Sunday, November 27, 2011

Max Factor

Congratulations to Brian and Amy who correctly identified Max Factor, Sr., as yesterday's Person-of-Mystery!

Max Factor

Born iŁódź, Congress Kingdom of Poland, in 1872 as Maksymilian Faktorowicz, he early became the wigmaker for the Imperial Russian Grand Opera.  However, due to increasing anti-semitism in Russia, he left for America in 1904 and settled first in St. Louis, Missouri where he used his Anglicized name, Max Factor.  His business partner soon cheated him out of his money and after series of misfortunes, Factor left for Los Angeles in 1908 and established a cosmetic and wig company the following year.

Max Factor's Los Angeles Shop on Hill Street in Los Angeles

Motion picture films brought the audience closer to actors than had been possible during the stage era and as a result, the greasepaint used in earlier times was noticeably unacceptable for close camera work.  Max used his chemistry know how to create a thin creamy greasepaint that resisted both cracking and caking.  Soon actors and actresses clamored for his makeup (the verb "make-up" being first used as a noun by Factor himself).

Max Factor, chemist and cosmetician

His craft was in such great demand that movies even listed Max Factor in the credits and before too long the general public was demanding the same great products as the glamorous movie stars.

Max Factor applying makeup to actress Dorothy Mackaill

Factor died in 1938, but today he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Max Factor's Star on the Walk of Fame

So Max Factor is pretty much the father of modern makeup, but here's one last interesting little tidbit, in 1932, he came up with a machine he called the "Beauty Calibrator" also known as the "Beauty Micrometer."  In a pseudo-scientific way, it would supposedly pinpoint flaws where facial corrections needed to be made with pancake shading.

Max Factor's Beauty Calibrator in Action


mary said...

I wonder what happened to that Beauty Calibrator? I think I need one!

Nate Maas said...

The Beauty Calibrator currently resides in the Hollywood Museum, 1660 North Highland Avenue in Los Angeles.

Anonymous said...

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Nate Maas said...

Shalom, Rob!

Virgil S. said...

Fascinating stuff about Max F.
Here is another Coolidge story you might like, it is from the book "Bumper Crop" by Bennett Cerf, copyright 1956:
Here is what I believe to be a brand-new Cal Coolidge story and, since it comes straight
from Herbert Hoover, there is no question about its authenticity.
Mr. Hoover, then Secretary of Commerce, was alone with Coolidge in the
President's study at the White House one evening when a phone began ringing. There
were seven or eight phones on the desk, and Cal picked up all the wrong ones first. He
was reasonably exasperated by the time he happened upon the right one, explaining in an
aside, "This is a direct wire from the State Department. Hasn't rung in three years."
(Editor's note: Those were the days!) "No wonder I didn't recognize the sound of the
bell!" Into the phone he rasped, "What on earth are you calling me for at this hour of the
The caller was Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes and he explained, "We've
just had word that Queen Marie of Rumania is planning a visit to the United States and I
presumed you would want to know about it." Mr. Coolidge had only one comment to
make before he hung up. "Hmmphh," he mused. "I hope you'll see to it that she pays her
own expenses!"
Sorry the story is late; hope it is OK to post it on this comments page. Merry Christmas season to one and all!

Nate Maas said...

Thanks Virgil! I agree, it would be wonderful if the State Department had so little to do.

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