Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day, Honoring the men in the Maybelline family who served in the Armed Forces

This Memorial Day marked the 7th anniversary of my father's death. I honor him and the Heroes in the Maybelline Family.  

This is what Chicago looked like when my grandfather William Preston Williams joined the Navy in 1917.  He was just 18 years old with visions of being a War Hero.  Like so many boy's from the Lost Generation he imagined the war would quickly end and he'd return unscathed by the ravages of battle - only to be greatly disillusioned with a broken spirit.

This is what was going on in the Maybelline Family at the same time.  Tom Lyle introduced Maybelline to the public as Silent Film became popular and Silent Film Stars were seen on screen with heavily made up eyes.

Theda Bara "THE VAMP" - 1917.  This is what was going on in Hollywood when WW1 broke out.  Women began to be conscious of the their eyes and buy Maybelline.  An interesting fact -  Maybelline was sent in an unmarked package insuring the buyer her privacy since Maybelline was so frowned upon at the time.

1917 Maybelline became available through mail order. 

Scene from the Silent Film WINGS.  This is what Preston was heading into.  He was a rear gunner on one of those Flying Sticks in the sky.

My grandfather, Preston Williams, with his parents Susan and TJ.  His mother was grief stricken after already losing her first son, Pearl to TB and the thought of losing another son to War was too much for her.  TJ on the other hand was proud his son was fighting for his Country like so many Patriots that went before him in the Williams Family.  He also thought the Navy might straighten his wild card son up a bit. 

Preston would return from WWl, with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.  Here he is with his little sister Eva on the left, Frances Allen, Tom Lyle Williams Noel James Williams and Bennie Gibbs.

Mabel Williams on the left with her brother Preston, Helen, one of the first Maybelline models, Frances Allen Williams, Bennie Gibbs and Tom Lyle Williams in front of his new "PAGE "Convertible in Chicago. 

Tom Lyle enlisted as well but was denyed service because he was the sole supporter of his entire family according to his draft card in 1917.  Noel was married to Frances and also supported the family managing the Maybelline Company. He might have been too old for service at the time. 

Maybelline Ad during WW11, promoting War Bonds.

My father, William Preston Williams Jr. (Army,) with his buddy, Thurze Terry, (Air Force,) during WW11.

My father, Bill Williams, in the Philippines 

                        Maybelline Ad during WWll.

My Father's first cousin, Noel A. Williams,  joined the Navy right out of High School.

            Noel A. in his Navy uniform during WWll.

My father's first cousin - (on his mother Evelyn Boecher Williams side) - Bill Stroh, on the right.,during WWll.

I have done several posts about Bill Stroh and his 1965 Shelby, gt350 Mustang racing car.

Frank La Petra, Thurze Terry, Bill Williams,
August of 1965.  20 year anniversary, of the end of World War dad, Bill Williams, on the right celebrated with two of his War Buddies.  They all wore their original uniforms and toasted their Service.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

For 100 years, "Maybelline" has been synonymous with "eye cosmetics"-- yet little is known about how a tiny company offering a single product by mail order managed to grow into an international institution.

The Maybelline Story and the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind It,  aims to change that.  It could only be written by someone with insider knowledge. Sharrie Williams is the great-niece of Tom Lyle Williams, the charming and creative, yet remarkably secretive man who founded Maybelline along with his tight knit family, including his brothers and sisters -Noel, Preston, Mabel and Eva - catapulting a little mail order business in 1915 into the most successful and famous eye cosmetic company in the world.   

By digging through family documents, her own memories and the memories of the few remaining people intimately familiar with the founders of Maybelline, Sharrie slipped beneath the public facade of the company to reveal the amazing personalities at its heart. This is an exciting and thoughtful book, part memoir, part history, part family saga, that reveals the triumphs and tragedies behind the beautiful public face of Maybelline.

Chet and Mabel (Willliams) Hewes, and Ches and Eva (Williams) Haines, Hollywood, 1938.

