The very first World Smile Day took place in Worcester, MA on October 1, 1999. What a celebration it was! State and local dignitaries gathered and read proclamations in support of the day. Another proclamation recognizing the day was read on the floor of the United States Congress and is now part of the Congressional Record, the reporter of the official proceedings of the US Congress. Thousands of Worcester school children created World Smile Day® cards that were then delivered to area hospitals and nursing homes. The event became national and even international news.
Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation
The Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation was established in 2001 to honor the name and memory of Harvey Ball, the artist who in 1963 created that international symbol of goodwill, the smiley face.
Harvey Ball believed that each one of us has the ability to make a positive difference in this world and he lived according to that belief. He knew that any effort to improve the world, no matter how small, was worthwhile. And he understood the power of a smile and a kind act.
In furtherance of that philosophy the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation focuses on small, grass-roots charitable efforts that otherwise receive little attention or funding.
The authorship of the smiley face is hotly disputed.
Franklin Loufrani - just one of a number of people who profess to have invented the image - has marketed the sign since the early 1970s. He and his London-based company SmileyWorld today own the rights to the logo in more than 80 countries around the world.
The US is not included in this list, and SmileyWorld and Wal-Mart are now at loggerheads before the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Until now the smiley face had been considered in the public domain in the US, and therefore free for anyone to use.
Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley told the Los Angeles Times that it had not moved to register the trademark until Mr Loufrani had threatened to do so.
"It is kind of ironic that this whole dispute is about a smiley face," said Mr Simley.
"But in the end, it is what it is: it's a mark that we have a tremendous investment in and is very closely identified with our company."
While Mr Loufrani says he came up with the image in 1968, American Harvey Ball contends that he first designed the logo in 1963.
Mr Ball, a Massachusetts graphic artist, claims he devised the cartoon to cheer up disgruntled staff at a newly merged insurance firm.
Another American, Seattle-based advertiser David Stern, also claims to have invented the image.
Mr Sterns says he devised the sign in 1967 as part of an advertisement campaign for financial services firm Washington Mutual.
Both Mr Ball and Mr Stern further say that they did not think of trademarking the image at the time.
Since the 1970s, the smiley face has been adopted by a number of different groups.
It appears on number plates in the US state of Kentucky, has featured on an American postage stamp and was the unofficial symbol of the late 1980s acid house dance music movement.
The image was also spoofed in the 1994 movie Forest Gump, in which the title character inadvertently comes up with the logo by rubbing his wet and dirty face on a white T-shirt.
Wal-Mart seeks smiley face rights
Wal-Mart uses the smiley face on staff uniforms and promotional signs.
Wal-Mart is embroiled in a legal dispute over the smiley face image which it wants to trademark in the US.
A Frenchman who claims to have invented the yellow smiley face back in 1968 is opposing the US retail giant's move.
For some, the image is a reminder of 1970s counter-culture, for others, a useful shorthand when sending e-mails.
But since 1996, Wal-Mart has used the image in the US on uniforms and promotional signs, and it wants sole rights to it in the US retail sector.
The Smiley Stamp
The U.S. Postal Service unveiled the first smiley face postage stamp in Worcester on WSD (World Smile Day) 1999. World Smile Day was started in 1999 by Harvey Ball. The WSD (World Smile Day) committee includes members from the Worcester Historical Museum, the City of Worcester, the Office of Congressman Jim McGovern and the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation.
Movies and television
The film Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994) comically featured the smiley being "invented" when the main character wipes his mud-covered face off with a yellow t-shirt, and says "Have a nice day", inspiring a struggling businessman with the makeshift design. This scene is not in the original book.
The film Fight Club (David Fincher, 1999) has a brief "smiley bombing" scene on the side of an office building. A similar face previously appeared in the Fight Club novel.
In Timescape, an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Jean-Luc Picard drew a smiley face in the cloud created by a warp core breach in progress that was frozen in time and laughed hysterically for a moment before becoming extremely panicked, all as a result of "temporal narcosis".
In the 1995 film Virtuosity a smiley is used to mark a restaurant where the virtual serial killer "Sid 6.7" was hiding.
In the 2001 film Evolution a three eyed Smiley is used as a symbol for aliens.
A smiley can be vaguely seen on the bloodstained medical gurney in the crash scene of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
In Lost, one character landed on the island in a balloon with a smiley face on it.
WWE wrestler Mick Foley's most common logo is a smiley with his trademark Mankind mask over it. Also in his Mankind persona his catchphrase was "Have a nice day!", used ironically as a sinister heel and more literally as a comic face.