Friday, March 18, 2011

Noel James Williams was the Maybelline Company!

People have asked me about Tom Lyle's older brother Noel James Williams - not sure of how he fit in with the founding of the Maybelline Company.



Noel was the second son born to TJ and Susan Williams and he like the rest of the Williams kids had plans of his own that didn't include working a farm.  He fell in love with his childhood sweetheart Frances Allen and planned to earn the money to marry her while she was in her first year of college.  There was no way to earn money in Morganfield Kentucky so he moved to Chicago where he found employment with the railroads as a bookkeeper.

You'll have to read The Maybelline Story for the whole story but in a nutshell his younger brother Tom Lyle also joined him in Chicago, followed by sister Mabel and the three of them helped build Tom Lyle's budding mail order business.   If you've been following my blog you have an idea of the magnitude this major event meant to the Williams family and eventually the world.  However when Tom Lyle needed the money to launch Maybelline, he turned to his brother Noel who had saved $500 to marry Frances.  The rest is history, but to honor Noel for believing him him Tom Lyle made his older brother Vice President of the Maybelline Company, a position he held for the rest of his life. 



Tom Lyle paid  the $500 back one year later and on Nov 8th 1916 Noel and Frances were married.  Here is a picture of Noel and Frances soon after the wedding standing in front of Tom Lyle's convertible Page in Chicago's heavy snow. 

Noel and Frances moved into an apartment down the street from the Maybelline warehouse while the rest of the Williams family lived together in the apartment above it.  Noel and Tom Lyle were the driving force behind the little budding cosmetic company and together they made an unbeatable team.



 Here is the whole Williams Clan in Chicago after Noel and Frances first baby, Helen Frances was born May 31, 1918. 

Right to Left we see Proud Papa Noel looking at Frances in awe with his father TJ behind, holding baby Helen.  Next in the picture is Mabel, Preston in a Navel uniform,  Susan (their mother,) with her arm around Eva.  (not sure who the girl with the long curls is.) 


By 1935 Noel and Frances had four children.   In this picture we see left to right, Annette, Helen, Noel, Dick, Frances and Noel Allen.  Family came first for Noel Williams followed by Maybelline, in fact it was hard to separate the two because Maybelline was  family and family was  Maybelline.   Noel represented stability, responsibility and propriety to the the highest level.  With him at the helm of Maybelline's ship Tom Lyle concentrated on what he did best Advertising and since he spent most of his time at the Villa Valentino in the Hollywood Hills, he depended on Noel's ability to run a tight ship at the Maybelline Company in Chicago.



After 30 years living in a brownstone not far from the Maybelline Company in Chicago, Noel and his family moved to the suburbs into a large custom home fit for an executive.  He was 55 years old and the little company he believed in and supported with his wedding money proved to be one of America's biggest success stories - and still is today after almost 100 years.  In this picture left to right, we see Ches Haines, Eva's husband head of transportation for the company, (not sure who second man is,) than Noel's youngest son Dick, his son Noel Allen, Noel, and Rags Ragland the marketing genius Tom Lyle hired in 1933 and the only person outside the family to work for the Maybelline company.



Noel and Frances' son Noel Allen's wedding Feb 12, 1949. Left to right, mother of the bride Alberta Kilroy, Noel and Frances, Father of the bride, Charles Thomas Kilroy, Jean (Kilroy) Williams, Noel Allen and Jean's girlfriends as maid of honor and bridesmaids. On November 23, 1949, Charles Allen Williams, (Chuck,) was born while Noel Allen and Jean were living in one of the apartments in the  Maybelline building.

This picture of Noel outside the Maybelline Building at 900 Ridge and Clark in Chicago shows a man meticulous in every way.  He's such a stunning example of the quintessential executive with his overcoat, hat and briefcase under his are, that the man walking down the street had to do a double take.  Noel never took a day off from work in the 36 years he ran the Maybelline Company. It was only after a heart attack shortly after his sons wedding, that Tom Lyle insisted he take time off and visit him at his new estate in Bel Air California.  




Here is one of the last pictures of Noel and Frances - at Tom Lyle's ultra modern stone and glass estate in Bel Air -before Noels death the following year in 1951.

Tom Lyle Williams with his older brother Noel, founded the Maybelline Company, and at Noel's death it was said the Noel was the Maybelline Company.  We sure know that without him there certainly wouldn't have been a Maybelline Company. 

Tom Lyle had a great idea, given to him by his sister Mabel, but without the capitol to launch it, and the devotion to run it, Maybelline might have remained just a good Idea.

Read more about Noel and the building of an empire in The Maybelline Story and the Spirited Family Behind It.

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