Bob Gage was born on May 30, 1921, in Providence, R.I. He studied art and design as a young man while working in a bank. Gage's advertising career began at the Abbott Kimball Company and continued at Grey Advertising under its creative director, Bill Bernbach.
In 1949, when Mr. Bernbach and Ned Doyle teamed up with Maxwell Dane to form Doyle Dane Bernbach, now DDB Worldwide, Gage joined the New York firm as art director. He quickly made a name for himself and won numerous industry awards for print advertising with a bold, inventive use of typography.
"One would probably have to look to Toulouse-Lautrec's posters to find another artist with as wide an influence on the printed advertising message," said Phyllis Robinson, Gage's copywriter partner for many years.
Gage was equally skilled with photography and television, specializing in filming commercials with characteristic quick cuts. He directed well-known characters like Mikey and his brothers for Life cereal, and actors like Jack Gilford, who appeared in Cracker Jack commercials, and Laurence Olivier, in commercials for the Polaroid SX70 camera. Another well-known campaign Gage worked on was for the Polaroid One-Step camera; it featured commercials with James Garner and Mariette Hartley.
"If any single person was responsible for the creative excellence in the early years of advertising, the years after World War II, it was Bob Gage," said Roy Grace, chairman of Grace & Rothschild, an advertising agency in New York.
Gage also hired art directors who themselves became giants in the field: George Lois, Helmut Krone, Bill Taubin and Gene Federico.
In 1972, when the Art Directors Hall of Fame was established, Gage was the first art director in advertising to be inducted. He retired in 1992.