaint at the Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday, claiming the credits used an image of her taken by photographer Richard Avedon for a 1950s Revlon hairspray ad.
"Given her stature, [May] consented to the use of her likeness, and the Avedon photo embodying it, only for the then-current run of the Revlon campaign," the complaint read. "At no time did she agree to allow, 40 years later, her image to be cropped from the photo, in secret, and inserted as a key element in the title sequence of a cable television series, without her consent and for commercial purposes."
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The suit said May’s image was “integral to the success of ‘Mad Men’.” It helped to "evoke recollections of this now distant time” and has “generated income in excess of $1 billion through exploitation of the series and its episodes,” the complaint said. The lawsuit added that May’s “likeness appears more prominently and directly than any other image in that sequence, and in the pilot directly opposite the credit for the program’s producer.”
May’s lawyer, Kevin Leichter, told ABC that had it been reversed, Lionsgate wouldn’t surrender.
"If two minutes of 'Mad Men' had been taken for commercial purposes, Lionsgate would be throwing thermonuclear bombs," he said.
“Mad Men” won an Emmy in 2008 for outstanding title design for the opening credits.