Ex-Model, 79, Sues Over Appearance in 'Mad Men' Title Sequence

Mad Men Intro - H 2013

Gita Hall May, who had a career as a fashion model and actress in the 1950s and 1960s, filed a lawsuit Friday in L.A. Superior Court against Lionsgate Entertainment charging that her image from a Richard Avedon photograph shot more than half a century ago is being used in the TV series Mad Men improperly and without her consent.

Known simply as Gita Hall in her heyday, she was a model in the photo used in a Revlon ad in the early 1960s. She says that she only gave permission for its use for that purpose and did not agree “to allow, forty years later, her image to be cropped from the photo, in secret, and inserted as a key element in the title sequence of a cable television series, without her consent and for commercial purposes.”

The suit says the image is the centerpiece of the show’s opening, which even won an Emmy in 2008 for outstanding main title design.

Now 79 years of age, the former model is demanding that she be compensated for “the value her image contributed to their property or the revenues that her image contributed to their profit.”

The suit estimates Mad Men has earned over $1 billion to date, and insists that the use of this “iconic female beauty of the age” which “evokes recollections of this now distant time” is valuable because it “perfectly personifies the period.”

Although the show has been on since 2007, the suit says Hall only learned that her face and image were part of the show’s opening sequence in 2012, when it became available on home video. Before that, it was only seen on cable TV, which she apparently did not have. 

Lionsgate could not be reached for comment.