Tom Lyle Williams with Mabel, Chet, Ches and Eva at The Villa Valentino - Hollywood, 1938.

Catalina California 1938 - left to right, My father Bill, great uncle, Tom Lyle, my Grandmother Evelyn and my auntie Eva, auntie Mabel and uncle Chet.

Read more about the founding of The Maybelline Company from 1915 to 1968 and beyond in The Maybelline Story and the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind It.  Buy a signed copy from Sharrie Williams 

Monday, May 18, 2015

New Video: Maybelline 1940's Classic Ads, sprinkled with a few family pictures

Hollywood Super Stars clamored to be featured in Maybelline color advertisements during the 1940s

During World War ll, Maybelline's market share skyrocketed, because so many women worked in air craft plants and refused to cut back on their cosmetics.  When the war ended Tom Lyle's thirty-year-old invention benefited mightily from the Postwar Boom when mascara and eye-shadow came out in matching colors - with new hues added every Spring and Fall - imitating the practice of fashion designers.  The increase in sales were dramatic and though in 1940 only one in four American women wore eye make-up, by 1949 this figure increased to three out of four, with Maybelline accounting for 45,000 units out of 51,000 eye products sold that year.

Merle Oberon Known for her sultry good looks Merle Oberon played Cathy Linton in Wuthering Heights with Laurence Olivier in 1939.  The 1940's proved to be a very busy decade where she appeared in no less than 15 movies. 
Tom Lyle contracted major motion picture stars to appear in Maybelline's advertisements.  War-movies showcased them as the ideal Amercan image and young girls around the world purchased Maybelline at their local dime stores.

                                             Rita Hayworth

 Merle OberonBetty Grable, Joan Crawford  and Hedy Lamarr (click to see) were some of the GI's favorite pin-up girls. They were top box office queens during the war years and their image represented money in the bank for Maybelline.  

Betty Grable

Tom Lyle contracted Betty Grable for her sex appeal, moxy and girl next door image.She appealed to young wannabees who saved their grocery money to buy hope in a little red box.  Maybelline turned simple shop girl's into  sex symbols - inspiring soldier boys to get back home.  In fact a G.I.'s morale was often dependent on pictures of their girls with"Those Maybelline Eyes."

 Tom Lyle spent more on his beautiful movie stars as cover-girls than any other cosmetic company in history and it paid off in the 1940's beyond his wildest dreams.

Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford became the official face of Maybelline in 1945 after she won an Oscar for "Mildred Pierce."  Be sure to watch HBO's new version of "Mildred Pierce" with Kate Winslet airing Sunday March 27th.  This mini-series depicts the era, clothes and background painted in The Maybelline Story.  I'm sure if you watch the series and read the book at the same time you'll see The Maybelline Story come alive.

Hedy Lamarr
Hedy Lamarr was an Austrian-American actress. Though known primarily for her extraordinary beauty and her celebrity in a film career as a major contract star of MGM's "Golden Age.  She had a seductive look in her eye that appealed to Tom Lyle, because she targeted a certain audience of women who sought her sex appeal. 

Maybelline was synonymous with fashion, style and indisputable Hollywood glamor.  Here are a few of Tom Lyle's favorite movie queens of the silver screen during the 1940's. 

Dorothy Lamour starred in the "Road to..." movie series with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in the 1940s and 1950s. The movies were enormously popular during the 1940s, and they regularly placed among the top moneymaking films each year

The Unique Beauty of Gene Tierney - Excerpted from Michael Atkinson's essay, Dec 1994 Movieline magazine.  "Among faces, Gene Tierney's is a tournament rose, an Opaline study in serene, sexualized perfection, a mad musky Egyptian daydream of cat thoughts."

Lana Turner was discovered and signed to a film contract by MGM at the age of sixteen.

                Nothing has changed in 100 years 
                     Girls still want to stand out 

Maybelline in the middle of Times Square, with eyes that stop traffic!

