Saturday, October 16, 2010


Book That Asks, Maybe She’s Born With It?

There are certain stories, so dramatic, so sordid, that they seem positively destined for television—well, Lifetime television, at least. A new, thoroughly engrossing tome, The Maybelline Story and the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind It (Bettie Youngs Books, 2010), fits the bill, with insight into all the brand’s dirty little details. And author Sharrie Williams certainly would know: As heir to the drugstore makeup brand’s massive dynasty, Williams is the steward of all family documentation. Let us give you a brief synopsis to properly whet your appetite for this incredible read: The saga begins with a fire. In 1915, founder Tom Lyle Williams watched as his sister Mabel, after singing her lashes while cooking, applied a mixture of petroleum jelly, burnt cork, and coal dust to her damaged fringe in an effort to simulate fuller, more luxurious lashes. Tom immediately saw dollar signs in his sister’s makeshift mascara, and so began the now billion-dollar business that is Maybelline (named after the woman, Mabel, who inspired its creation). The dishy book’s most publicized revelation is that Tom, despite being a married father, carried out a 35-year relationship with a male partner, ad exec Emery Shaver. We were far more fascinated by the vignette about Evelyn, though, Tom’s over-the-top glamorous sister-in-law. The night after opening her Maybelline Dinner Theatre in Arkansas with a star-studded gala in 1975 (Bill Clinton was in attendance), Evelyn perished in a suspicious house fire, and the crime was never solved. Scandalous! It’s definitely a good beach book, if you’re headed for warmer climes this winter—and if anything, it will forever change the way you look at that pink and green tube of the brand’s best-selling Great Lash Mascara.

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