Monday, October 10, 2016

The Maybelline Story opens the doors to a fascinating era in America's history during the 20th Century.

1943 - Executive Secretary to Noel and Tom Lyle Williams, Dorothy Mullander, stands in front of the Maybelline Company's famous Maybelline logo on the double doors leading into the Maybelline building.  The Maybelline building was two stories with a basement and three apartments for family members who just got married and were getting on their feet.  The packaging and distribution center was also located in the basement.  The first floor held offices for various secretaries and other workers and the walls were filled with pictures of movie stars who modeled for Maybelline in the pages of world wind magazines.  The second floor contained the executive offices for Noel, Tom Lyle, Tom Jr and Rags Ragland.  The Maybelline Building was located at 5900 Ridge Ave, at Ridge and Clark, in the heart of down town Chicago where much of  The Maybelline Story takes place during the gangster ridden era of prohibition.


Outside the Maybelline Building 1934.
When Maybelline was sold, each employee was given $1,000 for each year they worked at Maybelline. Even those who hadn't been there a full year got $1,000. Uncle Lyle's secretary Dorothy (aka Ducky) ended up with something like $35,000 as did another secretary called Jimmie. Jimmie called Mable to ask her to relay to TL how grateful was that she could retire after she got her $30,000 check. At the time my parents had a bookstore and a former employee came in and told them he was bowled over to receive $8,000.

Tom Lyle, Jr. inherited his father's shyness. Mable's daughter Shirley worked summers at Maybelline and she said every morning TL Jr. walked briskly to his private office, said a brief hello to everyone and no one saw him again until the end of the day. On the other hand, Noel kept up with all the employees' and their families. The women who worked there loved him dearly and called him Unky.

When Tom Lyle died, his niece Shirley got a phone call from TL, Jr.'s lawyer.  He said Tom Lyle Jr. was too shy to go downtown to meet with the executor and lawyers and asked Shirley to do it. She went downtown to explain all the family members and their relationships to the family. Good thing she had and still has an excellent memory.  (Memories from Mable's daughters, Shirley and Joyce, and her granddaughters, Donna and Linda, who still live in Chicago.
Tom Lyle Williams at his home in Bel Air, after the sale of his Maybelline Company in 1968


TL left a big portion of his estate to the Salvation Army. For many years he rented them space in the Maybelline building for $1 annually.


If you enjoyed HBO's Mildred Pierce with it's Hollywood era of the 1930's and 1940's, you will go nuts over The Maybelline Story.

2 comments:

  1. How neat! If truth be told, I'm munching on a couple of scallions that I sprinkeled ever so lightly with salt while tuning into Rachael Ray given she is putting together some kind of healthy dish of ...prosciutto! Be that as it may, I just discovered that WallyMart puts the onions in a re-sealable bag of all things!!! Lo that Tom Lyle or Ducky were into that "back in the day" let alone his generous post sale endowment ensuring a bit of retirement. Whoa...today...to my kids/G-kids if they are not creating such a windfall even if just for themselves down the road. Kudos to Tom Lyle who, while he lived life/reaped the fruits of his labor, kept those who helped make that possible in mind. You will only improve your life, IMHO, by reading the Maybelline Story, but I'm sure that of others and I'm sure the country....and especially if you remember to vote the right way in this ridiculous election!

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  2. I'm with you Bob. The world Tom Lyle created as an Entrepreneur, could be gone with the wind. The new America will kill that Spirit, I'm afraid.

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