Friday, September 15, 2023

Old Hollywood Glamour at the Star Studded Premiere of... "All This and Heaven Too


Tom Lyle Williams, Jane Allen, Emery Shaver, Annette Williams, Arnold Anderson, 1940 at the Villa Valentino.

Wednesday June 13, 1940

Excerpt from Jane Allen's diary while visiting her uncle at the Villa Valentino. 

This has been one grand day. Annette and I were up at a quarter of ten for an appointment at the hair dressers.

Emery picked us up in time for breakfast at one. At 4:14 we went to Max Factors for make-up. Glamour girls no less.

The big affair of attending the world premier of “All This and Heaven Too,” started about eight o'clock

when a limousine picked up Annette, Arnold, Emery, Tom Lyle and me, and drove over to get Emery's friend, Lona Woolsey.

The whole party were certainly dressed up, all the boys in tuxedos and the girls in formals.

The premiere was at Carthay Circle. The crowds simply jammed the streets as we arrived. The police, both on foot and mounted, were trying to hold the people back, but each person was trying to get a glimpse of the Stars.

The limousine stopped to let us out amid hundreds of lights and lots of cameramen. An announcer with a microphone was in front to announce the different stars as they arrive. They stared at us too, but we fooled them. We were just ordinary people. The long pass way from the front to the entrance of the theater seemed miles, with thousands of people staring, hoping each would be a Star. The walkway was lined with large gorgeous bouquets of flowers. These I didn't see as I walked in because I was so excited and nervous. 

After we were inside the theater, we stood around to see as many stars as possible. We saw Jimmy Stewart with Olivia de Haviland,

Jeffry Lynn,

Andrea Leeds,

Ann Miller,

Preston Foster,

Stewart Erwin,

and Don Ameche.

After walking around for a while we went into the Theater. Carthay Circle Theater is not very large but very beautiful. Furnished without consideration for cost. Carpet was beautiful red velvet and gold curtains.

At intermission we were in the lobby again.

 Edgar Bergen,

Charles Boyer,

and more that I just can't remember now. The picture was very good. Was over about Twelve midnight. We had our long walk from the entrance to the driveway again, with lots of spectators looking for stars.

On our way out, we saw Gene Lockhart, 

Elsa Maxwell

and Hedda Hopper.

The announcer gave us a thrill calling Mr. TL Williams' car waiting. We were just like the big shots.

From Carthay Circle we drove to Ciros, the swankiest nightclub in Hollywood. Certainly couldn't have gotten into the place without reservations, as the club was jammed. Ciros is a beautiful place, very modern and very colorful.

Just as we entered we saw Robert Taylor,

Barbara Stanwick,

Jack Benny, Mary Livingston,

Edward Arnold and his wife,

Andrea Leeds and her husband,

Bette Davis and her party sat right next to our table. In fact her chair was bumped right up next to my chair.

Constance Bennett and her party was a table on the other side next to our table.

William Powell and his wife Diana Lewis, had a table behind us.

Across the way was Norma Shearer and her party.

Also saw Geraldine Fitzgerald,

George Jessel with his sixteen year old bride, Lois Andrew,

and Louise Fazenda.

 Most of the stars we saw at the Premiere were also at Circos. Never in my life have I ever seen, heard of or expected to attend such a gala affair It was the height of formality and considered the social occasion of the season in Hollywood. After several drinks, frosted daiquiris, we had something to eat and got home about 3:30 am. Believe our party was the last to leave Ciros. Don't think I ever enjoyed any activity so much in my life. The memory will be something to go over again and again.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Interview with The York Management School The Center for Evolution of Global Business and Institutions (CEGBI)

Maybelline 1915

The original Maybelline Company formed in 1915 to 1967, though incorporated in 1954, was a private family owned company, based in Chicago. Tom Lyle Williams was President and was responsible for all advertising. Noel J. Williams, followed by Tom Lyle Williams Jr. was Vice President and ran the administrative part of the company. Rags Ragland, headed the Marketing department. Chet Hewes, (Maybelline’s namesake Mabel Williams’s husband,) headed the division of the company that produced mascara, called De Luxe Mascara.  Ches Haines, (TL’s sister, Eva Williams husband) was in charge of transportation. In other words these few men ran the entire world wide company,  that today takes hundreds of people, executives and employees. Maybelline was known as the “Wonder Company.”  Today it would be impossible to operate a corporation with such a small group of family executives.

Maybelline Founder, Tom Lyle Williams 1915
The original Maybelline Company focused on one idea. Eyes.  Tom Lyle Williams put every dime back into the company to expand its Advertising and Marketing as well as develop their product line. The secret to Maybelline’s success was the having a quality product at a price every woman could afford. Maybelline was and still is a dime store luxury, priced modestly and advertised in beautiful displays.

