- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 18, 2009

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Find a penny, pick it up. All day long, you’ll have good luck. Or so goes the old saying.

Now, organizers planning a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the nation’s oil industry, which began with Col. Edwin Drake’s successful oil well on Aug. 27, 1859, in northwestern Pennsylvania are hoping for a little luck in finding the women who served as Pennzoil’s “Penny Pennzoil” spokesmodels about 50 years ago.

“With this being the 150th anniversary of the Drake well in August, it would be wonderful if Penny was here,” said Sue Beates, curator of the Drake Well Museum in Titusville, about 85 miles north of Pittsburgh.

Organizers of the anniversary event recently came across photographs of two women dubbed Penny Pennzoil who represented the company at sales meetings when it was based in Oil City, not far from Titusville. The photos are from around 1960.

The photos include the names of men, but the identities of the striking women _ a blonde and a brunette _ are not given.

The brunette Penny Pennzoil _ Nancy DeCelle _ was recently traced to Hallandale, Fla., where she’s been living since the late 1960s.

DeCelle said she was selected from several dozen potential Penny Pennzoils while modeling in Buffalo, N.Y., around 1960, when she was about 24 years old. She’ll turn 72 in April.

She recalled traveling to 38 cities in a span of several months, appearing at regional Pennzoil sales meetings and in advertising campaigns.

“We were exhausted. Trains, planes and cars,” she said. “They would bring me out. The whole meeting was to meet Penny.

“When you look back, it was fun, but at the time, it was exhausting,” she said.

She’d change into eight different outfits throughout the day to represent the various Penny campaigns. She still has one of them _ a gold bathing suit with matching gloves.

“I just put it in the bottom of a drawer and never touched it,” she said.

After working as Penny Pennzoil, DeCelle married and continued modeling. She appeared as an extra in several movies before becoming an interior designer.

She said she plans to attend the anniversary celebration in August, although she has no recollection of other women portraying Penny Pennzoil.

Beates thinks there may be others _ she has photos that appear to show five different Pennys _ but so far has come up empty in efforts to track them down.

Many Pennzoil documents have been destroyed, and other documents appear to have been lost after Pennzoil moved to Houston in the 1970s.

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