Gita Hall May, a popular 1950s and 1960s model, has filed a lawsuit against Lionsgate over the company’s Emmy-winning 1960s drama Mad Men. In the complaint, filed today at the Los Angeles Superior Court, May argues that the series’ opening credits use an image of her without her consent. The image in question had been cropped from an 1950s photograph of May taken by well known photographer Richard Avedon for a Revlon hairspray ad.
“The Main Titles were integral to the success of Mad Men,” the complaint says (read it here), claiming that the producers “have generated income in excess of $1 billion through exploitation of the series and its episodes.” The main title for the show is not produced by Mad Men studio Lionsgate but by Imaginary Forces, with Mark Gardner and Steve Fuller credited as directors and Jeremy Cox and Joey Salim as designers. It won the 2008 Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Design.
“(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,” the suit says. Since Mad Men airs on cable, May says she only became aware of the misappropriation last May. In the lawsuit she seeks unspecified damages “suffered as a result of the unauthorized use” of her likeness. Lionsgate had no comment.