Famed hair and makeup artist Max Factor made Hollywood stars even more beautiful over the course of his career. Scroll below to find out more.
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Max Factor turned the Gilda star from a brunette into a redhead. “He also raised her hairline three quarters of an inch higher all the way around using painful electrolysis,” says Donelle Dadigan, president and founder of the Hollywood Museum, which is housed in the original Max Factor building.
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“She had beautiful eyes and great bone structure,” says Dadigan. Max used makeup tricks to emphasize Audrey’s dark eyes and plump up her thin lips. The former ballerina’s hair was often kept short or pinned up to accentuate her swanlike neck. “She had a lovely naturalness about her,” Dadigan notes of the Breakfast at Tiffany’s star.
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“He was very handsome and defied aging,” says Dadigan, who adds that even men received the full Max Factor treatment. “You never saw a five o’clock shadow! They covered it up with makeup.”
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For many of her roles, the Jezebel star wore wigs — some of which are on display at the Hollywood Museum. “She had nice hair, but it was never thick,” says Dadigan, who explains that movie close-ups require a thick head of hair, so the light doesn’t shine through. “Max would add extra hair to most stars or they would wear a wig,” she confides.
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“Max Factor took her from a child star and turned her into a young beauty,” says Dadigan, who notes that the makeup room lighted for “brownettes” like Judy can still be visited at them Hollywood Museum. “We also have a wig she wore in Easter Parade.”
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“Grace was another natural beauty,” says Dadigan of the High Society star. “They enhanced her looks with makeup and added additional hair, what we would call extensions or clip-ons today.”
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Max shaped this natural beauty’s brows and created makeup to highlight Elizabeth’s unique eyes. “Nobody ever passed his test, because if they passed, they wouldn’t need him!” says Dadigan.
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“He had a good hairline at the back of his neck — which Max felt was a measurement of virility,” says Dadigan, who adds that the actor’s facial hair was made more luxurious using mohair threads.
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Max completely erased Joan’s freckles. “The makeup that was used on screen was almost like a thick grease or oil paint. You couldn’t see through it,” Dadigan says. Once her skin had become like a “white canvas,” Max would get busy shading to bring out her best features.
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When she arrived at Max’s studio, Marilyn asked for a blonde like Jean Harlow. “He gave her a new color: platinum blonde,” Dadigan says. “He also used waxing and electrolysis to rid her face of peach fuzz.”