Read it all in The Maybellie Story
 and the Spirited family Dynasty Behind It.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fashionista Celebrates Maybelline's 100 Year Anniversary

100 years of Maybelline Ads show how little has changed in beauty...The products may change, but their goals are pretty much the same.
This year, Maybelline marks a century in the beauty business. To celebrate the milestone, we asked the company to share some of its vintage product pictures, ad images and commercials with us. They were both entertaining and enlightening. What's most surprising here is that while trends and looks superficially change, nothing has really changed fundamentally in beauty. Women still want lush lashes and brows and perfect skin 100 years later, though the way advertisers have marketed those products to women has changed quite a bit, as you'll see below.


Photo: Maybelline
Photo: Maybelline
According to the company, Maybelline got its start with a lash and brow product. In 1915, a young woman named Mabel Williams mixed coal dust with Vaseline and used it to beef up her lashes after singing them off in an accident. Her brother Tom Lyle Williams took the idea and ran with it, producing a product — sans coal — commercially. He called it Lash-Brow-Ine and the product became popular via mail order. He called his new company Maybelline (Mabel + Vaseline) and a brand was born. Apparently women have always wanted Cara Delevingne brows! Also interesting: the company's claim that the products are "pure and harmless." Safe cosmetics, always desirable. 


By the 1930s, "eye lash darkener," as it was called, was officially a thing, and Maybelline sold it in cake form with a separate brush. There was a scare surrounding a lash dye at the time called Lash Lure (not made by Maybelline), which blinded some women, so the company was very careful to say that no dyes were used and that the products were "safe." 
In the '30s, brow pencils and eye shadow also came into vogue. This was also the birth of the makeup tutorial's earliest ancestor. The brand produced ads of Betty Grable demonstrating a three-step application process, which ran in popular magazines. The company also notes that in the '30s, the time of the Great Depression, women couldn't afford a new dress, but they could certainly afford a new eye shadow. Sound familiar? (Ahem, hi, 2008.)


Ad from 1950. Photo: Maybelline
Ad from 1950. Photo: Maybelline
In the 1940s and 1950s, Maybelline introduced iridescent eye shadow sticks and liquid liner.  In 1959, the company launched its first "automatic" mascara (after Helena Rubenstein got one to market first), featuring a spiral brush in the tube, called Magic Mascara. During this era, Maybelline began distributing overseas.

A Maybelline ad from 1960. Photo: Maybelline
A Maybelline ad from 1960. Photo: Maybelline
By this point, and as you can see from the above image, Maybelline was king (queen?) when it came to eye makeup. Then in 1971, the company cemented its hold on women's lashes for good by launching the now-iconic pink and green Great Lash Mascara. In the late '60s, the company was sold to Schering-Plough.


Here, decades before Tinder, Maybelline supports a lady's right to play the field. Photo: Maybelline
Here, decades before Tinder, Maybelline supports a lady's right to play the field. Photo: Maybelline
 In 1974, the company launched its first lip products, which included products like Kissing Sticks, Kissing Koolers, and Kissing Potion. Kissing: very big in the '70s.


Lynda Carter, aka Wonder Women, in a 1984 ad. Photo: Maybelline
Lynda Carter, aka Wonder Women, in a 1984 ad. Photo: Maybelline
The brand started offering a full complement of products, including lipstick and foundation. Lynda Carter featured prominently in many ads during this decade, ushering in the era of the actress as spokesmodel. 


In 1990, Maybelline changed hands again, this time to investment firm Wasserstein Perella and Co. One of the most famous ad slogans of all time was also introduced during this decade: "Maybe she's born with it. Maybe it's Maybelline." (Admit it. You just sang the jingle in your head.) Christy Turlington featured prominently in commercials during the '90s.  L'Oreal acquired the brand in 1996 and still owns it. Over the last 20 years, the brand has signed buzzy models like Jourdan Dunn, Gigi Hadid, Adriana Lima, Freja Beha Erichsen, Jessica White, Charlotte Free and Shu Pei Qin, and sponsored global fashion week 
Cheers, Maybelline. Here's to 100 more years, and please don't discontinue Baby Lips