L.C. Odell; Created Burma Shave Signs

Associated Press

Leonard C. Odell, who with his brother created the early Burma Shave roadside signs, has died at the age of 83.

Odell, who went on to become president of Burma-Vita Co., died of cancer at his home Friday.

Odell's father, Clinton, had a chemist develop a brushless shaving cream and named it Burma Shave.

Sales were slow, however, until his sons, Leonard and Allan, posted the first sets of signs on rural Minnesota highways in 1925. The standard Burma Shave couplet was written on five sequential signs. A sixth always said "Burma Shave."

An example:

Within this vale

of toil

and sin

Your head grows bald

But not your chin--use

Burma Shave.

The signs were popular fixtures along U.S. highways from the late 1930s until 1964. The company held annual contests for jingle writers.

Leonard Odell was vice president and secretary of the company before becoming its president. In 1963, the company was sold to Phillip Morris Inc. and he retired in 1966.

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