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A smiley, or happy face (☺/☻), is a stylized representation of a smiling human face, commonly represented as a yellow (many other colors are also used) circle (or sphere) with two dots representing eyes and a half circle representing the mouth. “Smiley” is also sometimes used as a generic term for any emoticon. The variant spelling "smilie" is not as common, but the plural form "smilies" (the plural of "smily", not "smiley") is commonly used. Harvey Ball claimed that he designed first the Smiley in 1963 while working at State Mutual Life Assurance Company as a freelance artist. His design of the Smiley came about in 1963. The State Mutual Life Assurance Company of Worcester, Massachusetts (now known as Hanover Insurance) purchased Guarantee Mutual Company of Ohio. The merger resulted in low employee morale. In an attempt to solve this, Harvey Ball was employed in 1963 as a freelance artist to create a smiley face to be used on buttons, desk cards, and posters. In less than ten minutes the smiley face was complete. The use of the smiley face was part of the company's friendship campaign whereby State Mutual handed out 100 smiley pins to employees. The aim was to get employees to smile while using the phone and doing other tasks. The buttons were highly popular, with orders in lots of 10,000. More than 50 million Smiley Face buttons were sold by 1971, and the smiley has been described as an international icon. Ball never applied for a trademark or copyright of the smiley and earned just $45 for his work. State Mutual, similarly, did not make any money from the design. Ball's son, Charles Ball is reported to have said his father never regretted not registering the copyright. Telegram & Gazette reported Charles Ball as saying "he was not a money-driven guy, he used to say, 'Hey, I can only eat one steak at a time, drive one car at a time'". The associated "Have a Nice Day" tag, was not part of the original design. Brothers Bernard and Murray Spain later trademarked the line combined with a smiley face in the early 1970s.
In the movie Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks' character of the same name is splattered with mud by a passing truck when running across America. A tee-shirt designer, who is struggling to think of a new design, hands him a tee-shirt to wipe off the mud. The imprint left in the mud stain is a smiley face; As Forrest runs off, he tells the man "Have a nice day" and the designer realizes this is the design he has been looking for.
Many smileys appear in the film Repo Man, as well as posters for "Harry Pace for City Council" ("Happy Face").
A bloodstained Smiley badge is featured as the most prominent motif and recurring piece of imagery in Alan Moore's 1986 comic series Watchmen, as well as its 2009 film adaptation. The badge belongs to a murdered "Adventurer" (Hero) known as The Comedian and prominently features a line of red blood crossing over the Smiley's left eye mimicking the position a clock face set at five minutes to midnight (another motif of the Comics). In later reissues and reprints of the comic series, the Bloodstained Smiley Badge, particularly the left eye, became a symbol for the series as a whole and serves as the cover art to the paperback graphic novel.
Evolution is a 2001 comedy sci-fi movie directed by Ivan Reitman. The movie uses a 'three-eyed' smiley to show the evolution of the standard smiley. The three-eyed smiley face used as the logo of the film in marketing was borrowed from the comic book Transmetropolitan. Producers had to get permission from DC Comics to use it and were licensed by Smileyworld Ltd., owner of the smiley face trademark, to use it for advertising and commercial purposes.
Rockstar Games has used Smiley faces often for ironic purposes. In Grand Theft Auto 2, a gang known as "The Loonies" has a Smiley face as their icon. In the game Manhunt, a gang of psychotics known as "The Smileys" wear smiley face masks, some often covered in blood, or with pieces broken off.
In the series The Mentalist, the antagonist Red John uses the smiley face as his signature, which he creates using the victim's blood and makes the circle with three fingers clockwise with a rubber kitchen glove. Because it is made from blood, the dripping makes it look as if it is crying.