TV Ads – 1982 – Kirk Douglas For Sperry Corporation + VISA Credit Card


Sperry Corporation (1910−1986) was a major American equipment and electronics company….whose existence spanned more than seven decades of the 20th century….then through a series of mergers….it exists today as a part of Unisys….while some other of its former divisions became part of Honeywell  and Lockheed Martin.  The company is best known as the developer of the artificial horizon and a wide variety of other gyroscope-based aviation instruments like autopilots, bombsights, analog ballistics computers, like the ones pitched by Kirk Douglas in this TV commercial herewith….and gyro gunsights. In the post-WWII era they branched out into electronics, both aviation related, and later, computers. 

Having Kirk Douglas as your pitchman is like having Spartacus or Vincent van Gogh selling your product…..for Kirk Douglas is an American actor, producer, director, and author….who is one of the last surviving stars of the film industry’s Golden Age.  After an impoverished childhood with immigrant parents and six sisters….he had his film debut in “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” (1946) with Barbara Stanwyck…..as Douglas soon developed into a leading box-office star throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s…. who was known for serious dramas….including westerns and war movies….while during his career, he appeared in more than 90 movies….and was known for his explosive acting style.

Douglas became an international star through positive reception for his leading role as an unscrupulous boxing hero in “Champion” (1949)….which brought him his first nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor…..which were followed by other early films including “Young Man with a Horn” (1950)….when playing opposite Lauren Bacall and Doris Day….“Ace in the Hole” opposite Jan Sterling (1951)….and “Detective Story” (1951).  He received a second Oscar nomination for his dramatic role in “The Bad and the Beautiful” (1952) opposite Lana Turner….and his third nomination for portraying Vincent van Gogh in “Lust for Life” (1956).  In 1955, he established Bryna Productions….which began producing films as varied as “Paths of Glory” (1957) and “Spartacus” (1960)…..when In those two films, he starred and collaborated with the then relatively unknown director, Stanley Kubrick.

Visa Inc. stylized as VISA is an American multinational financial services corporation headquartered in Foster City, California….which facilitates electronic funds transfers throughout the world….while most commonly through Visa-branded credit cards, gift cards, and debit cards.  Visa does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers….but rather, Visa provides financial institutions with Visa-branded payment products that they then use to offer credit, debit, prepaid and cash-access programs to their customers.  In 2015, the Nilson Report, a publication that tracks the credit card industry, found that Visa’s global network (known as VisaNet) processed 100 billion transactions with a total volume of US$6.8 trillion.  Visa has operations across all continents worldwide with the exception of Antarctica….as nearly all Visa transactions worldwide are processed through VisaNet at one of two secure facilities….Operations Center East located somewhere near Ashburn, Virginia….and Operations Center Central located somewhere near Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Both data centers are heavily secured against natural disasters, crime, and terrorism….which can operate independently of each other and from external utilities if necessary…..and can handle up to 30,000 simultaneous transactions and up to 100 billion computations every second. Every transaction is checked past 500 variables including 100 fraud-detection parameters—such as the location and spending habits of the customer and the merchant’s location – before being accepted. 

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