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Mr. Clean Artist Dies: Harry Black Created P&G Icon 60 Years Ago

By Alexandra Ward   |  

The commercial artist who brought Mr. Clean, the face of Proctor & Gamble's magical cleaning product, to life nearly 60 years ago has died. Harry Richard Black was 92.

Black died Sunday at his home in Kettering, Ohio, after a brief illness, a pastor at his church confirmed to The New York Times.

He is survived by three sons — Richard, Christopher, and Timothy — and seven grandchildren, and was predeceased by his wife, Virginia.

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"We need more artists and nice guys, he was both of them," Dick Hook, Black’s longtime friend and fellow church member, told The Dayton Daily News. "He was a tremendous artist and first class all-around guy."

Though his professional résumé included work for Shell Oil, Frigidaire, and the U.S. Forest Service's Smokey the Bear campaign, Black was best known for creating Mr. Clean in 1956, two years before Proctor & Gamble released its line of detergent-based household cleaners.

Black's illustration of Mr. Clean as a bald-headed man with an earring is still used in marketing materials to this day.



A talented artist, Black was also well known for his teaching. He started out at the University of Dayton in 1967 before taking up a post at Sinclair Community College in 1975.

"Art was his love, but I would say that teaching was his passion," Anne Holaday, coordinator of Sinclair’s lifelong learning program, told The Daily. "He was such a powerful and engaging instructor. Class wasn’t a class. He and his students were more like a family. He was a part of their lives and they were a part of his life."

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The commercial artist who brought Mr. Clean, the face of Proctor & Gamble's magical cleaning product, to life nearly 60 years ago has died. Harry Richard Black was 92.
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