Who Inspired Miller High Life's Girl In The Moon Logo?

Say what you will about domestic macrobrews, but there's a good reason why Miller High Life has been the "champagne of beers" since 1903 and counting. It may not be as fancy as its nickname implies, but neither is it particularly pricey, and it's got a taste that keeps people coming back for more, century after century. One of the most endearing, as well as enduring, things about this beer, however, is its mascot, the mysterious "Girl in the Moon."

While an ad campaign that tried to give this Moon Maiden a voice proved to be short-lived, perhaps because, as The New York Times speculates, it may have been a trifle too esoteric even for the early '00s hipsters it was intending to reach, the Girl in the Moon has been a feature of High Life print advertising since its earliest days. Now in her second century, she looks as beautiful as ever, perched on her crescent moon, smiling away as she sips her favorite beer out of a classic pilsner glass. Oh, and by the way, that is NOT a witch hat she's wearing. The way Molson Coors blog Beer and Beyond describes it, her costume is meant to be reminiscent of a circus trainer or a ringmaster, which is why she is accessorized with a golden whip instead of a broomstick. While no one knows for sure which how the Girl in the Moon first came to be, there are several compelling theories as to her origins.

Did the artist's wife model for the Girl in the Moon?

Linda Hoffman, a nurse and metalsmith who makes her home in Milwaukee (home of the Miller Brewing Company), may have High Life in her blood even when she's stone cold sober. It's not that she's a big drinker, but she is a passionate collector of Miller High Life memorabilia, and she has good reason to be. As she told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a 2016 interview, she believes her great-uncle, the artist Thomas Wallace Holmes, was responsible for creating the earliest Miller High Life advertising artwork. While Holmes used his own wife, Hoffman's great-aunt Carrie, as the model for another early Miller ad featuring a Gibson Girl-type perched on a beer crate, Hoffman believes her grandmother, Ruth Strauss, was the one to be immortalized in celestial splendor as the Girl in the Moon.

The Miller Coors company's historians have not actually endorsed Hoffman's hypothesis, but neither have they poured cold beer all over it. (That would be such a waste.) In fact, the Beer and Beyond blog post about the mysterious mood maiden calls her theory "promising."

The Girl in the Moon might have been a member of the Miller family

While Linda Hoffman's speculation may be true, a few other stories are circulating about  Moon Girl's origins. Both AdAge and Beer and Beyond repeat the tale of a Miller marketer who got lost in Wisconsin's Northwoods one night and experienced a vision of a woman on a crescent moon. This story, however, does not preclude Hoffman's grandmother having served as the model for the artist's rendition of the dream girl. There is another a story that the model who posed for the first Moon Girl images, as well as the ones with the original crate-sitter, was Frederick Miller's granddaughter. None of the Miller family have come forth to affirm the story, but they have not denied it either.

Yet another far less compelling theory suggests the Millers may have purchased a painting of a lunar lady and adapted it for advertising purposes back before copyright became too much of an issue. It seems that women perched on moons were quite the art trend in the late 19th century, as witnessed in the popular print called Die Mondfee (the Moon Fairy) by German artist Hermann Kaulbach (via Worthpoint). According to Brockhaus' Konversations-Lexikon (with a little help from Google Translate), the painting on which it was based dates back to 1889. As the fledgling Milwaukee brewing community at that time was largely composed of German immigrants, it's not too unlikely that Miller might have been familiar with this or similar works.

This Wisconsin mom brought the Moon Girl to life

Back in the 1940s, Miller Brewing decided to take local advertising to the next level by making the Girl in the Moon come to life. They were sponsoring several floats in Milwaukee-area parades, and they decided, as numerous others have done before and since, that no float is complete without a pretty girl waving at the crowd (although not going so far as tossing out beer bottles, as that would be both messy and dangerous). While history does not record what happened to the woman first scheduled to play the Moon Girl role, other than that she dropped out at the last minute, her replacement was still alive to tell the tale some 60+ years later.

In 2009, the then 96-year-old Margaret Heath spoke with Racine newspaper The Journal Times about her long-ago Moon Girl gig. It seems she was married to a Miller sales rep, and when he noticed that the mother of his two kids would fit into the costume abandoned by the woman originally scheduled to ride on the company float, he volunteered her to take over the position. Rather than dumping a beer on her hubby's head, Heath agreed to go along with the plan. While after six decades she no longer remembered how many times she played the Girl in the Moon, she did tell The Journal Times, "It was fun being a part of the parades."