A photo of a 24-year-old Raquel Welch taken by Peter Gowland for the Ridgid Tool Company Calendar in 1964.
The man who shot the bikini models featured in the Ridgid Tool Company Calendar, Peter Gowland, was referred to as “America’s No. 1 Pin-up Photographer” by the New York Times in 1954. That same year Gowland was one of the first to shoot photos of a then 21-year-old Jayne Mansfield shortly after the blonde bombshell arrived in Hollywood. He published his first of more than 35 books, How to Photograph Women—a subject that Gowland mastered during his long career—that same year. That’s not to say that Gowland’s talent was limited to being behind the lens, he also built cameras himself (21 varieties to be precise) which led to the development of a twin-lens camera he called the Gowlandflex. The Gowlandflex attracted clients from the FBI to famed celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz.
In addition to images shot by Gowland which made their way to over 1000 different magazine covers, he was also the principal photographer for the famous Ridgid Tool Company Calendar for 40 years. During the calendars 81-year history it regularly featured racy pinup illustrations, most if not all drawn by artist George Petty (who came to prominence along with pinup king Alberto Vargas) before Gowland’s in-the-flesh bikini girls took over as eye candy for Ridgid’s annual calendar—including a 24-year-old Raquel Welch in 1964 pictured at the top of this post. The tradition would endure until just last year when Ridgid officially stopped using girls in bathing suits posing alongside wrenches and motor oil in their calendars. BOO!
Gowland and Petty’s contributions to Ridgid’s girlie tool calendar tradition are worth celebrating. Both men were remarkably talented and experts in their field of work which helped create a unique vibe for the promotional vehicle—as you will see while looking through the large selection of images from both artists taken from the Ridgid calendar as it appeared during the 50s, 60s, and 70s. In case you’re wondering, girls + bikinis = possibly NSFW.
A pinup illustration by George Petty for the Ridgid Tool Company Calendar, April 1952.
A photo of Miss Ridgid Tools 1977, Kathy McCullen.