Maybelline's namesake, Mabel Williams

What is your opinion about the fact that so many top cosmetics brands were created by diaspora entrepreneurs?  

Tom Lyle Williams was an entrepreneur who didn’t want to work for anyone. There was a need in the market place and he was there at the right time in history. Beauty and creativity go hand in hand. I believe young dispora entrepreneurs have their own beauty secrets and don’t want to give them away. They don’t want to work or can’t get work, they are driven by their own need to produce something and be a success in their own right. Many dispora entrepreneurs have old fashioned beauty secrets handed down to them through the generations and are inspired to share them with other women. Like Maybelline… being concocted with ash and Vaseline a secret of the harem, according to a vintage movie magazine…it filled a need and it took off because women were ready for it.

Tom Lyle and Mabel's brother Noel J. Williams and his wife Frances 1916

How do you think the management of the cosmetics brand changes in periods of crisis such as the current recession?

When the economy is down, cosmetic sales are up. Women will give up a lot of luxuries, but they won’t give up their beauty products. With Maybelline, it’s even more pronounced, because of the price that most women can afford even though their money is limited.

I am looking at two periods in time such as the Great Depression and World War II. What are the marketing and branding strategies of your brand? Do you have an idea of what it was like during these two periods and what changed substantially?

During the Great Depression, Maybelline moved from being a product women ordered from the classified section of magazines and newspapers, to being a dime store product. Maybelline was the first to create carded merchandise in the 1930s. They also were the first to create swirling displays, we take for granted today. They went from black and white small ads in movie and fashion magazines to full page color ads. They were the first to come out with “Before and After” print ads. Thom Lyle was a visionary always ahead of the curve. He also targeted the youth market, who were going to the movie theatres to see Hollywood Stars, and wanted to look like them. He stalked the dime stores with new products that even teenage girls could afford. Maybelline went from a large 75 cent box mascara to a small 10 cent box. He sold in volume… that was his secret. He also had a quality product that would endure for over 100 years today.

During WW ll, Maybelline was shipped to All the Army and Navy Barrack stores, where they carried ciggerates, beer, candy, chewing gum etc.  Enlisted women, and wives of the enlisted men,  insisted on having their Maybelline. (The American Government almost stopped the production of mascara during the War, because petroleum was rationed. Whoever, Tom Lyle went to the Pentagon and said, “You stop us from producing Maybelline and the moral of our soldiers will go down. Maybelline kept its doors open.)  One the War ended, Maybelline took off Globally, because though the Army Barracks stores closed, women all over Europe, who were also able to shop at the stores, demanded access to their Maybelline.  It was during this time, Tom Lyle Williams, contracted the biggest Hollywood Stars to represent Maybelline in full color, glossy ads, on the back of movie magazines. Women in the States and Soldiers, overseas, pinned these pictures up in their bedrooms or in the lockers of the barracks’. They were signed by the Stars and looked like they were personally autographed to them. This was a huge advertising campaign helped sell War Bonds. Maybelline also produced a more glamorous line of products that young women enjoyed carrying in their purses while out dancing in clubs. It was all done to boost morale.

In your opinion, do you think the motivation has changed from that on the date of the brand’s creation and why? 

I believe Maybelline today wants to reach a larger market of women, women of color especially. They now have a much larger line of beauty products that cater every woman’s needs. Face makeup, nails, lipstick, powder you name it they do it. Maybelline is about to come out with Organic products. Yes they are going Green. They don’t do animal testing anymore and they are still the premier cosmetic brand in the world. Ever 1.5 second a Maybelline mascara is being sold in the world. To think it started 108 years ago, by my Great uncle, a 19 year old entrepreneur with a 500 dollar loan is really unbelievable. I believe the Brand today is still motivated by Tom Lyle Williams original concept of producing a quality product at a sensible price that all women can have access to and afford. And, to continue producing the most beautiful print ads and TV commercials in the Cosmetic field

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Glamourdaze talks to author of The Maybelline Story and original Maybelline Family Descendant, Sharrie Williams.


