Monday, August 15, 2016

Maybelline's King of Advertising, Tom Lyle Williams and his Film Queens

                   King of Advertising, Tom Lyle Williams


The man who would become a cosmetics giant, Tom Lyle Williams, was aprivate figure who hid from the public because when he launched the Maybelline Co., mascara was deemed the “province of whores and homosexuals.” To protect his family from scandal, and to stay out of view from the scrutiny of the press, Tom Lyle ran his empire from a distance, cloistered behind the gates of his Hollywood Hills Rudolph Valentino Villa.  He contracted movie stars to represent him in all forms of media.  From the earliest days of silent film he sought Photoplay stars, Viola Dana, Phyllis Haver, and Clara Bow.


Throughout the 1930’s “Golden Age of Hollywood,” he splashed magazines with glamour, using Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford and Merle Oberon to represent the ideal Maybelline image.  During the World War ll era, he turned to pin up girls like Bettie Grable, Elyse Knox, Hedy Lamaar, Rita Hayworth, and Lana Turner, to inspire the boys fighting for our Country and keep Maybelline ingredients flowing.  By the 1950’s, the girl next door, represented by Debby Reynolds and Grace Kelly, appealed to the emerging young mothers and housewives. When Maybelline appeared on Television in the early 1950’s, Tom Lyle decided to appeal to a more universal image and rather than promote film stars created the cool, exotic, sophisticated woman who would appeal to foreign as well as domestic markets.

Joan Crawford – had her teeth pulled and replaced to have a more beautiful smile and became Maybelline’s spokesperson for years.


Merle Oberon – was in an accident that disfigured the skin on her face, yet in films she looked flawless because of pancake make up.


Betty Grable - took over for the leading song and dance actress Alice Faye and became a big star in musicals as well As one of Maybelline’s top models.


Debby Reynolds - was to be Maybelline’s leading model in the 1950’s until Tom Lyle decided to change his ad campaign from the all American Girl to a more international exotic sophisticate in his TV commercials and print magazines.

Maybelline was the sole sponsor for the Grace Kelly, Prince Rainier lll, wedding in Monaco appeal to a more universal image and rather than promote film stars created the cool, exotic, sophisticated woman who would appeal to foreign as well as domestic markets.  

2 comments:

  1. Didn't Carole Lombard (I can't remember if she was a friend or model of Maybelline) have a scar from a car accident on her face she covered too? Or was it something only film retouch could address?

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  2. Carole Lombard was set to do some ads for Maybelline when she was killed in the airplane crash. She was also a friend of Tom Lyle Williams, Maybelline's founder. I do remember hearing something about a scar, but I don't have any information about it. I'm sure make up covered it for the camera. She was beautiful, funny and it was terrible for Clark Gable when he lost her.

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