Born in Poland in 1877, Max Factor worked as a beautician and wigmaker to the Russian imperial family, the Romanovs. In 1904, a year after Czar Nicholas II ordered the Jewish pogroms, Max Factor fled with his family to America. He first settled in St. Louis, where he had an exhibit at the World's Fair, before moving to Los Angeles in 1908. There he opened a shop selling cosmetics and wigs. Located in the theater district, the store catered to stage actors. But the birth of a newfangled entertainment called the "movies" changed everything.
As film technology advanced--from silent films to talkies and ultimately to color motion pictures--Max Factor created the make-up to keep up with it. He designed looks for Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth, and Katharine Hepburn. He gave Clara Bow "Bee-Stung Lips," and turned Jean Harlow into a platinum blonde. Soon women everywhere wanted to look like their favorite glamorous stars, and Max Factor was more than happy to oblige. He invented false eyelashes, lip gloss, foundation, eye shadow, the eyebrow pencil, and--every girl's friend--concealer, among other things, and he began selling his innovative cosmetics to the general public. Make-up madness, like movie madness, was here to stay. The right to rouge was seen as a symbol of freedom from social restrictions.
The father of modern make-up, Max Factor quite literally changed the faces of the world and created a cosmetics empire that launched the multibillion-dollar beauty industry. This is his extraordinary story.
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