CORPORATIONS: Glamour for Sale

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In a Los Angeles TV studio last week, a pretty blonde actress faced the cameras for a special kind of screen test. Looking at her image, a panel of cosmetics experts gave their verdict: her makeup was perfect. After a solid year of experiment, a makeup had been invented that looked natural before the glaring new eye of color TV. The inventor: Hollywood's Max Factor & Co., whose concern with improving human looks before both cameras and kitchen stoves has made its name synonymous with glamour all over the world.

In the past half-century, Max Factor has powdered, rouged and bewigged almost every U.S. star of stage, screen and TV, and invented special makeups for each medium. By retailing the same kind of theatrical glamour to housewives as well, it has grown into a cosmetic giant, with some 200 different kinds of lipstick, face powder, talcum, cologne, mascara, face cream, shampoo and soap. In 1953 alone, Davis Factor and Max Factor Jr., the brothers who run the company as chairman and president, counted net sales of $19 million in 101 countries, with profits of $1,250,000.

From Paste to Platinum. When Max Factor Sr., an immigrant Polish wigmaker, started improving on nature in Hollywood, the screen's silent sirens wore only two kinds of powder—white and flesh-colored—both as pasty as dough. Factor developed new. softer powder shades, more complimentary rouge tones, and an easily applied foundation grease. Soon such stars as Gloria Swanson, Joan Crawford, Mary Pickford and Clara Bow were wearing Factor makeup off the movie lots, and U.S. women, who had previously thought that any makeup made them look "fast," started clamoring for the natural-looking powder and rouge. When Jean Harlow suddenly became a platinum blonde, Max Factor was ready with the bleach to help thousands follow suit. By the '30s, scores of Hollywood pictures carried the Max Factor name in their credits. Biggest single order: 600 gallons of body paint for the bronze-skinned characters in Ben Hur.

With his cosmetics line off to a booming start, Factor hurried back to his first love: wigmaking. He imported fine-textured hair from Italian, German and Balkan peasant women, who grew it specially for sale. Soon he cornered Hollywood's costume wig market with super-de luxe models priced up to $5,000.

Factor's toupees ("hairpieces" in the trade) were an even bigger success. Instead of the obvious, helmet-like objects that hairless U.S. men expected, Factor made a new, almost invisible toupee by sewing each strand of hair to a piece of fine flesh-colored lace, sold every style from romantic waves to college-boy crew cuts. Now men all over the U.S. wear Factor "toups" (price: up to $150 apiece), and the company sells 20,000 a year. In Hollywood, nine out of every ten male stars over the age of 35 wear "hair additions" on the screen (on the current list: Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, Henry Fonda, Gene Kelly, Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart), most of them made by Max Factor. Says Max Jr.: "If they're wearing them, they're Factor's."

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