Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Max Factor Celebrity Ads (1946-1947)

Good afternoon!

I keep getting later and later with these posts, but to tell you the truth, I think lately I've been only about half awake until the midday! I don't know what's going on with my sleep schedule-- I vaguely  remember listening to this Robert E. Howard horror stories audiobook while mending books this morning, and wolfing down some brown rice and tofu at lunch, but if there were any steps between those activities, I do not remember them. I got to the nonfiction desk about an hour ago and went "Wait...what did I blog about this morning....I DIDN'T BLOG THIS MORNING!" So here I am, penitent, still kind of thinking about the werewolf in the short story or how I should have made more tofu, with a Tuesday afternoon post for you. On Max Factor ads featuring forties' celebrities, no less.

On with the glamour! :)

This lipstick spread featuring Rita Hayworth was, of course, the first thing that caught my eye. Three panels of arguably one of the most beautiful movie stars of the whole decade...plenty of reason to stop dead in my tracks! A major mid century advertising coup, if you ask me. How do you like the different colors of red here? "Clear Red, Blue Red, and Rose Red" are yours to choose from! I think clear red is the closest to my beloved Revlon Fire and Ice...sometimes I like to daydream about a world where your color choices are red, red, or red!
Notice the use of hair colors in the second paragraph (below the bullets): "Are you a blonde...a brunette...a brownette...a redhead?" I THINK I MAY FINALLY HAVE A NAME FOR MY HAIR COLOR. Note the explanation on this blog that in the forties', "the term Brunette was reserved for ladies with only the very darkest shades of brown or black hair. Brownette came after because there wasn't really a special term set aside for the medium-hued category." THANK YOU. See, I have always hated referring to myself as either having either blonde or brown hair, because I have neither Veronica Lake blonde hair or Ava Gardner dark hair...and doesn't it sound like I'm writing some awful YA literature to call my hair "wheat colored"? It really is some color in between blonde and brown...I wish there was a better term than brownette, but I appreciate the fact that someone, at some time noted a missing term for my hair color.

Isn't Hayworth stunning in these photos? I always feel sad, having read biographies about how unhappy a lot of her life was, to see how breathtakingly pretty and A-L-I-V-E, vivacious she seems in her movies. Truly something special. Also, I want that blue headdress/dress in the above photo, please, thank you.

The next starlet I found hawking lipstick I would like to wear was none other than height-of-beauty Judy Garland, circa 1946. Seeing some of her color movie performances of the forties, you wonder how anyone could ever refer to her as "weird looking" or "ugly". I guess if you had to literally appear in a movie opposite Lana Turner or other conventional beauties of the day, it might be difficult for you if your face didn't exactly measure up to the Golden Ratio, but to have a voice like that and those wonderful dark, soulful eyes? Maybe as a 21st century viewer, we're so used to unconventional prettiness or jolie-laide actresses that I can't understand someone (including Garland herself) not thinking of her as a total cutie. Plus, her HAIR in this advertisement. YES, MAMA, YES.

A new kind of "lip make-up," huh? How great is this lipstick case, btw? When I first joined the cult of daily-lipstick-wearers a year or two ago, the aforementioned Revlon Fire and Ice came in an adorable vintage-style silver metal case as part of a "throwback" promotional...now I have to grab it in just the regular black tube. What was interesting about this though-- I bought my first tube or two at Walgreens, figuring, hey, it's a drug store, this is where you get makeup, right? Cost? $8 after tax. "Welllll, I'll wear it for like six months, that seems reasonable." I was in Walmart a few months later in a desperate bid to avoid going to Kroger's (I spend so much time at the grocery store with my diet because it seems like nothing ever keeps), when I realized I needed a new tube. Walmart cost? FIVE DOLLARS. I know, I know, evil corporate conglomerate, blah blah...but seriously, how can Walgreens get away with charging almost forty percent more (thank you, calculatorsoup.com)? I digress. I wonder how much one of these "sensational new lipsticks" cost in 1946?

