Thursday, October 29, 2015

Pearl White - a box office sensation in 1914 the year before Maybelline was born

The Perils of Pauline was an enormous box-office success, and made Pearl White a major celebrity;  she was soon earning in those times the astronomical sum of $3,000 a week.

Released in 1914, The Perils of Pauline consisted of twenty episodes that used the heroine-in-jeopardy story line to great success.  It is considered by some to be the most famous suspense serial in cinema history.

In the serials, week after week, Pauline evaded attempts on her life.  She fought pirates, Indians, gypsies, rats, sharks, and her dastardly guardian. 

The unresolved, heroine-in-danger endings left audiences wondering what would happen in the next chapter, and kept them coming back for more.  In the series, White performed many of her own stunts, and became known as the “stunt queen” of the silent film era

She was a daring, athletic, and active star, often placed in risky situations — sent aloft in a runaway balloon, trapped in a burning house, or left hanging from the side of a cliff - thus she was credited with generating the new phrase “cliffhanger.”)

At the same time, a little family living on a modest farm in Morganfield Kentucky,  watched The Perils of Pauline, at the Nickelodeon and had no idea how Hollywood film Stars, like Pearl White, would one day impact their lives. 

Mabel Williams, on the top left, with her mother Anna, seated, her sister Eva Kaye, on the ground, and two elderly aunts, pose for a picture in 1914, on the old
Homestead in Kentucky

For the rest of her life, Mabel, couldn't help but cry every time she listened to  "My Old Kentucky Home."

While The Peril's of Pauline,  remained a box office smash in 1914, and My Old Kentucky Home, continued

 to bring tears, to Southern men and women's eyes - a young boy, named Tom Lyle Williams moved into a boarding house in Chicago with his brother Noel James, and worked for $8.50 a week at Montgomery Ward.  On the side, he sold joke gifts and risque postcards through the classifieds and dreamed of someday having his own mail order business. 

His sister Mabel arrived in Chicago, in 1915, to help with the little catalog business and while there, concocted a mixture of coal dust and Vaseline, to enhance the color of her lashes and brows and help make them grow.  Soon, Lash-Brow-Ine, was born and a year later, it was  renamed Maybelline in Mabel Williams honor.

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