The 79-year-old is suing Lionsgate for using her face in the title sequence. The complaint filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court claims producers used the model’s image without her consent.
The image in question is above. Deadline.com notes, it’s “cropped from a 1950s photograph of May taken by well-known photographer Richard Avedon for a Revlon hairspray ad” and May only gave permission for it to be used in that ad. She did not intend that “forty years later, her image to be cropped from the photo, in secret, and inserted as a key element in the title sequence of a cable television series, without her consent and for commercial purposes.”
Deadline adds, “The main title for the show is not produced by Mad Men studio Lionsgate but by Imaginary Forces, with Mark Gardner and Steve Fuller credited as directors and Jeremy Cox and Joey Salim as designers. It won the 2008 Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Design.”
The complaint to which Lionsgate has yet to respond says, in part, “The Main Titles were integral to the success of Mad Men. [Producers] have generated income in excess of $1 billion through exploitation of the series and its episodes. [May’s] likeness appears more prominently and directly than any other image in that sequence, and in the Pilot directly opposite the credit for the program’s producer.”
Since Mad Men airs on cable, May claims to have only learned about the image May 2012 (the show is approaching its sixth season). She wants unspecified damages for “the value her image contributed to their property or the revenues that her image contributed to their profit” and claims she “suffered as a result of the unauthorized use” of her likeness that was used to give the show credibility.