The Maybelline Story —and the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind It

In 1915, after a cooking fire singed his sister Mabel’s lashes, Tom Lyle Williams watched in fascination as she mixed petroleum jelly with burnt cork and coal dust and applied it to her lashes. Inspired by Mabel’s simple beauty trick, he created what would become a billion-dollar business that remains an icon a century later. He named it Maybelline in her honor.

Throughout the 20th century Maybelline inflated, collapsed and thrived in tandem with the nation’s upheavals. While glitz, glamour, and scandal swirled from behind the gates of his Rudolf Valentino Villa, Williams launched the careers of Betty Grable, Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, Debbie Reynolds and others. His influence was everywhere: he held the sole ad contract for the Miss Amer- ica pageant and to Grace Kelly’s wedding; he was the first to place an ad on TV: the Feds investigated Maybelline as a monopoly.

He revered women, none more than his brother’s wife, Evelyn—his lifelong muse. Entranced by her “roaring charisma,” he called her the “real Miss Maybelline” and based his ads on her persona: beautiful, hardboiled and daring—a woman who at age 76, got a facelift, breast implants and opened the Maybelline Dinner Theatre in Arkansas. Invited guests included stars, dig- nitaries, and Gov. Bill Clinton. The next day she was dead, victim to an arson fire in her home; bizarrely, her 13 wigs lined up on the lawn nearby. To this day the case remains unsolved.

A tale both epic and intimate, alive with the clash, the hustle, the music and dance of American enterprise.

ISBN 978-0-9843081-1-8
416 pgs • Photos • $18.95
Bettie Youngs Books
www.BettieYoungsBooks.com

 

What others are saying about this book ...

Love and tenderness are palpable in a sensitive recount of this amazing his- torical memoir. This is NOT a one time read. A literary prism, relevant to the boardroom as it is to a book club or fireside/poolside read. Truly an inspira- tional legacy reminding us in the words of Proust that: “the voyage of discovery lies not in finding new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
—Diane Bruno, CISION MEDIA

We are especially fascinated to slip vicariously into the lives of the rich and priv- ileged yet cheer for the underdog who overcomes obstacles to astound doubters with his success. We are enthralled with the historical sweep of events whose repercussions live on to the present—all elements of this amazing story, which reads like a juicy novel but is a memoir distilled from nine hundred pages of family accounts from the 1920s to the present.
—Steve Hudis, producer, IMPACT Motion Pictures

Superb! An exciting tale that gives an insider’s view into the genesis of a corpo- rate giant. A wild ride, an enticing saga.
—Alan Andrews Ragland, son of Maybelline legend “Rags” Ragland

Spanning four generations, The Maybelline Story traces the founding of one of the true great family enterprises that spawned the billion-dollar cosmetic industry and reveals the glamour—and seedy underside—of sudden fortune and unre- strained vanity on the family dynasty behind it. Wow to seeing this on screen!
—Nina Siemaszko, actress, The West Wing

A richly told story of a forty-year, white-hot love triangle that fans the flames of a major worldwide conglomerate.
Neil Shulman, Associate Producer, Doc Hollywood

An engrossing and captivating tale that spans four generations and reveals the humanity glamour, and seedy underside of a family intoxicated by the quest for wealth, power, and perfection. This book is classic literary satisfaction, a real page-turner.
Nina Siemaszko, actress, The West Wing

We are especially fascinated to slip vicariously into the lives of the rich and privileged yet cheer for the underdog who overcomes obstacles to astound doubters with his success. We are enthralled with the historical sweep of events whose repercussions live on to the present, all elements of this amazing story—which reads like a juicy novel but is a family memoir distilled from nine hundred pages of family accounts from the 1920’s to present.
Steven Hudis, producer, IMPACT Motion Pictures

Superb! An exciting tale that gives an insider’s view into the genesis of a corporate giant. A wild ride, an enticing saga.
Alan Andrews Ragland, son of Maybelline legend “Rags” Ragland

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