Speaking of Lana Turner, here she is as a REDHEAD...which, why, Lana? Why would you have any color hair but that butter-yellow Technicolor shade that so showcases your blue eyes? I've never liked her much in her movies, but accede to her fans that she's easily one of the MOST glamorous of late forties'/early fifties' movie stars. The Johnny Stompanado murder stuff really eeks me out, even though you'd THINK the interstices of my interest in true crime and Hollywood would make that a more appealing affair than it is. At any rate, though, why the red hair, girl! Almost unrecognizable from your normal self, here! You might look better even as a brownette! Cass Timbelane was a 1947 MGM release, in which Lana's hair is her usual blonde (assumably, anyway, as it's in black and white) and she romances Spencer Tracy (hmmmm). However! The movie Green Dolphin Street, also released in 1947, does have her with this hair, but in a period piece set in 19th century England. Talk about a change of pace (and hair) from her iconic 1946 role in The Postman Always Rings Twice.  At any rate, to paraphrase Frank O'Hara, "Oh Lana we love you [go back to blonde already]"

And last but not least, a pre-I Love Lucy Lucille Ball, when she was still queen of the B movies, advertising "a sensational, new, and utterly different lipstick that offers a flattering new fashion in lip make up for you." You don't say! I love the mustard colored coat with the green striped blouse, her RED red hair...but couldn't they have done the background in any other shade to better show off the coloring that earned LB the nickname "Technicolor Tessie"? PS do you love or do you LOVE the eyeless, lipsticked heads in this and the Lana Turner ad?

I have to get back to work, but enough about me! Which actress do you like the best? Have you ever tried Max Factor makeup? Where do you stand on vintage reproduction makeup-- what colors have you had success with in recreating a vintage look? Are you a blonde, a brunette, a brownette, or a red head? Do you look better in lip colors with more orange, true-red, or pink to them? Let's talk!

Have a great Tuesday evening, be good, and I'll see you tomorrow (hopefully a little earlier!). Take care! Til then.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Anthea! Aren't they gorgeous? Judy and Rita, what more can you ask for.

  2. Legend has it that "brownette" was invented to describe the honey-brown shade given to the "new" Jean Harlow, when she was being reinvented from a platinum bombshell. :)

    1. Wow! I remember reading about the "more natural" hair color she was going for in what was it, "Red Headed Woman"? Somewhere in there? I did not know about brownette, though, that's great! (PS: secret dream job: MGM publicity department circa 1930's...oh, the rumours and fads and words I would make up! :) )

  3. Lucy looks like she's about to smack the sass off of someones face. I love her!
    Great ads.

    1. HAHA, this cracked me UP! You're dang right she does! I love in spite of how beautiful she is, she never looks "ordinary" in any of her still pictures, always a lot of class and character. Rosalind Russell's the same.

  4. I have always thought the same thing of Judy Garland, she is so adorable-how could she have thought she was ugly? I don't think it helped that the studio heads liked to keep their stars down by playing on their insecurities. Anyway, she looks amazing in this ad.

    Is it just me, or does Lana Turner look like our Joan here? Maybe her eyebrows are giving her the "Crawford" look?

    I have never used Max Factor-I think my mom did though. I used to be a "brownette', but now am a "silverette"! I notice they don't have a Max Factor ad for us :)

    1. Oh, I'm glad you agree! Those luminous dark eyes, and with Edith Head to dress her, I never thought her figure was as "strange and ungainly" as biographers always seem to stress. Poor, sweet girl. And Lana does look like Joan! I think it's the eyebrows, like you said. Leave unto Crawford the things that are Crawford's, Miss Turner! :)

      Re: omission: You know though! Barbara Stanwyck sports A BEAUTIFUL head of silverette hair in this ad for Lustre Cream, here, I have it saved on my Photobucket from a blog awhile back (pic here ). La Stanwyck is beautiful...the Halloween scene behind her, not so much!



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