Mascara – Maybel Williams and The Maybelline Story

History of Mascara – Maybel Williams and The Maybelline Story

How many women in the world are aware that they owe a debt of gratitude to a young lady called Maybel Williams – who – following an accident in 1915 – singed her eyelashes?
The resourceful girl had a flash of inspiration and burned a cork, mixed the ashes with some Vaseline and then applied it to what was left of her lashes. In an instant she resembled a Hollywood starlet! ‘Eureka!’ – mascara was born ! Not exactly of course. The art of dying lashes goes back to Cleopatra, but there was no removable cosmetic of this kind that a woman could buy in a chemist.
Her brother Tom along with his brother Noel took this idea and developed Lash Brow Line – the worlds first commercially available mascara.In 1916 he changed the name to Maybelline – named after – you guessed it – Maybel Williams! The name being a combination of Maybel and Vaseline !

1920-lash brow-ine—early-Maybelline product

Eugene Rimmel is also credited for producing the first petroleum jelly mix but the product that we all know and love today is without question down to the success of Maybelline. The story of Maybelline is not only one of glamor and success but of mystery and intrigue which until recently has remained untold. The big money did not actually come in to the family until the company was sold in 1967.

1930s Maybelline makeup ad

In 1978  came the mysterious murder of the original  ‘Miss Maybelline’ – who died when her home was bombed. Maybelline heiress Sharrie Williams – Miss Maybelline’s grand-daughter  and Tom and Maybels great niece – now tells the true story – and I can certainly say it has all the ingredients of a real dynasty drama in her book “The Maybelline Story” Sharrie has very kindly agreed to talk to Glamourdaze.

Sharrie , can you give us a quick synopsis of the Maybelline Story?

SW: The Maybelline Story traces the history of cosmetics in America and how one simple eye product caught the imagination of the public. Yet, unlike any other book about beauty, it reveals the never-before-told story of this man who invented mascara, Tom Lyle Williams (my great uncle)–a private figure who hid from the public because he was gay. To stay safe from the scrutiny of the press and government (which in the early thirties deemed mascara the “province of whores and homosexuals), Tom Lyle cloistered himself behind the gates of his Rudolph Valentino Villa and, with the help of his lifetime lover Emery, ran his empire from a distance. The deeper Tom Lyle went into hiding, the more his sister-in-law and ultra-ego Evelyn (my grandmother,) struggled her way to the spotlight. Attracted to bad boys, she married one–Tom Lyle’s playboy brother Preston (my grandfather). From that moment on, Evelyn used the Maybelline name–and later, its money–to reinvent herself from circus ballerina to flamboyant flapper, extravagant socialite to dinner theater star. Now, after nearly a century of silence, this true story celebrates the lives of a forgotten American hero–one man forced to remain behind a mask, and one woman whose hunger for beauty ultimately destroyed her. Spanning three generations, The Maybelline Story shows the hidden haunts of sudden fortune, and the tragedy that ensues when vanity lets loose. Finally, it speaks to women s’ decade-long desires–to be beautiful and be loved–and asks the question: At what price, beauty?

What is interesting is that the whole family became involved in Tom’s enterprise starting with your great uncle Noel along with your grandad Preston and grand aunt Eva! Did Mabel have anything to do with the business?

SW:Tom Lyle renamed his first eye beauty product Lash-Brow-Ine, to Maybelline in honor of his sister Mabel who gave him the idea for mascara, in 1915.  She had burned her lashes and brows tried to make them grow back and look darker by mixing a concoction of Vaseline and ash from a burned cork in her hand and applying it to her brows and lashes.  Tom Lyle took the idea to a chemist and Maybell Laboratories was born.

Your Grandmother Evelyn became the first Miss Maybelline ?

SW: My grandmother got that title when she opened a Dinner Theater in Hot Springs Arkansas in 1978.  She promoted herself as Miss Maybelline  “Last of the Red Hot Mama’s!” Her story ends in tragedy.

Evelyn Williams with her glamorous sisters Verona-and–Bunny-1922

What are your memories of visiting your grand uncle Tom as a young teenager ? I suppose there was lots of free make-up on the go !

SW: My favorite memory is driving all my best girlfriends up to his  estate in Bel Air California, in my blue and white 1957 Chevy so we could get some samples of Maybelline for a raffle our Club was having. He not only gave us the raffle samples, he gave us a giant box of Maybelline products to split up between us. It was the most exciting thing that could happen to a bunch of 17 year old High School girls – a years supply of our favorite cosmetics for free!


As Maybelline took off with glamorous stars like Clara Bow lending their name to the brand – it must have been very exciting. Did your grandfather Preston and your great uncle Tom Lyle enjoy the trappings of Hollywood and all that went with it? It appears that while Preston partied – Tom kept his nose to the grind- stone and concentrated on developing Maybelline.

SW: Yes! Tom Lyle worked to build the brand using the biggest Stars in Hollywood to represent Maybelline and his brother, my grandfather Preston ran to Hollywood to hob nob with them.  Especially with Clara Bow.  However, it was also Preston who called his brother and said, “get out here, it’s Paradise.”  Tom Lyle and his partner Emery flew to Hollywood and soon rented Clara Bow’s Beach House in the Malibu Colony.  All very exciting in those days.

