By People Staff
January 31, 1977 12:00 PM

Not since Joe Namath exclaimed “Whoo!” when then-unknown Farrah Fawcett-Majors lathered him with Noxzema has a TV campaign gotten such a response from America’s macho viewers. The new attraction is Susan Anton, a leggy 5’11”, 135-pound blonde who implores, “Let Muriel turn you on / That is my desire.” Eyes, if not cigars, light up coast to coast.

The new Muriel pitchwoman is a former Miss California who was chosen last October from 400 candidates to resurrect the role made famous by Edie (“Pick one up and smoke it sometime”) Adams. “Edie [now 49] still has a tremendous following,” says her 26-year-old successor graciously. “The older cigar smokers are really offended when I turn up.” But Susan feels she is more contemporary: “Edie’s ads took place in a nightclub. Mine takes place in a locker room.”

More like a massage parlor, complained CBS, which has refused to approve two of her commercials for its 8-9 p.m. family hour. One is a come-on to a tennis player, the other involves a business executive. The spots, said the network, were “tasteless.” Muriel answered, in effect, show it all hours or not at all. To date neither commercial has been shown on CBS, though both appear regularly on ABC and NBC.

The daughter of a detective in Yucaipa, Calif. (pop. 17,000), Susan grew up worried about her height and her grades—she wanted to go on to college and become a nursery school teacher. Then she entered a local beauty contest and wound up third in the 1969 Miss America pageant. After that she scuffed around in a succession of Vegas gigs and commercials, including a six-month stint as the Kleenex paper doll.

Signing with Muriel means a possible $1.5 million for Susan over the next four years, says her agent-husband, Jack Stein, who is also scrutinizing TV, club and other deals. Warren Beatty called about a part in his new movie, Heaven Can Wait. Yucaipa seems far away. “I can’t imagine myself teaching nursery school,” Susan admits. “It just wasn’t in my cards.”