Erma's true brilliance, however, was the idea of Mary Lee Taylor.
In the 1920s radio was still a fairly new medium, but mass production made radio sets more accessible to a wide range of Americans. It was a popular way for companies to advertise and product placement and corporate-sponsored shows soon became commonplace. Begun in 1933, the Mary Lee Taylor Show first aired on CBS and was one of the longest running cooking shows ever, ending in 1954.
On CBS the show was just 15 minutes long, and featured a weekly recipe from Proetz as well as household tips, all using PET milk.
And for Erma, it was limitless. She died on August 7, 1944 "after a long illness," and although her obituary is quite short, she had been executive vice president of the Gardner Advertising Company at the time of her death. That same year, the St. Louis Fashion Group, of which she had been regional director, announced the establishment of an Erma Proetz Memorial Scholarship at her alma mater - the Washington University School of Fine Arts "in recognition of her great interest in students and the wide help and encouragement she gave many young girls starting out on their careers."
Although Mary Lee Taylor did survive Erma by several years, but she couldn't quite make the transition from radio to the new medium of television. In 1954, Mary Lee Taylor went off the air. Despite that fact, Mary Lee Taylor and Erma Perham Proetz both left a lasting legacy. In 1952, Erma was posthumously inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame - one of only a very few women to ever receive that honor. And Mary Lee Taylor lives on in the remaining radio shows and cookbooklets that people like me love to collect.
Washington University Archives and an online exhibit
6 Copywriting Takeaways From a Real Life Mad Woman
"Advertising Prize Won By D.C. Man," Evening Star, February 23, 1926.
"Advertising Men Open Convention," Evening Star, June 13, 1938.
"Mrs. Erma P. Proetz Dies; Advertising Executive," Evening Star, August 8, 1944.