1920s Maybelline makeup


Is it true that Tom bought and moved in to Rudolph Valentino’s old home?

SW: Yes!  After Rudolph Valentino died in 1926, Tom Lyle and Emery rented Clara Bow’s beach house a couple of years, and then rented Valentino’s home in the Hollywood Hills for another couple of years.  They loved the home so much that Tom Lyle bought it, had it remodeled and named it The Villa Valentino.

Tom must have been a true romantic because he remained with his life partner Emery for 50 years until he died !

SW: He and Emery met in Chicago when the Maybelline Company was just getting off the ground.  Emery was in theater and very flamboyant, talented and brilliant.  He helped Tom Lyle write the Maybelline ad’s that appeared in movie magazines.  When they moved to Hollywood, Emery continued to write copy for  Maybelline’s spectacular advertisements and remained by Tom Lyle’s side until his untimely death in 1964.  They were devoted in life and are even entombed together in death.

Sharrie Williams Dad – Bill Williams as a boy with his mother Evelyn, his uncle Tom Lyle and Tom Lyle’s lifetime partner Emery Shave sitting on the running board of a 1934 Packard

In December of 1967 the company was sold and your father”s family came into considerable fortune. Did this affect your life?
Your grand mother Evelyn married again late in life and had her will changed. Did this cause much upset?

SW: My father, was raised by his mother Evelyn and his uncle Tom Lyle, after his father Preston died.  When the Maybelline Company sold, my father inherited a fortune overnight and all of our lives changed.  It was a blessing and a curse, having so much so soon and it went to my grandmother’s head.  She was always beautiful even in her 70’s and when she got involved with a younger man and quickly married him, she took us all out of her will.  It was a nightmare to say the least, but it forced me to finally grow up and develop myself into a real person.  When I was young and so spoiled by my grandmother I never cared to do anything but shop and look beautiful.  After her death I wanted to go back to school and write my book.  It took many years, but in the end The Maybelline Story was told.

1940s Maybelline makeup ad.

The original Miss Maybelline – was your grandmother Evelyn whose famous quote was “Many a wreck is hid under a good paint job” .
Her story ends very tragically in an unsolved murder . Tell us what happened?

SW: She followed her new husband to Hot Springs Arkansas in 1974 and found out he and his ex-wife had plans to kill her and take all her money.  She survived, but got mixed up with a business partner who exploited her in the Bible Belt.  She opened her Hollywood Palace Dinner Theater and receive death threats.  You have to read the book to find out what really happened to Miss Maybelline.

Now Sharrie – be honest – do you wear Maybelline cosmetics yourself ?

SW: After The Maybelline Company sold and we were so well off . I must admit I stopped buying Maybelline and instead bought Cosmetics from Neiman Marcus. One day in my 40’s I decided to try Great Lash again and was amazed at how good it was.  I stopped using Estee Lauder mascara and started using Great Lash.  It is still the one Mascara in my make-up bag today.

Are you still proud of today’s brand of Maybelline ?

SW: Oh definitely.  Maybelline is still the number one Cosmetic brand in the world – and a Great Lash Mascara is sold every 1.7 seconds somewhere around the world.  Maybelline New York is owned by L’Oreal today and has a tremendous advertising budget…..I must admit their commercials and print ads are spectacular.  They also have a much larger line of products than the original Maybelline Company, which makes them appealing Globally.  I’m proud that the little Maybelline Company that started off with a $500 loan almost 100 years ago, is a multi-billion dollar Corporation today.  And to think that it all began with my great uncle, Tom Lyle Williams a 19 year old entrepreneur with a good idea.

If you want to read the story for yourself – treat yourself to The Maybelline Story.
Like her Nana Evelyn – Sharrie Williams herself was and remains a beautiful and glamorous woman, of whom Tom Lyle must have been justly proud, so we finish this post with a slight amendment to the following well known quote ” Maybe it’s Maybelline or maybe she was born with it !”

You can catch another excellent interview with Sharrie with Kay at Movie Star Makeover

Finally a vintage Maybelline TV ad on our Youtube channel. Enjoy!

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2 thoughts on “Mascara – Maybel Williams and The Maybelline Story”

  1. Thank you for the lively interview, I’m delighted you asked me to be a guest on you delicious blog today and I will link it to my blog as well at Maybelline is very close to my heart and it’s always nice to hear comments from people who love it as well. Best, always, Sharrie Williams

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