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The Maybelline Story: And the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind Itby Sharrie Williams, Bettie Youngs (With), Michael A. Levine (Foreword by)
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In 1915, when a kitchen stove fire singed his sister Mabel's lashes and brows, Tom Lyle Williams watched in fascination as she performed a 'secret of the harem'-mixing petroleum jelly with coal dust and ash from a burnt cork and apply it to her lashes and brows. Mabel's simple beauty trick ignited Tom Lyle's imagination and he started what would become a billion-dollar business, one that remains a viable American icon after nearly a century. He named it Maybelline in her honor.
Throughout the 20th century, the Maybelline Company inflated, collapsed, endured, and thrived in tandem with the nation's upheavals-as did the family that nurtured it. Setting up shop first in Chicago, Williams later, to avoid unwanted scrutiny of his private life, cloistered himself behind the gates of his Rudolph Valentino Villa and ran his empire from a distance.
Now after nearly a century of silence, this true story celebrates the life of an American entrepreneur, a man whose vision rocketed him to success along with the woman held in his orbit, Evelyn Boecher-who became his lifelong fascination and muse. Captivated by her 'roaring charisma,' he affectionately called her the 'real Miss Maybelline' and based many of his advertising campaigns on the woman she represented: commandingly beautiful, hard-boiled and daring. Evelyn masterminded a life of vanity, but would fall prey to fortune hunters and a mysterious murder that even today remains unsolved.
A fascinating and inspiring story of ambition, luck, secrecy-and surprisingly, above all, love and forgiveness, a tale both epic and intimate, alive with the clash, the hustle, the music, and dance of American enterprise.
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The Maybelline StoryAnd the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind It
By Sharrie Williams
Bettie Youngs BooksCopyright © 2010 Sharrie Williams
All right reserved.
Inventing Tom Lyle Williams
'Many a wreck is hid under a good paint job,' my grandmother, 'Miss Maybelline,' always told me. That and 'Glamour is just sex that got civilized.' And so the Maybelline story begins, as it should, with illusion: the illusion of perpetual, larger-than-life glamour.
As a fifteen-year-old, my great uncle Tom Lyle Williams loved movies in a way that was different from that of most people his age. I imagine him poised over the film projector in the back of the nickelodeon where he worked after school for six dollars a week, watching a silent movie flickering in the darkness while a pianist banged out ragtime melodies in time with the action on the screen. The year is 1911, and even a small farming town like Morganfield, bordering the coalfields of western Kentucky, provides enough business to keep a movie theater thriving.
But for Tom Lyle, as everyone calls him, working in the nickelodeon is not merely a job. He does not just project the films, and he does not just watch them. He is absorbed by them. There in the nickelodeon, Tom Lyle can slip into worlds so unlike Morganfield that it's hard to believe they exist on the same planet. And the people who dwell there! Mary Pickford in In the Sultan's Garden . . . so ethereal with her blonde curls and lambent eye, so captivating in her every expression and gesture . . . it's shocking to look from her to the audience of farmers and their stolid wives, all sunburns and corded hands, dreary frocks and crumpled hats.
This is the mystery that holds Tom Lyle spellbound in the darkness: what makes the actresses flickering on the screen so much more attractive and fascinating than ordinary women? Even his sisters Mabel and Eva, whom he loves dearly, are so plain in comparison. And the same is true of men. Can any man Tom Lyle has ever seen in person compare in handsomeness to the sleek, square-chinned Wallace Reid or the dapper Dell Henderson? What is their secret, these stars, these larger-than-life miracles? Are they just born special, or is it something they learn? And if it can be learned, is the secret available to Tom Lyle Williams of Morganfield, Kentucky?
One day Unk Ile, as I came to call him, would tell me about how he studied the film stars: how they stood, how their gazes caught and held your own, how they moved their bodies. He noted the clothing they wore and how they combed their hair, searching for the key that would unlock their secrets.
His neighbors in Morganfield had already pegged Tom Lyle as a hopeless dreamer, a lad who would never amount to anything. If asked, they would have said that a projector boy should focus on his job instead of pondering something as frivolous as the nature and power of beauty. Did he not come from one of the better local families? Was his father not both a gentleman farmer and the town sheriff, a tough, no-nonsense fellow more likely to toss a person in jail than discuss the interplay of light and shadow on the silver screen?
And yet it was the art and artifice behind beauty that would one day tear our clan away from its deep Kentucky roots and bring us into a new world of glamour and fortune. It was the desire to possess this magical power and all that went with it that eventually seduced us all, as surely as if we'd been sitting with Unk Ile in the nickelodeon back in 1911.
To this day, I personally identify with Unk Ile more than I do with his younger brother Preston, my own grandfather. For one thing, Preston died before I was born, but that is not the main reason. I relate to my great uncle's thoughtful, sensitive nature, which by all accounts was the antithesis of my grandfather's mercurial misbehaviors. Both men were handsome, but again in different ways . . . one light, one shadow. My great-grandmother said that of all the children, her fourth, Tom Lylewith his head of blond, curly hair, his twinkling brown eyes, his provocative personalitywas the most beautiful.
Tom Lyle loved, respected, and wanted to please his parents. Thomas Jefferson 'TJ' Williams and his wife Susan assumed Tom Lyle would one day become a gentleman farmer like his father and grandfathers, although other acceptable career options included professor or priest. But when Tom Lyle looked in the mirror, he saw none of these things. He saw a boy who, at age fifteen, had less muscular definition than his thirteen-year-old brother Preston, and no facial hair at all. This bothered him. How could a man who looked like a boy possibly win the heart of Bennie Gibbs, the only girl in Morganfield as lovely as the actresses on the silver screen? She seemed to like him, holding his gaze a moment longer than necessary when she came into the nickelodeon or when they bumped into each other in town, but that wasn't enough. He needed more. He needed her to know he was special, too. For inspiration, he headed straight for the family Bible . . . which he slid aside in favor of what was always kept beneath it: the Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalogue.
For Tom Lyle, the catalogue offered sojourns into the sophisticated existence he craved, an overview of the desires, habits, and customs of people far more worldly than his neighborsor himself. The catalogue so fascinated him that he'd taught himself to read, at age four, by poring over its product descriptions.
But that wasn't all. The greatest thing about the catalogue was that through the magic of mail order, a small-town boy like Tom Lyle had access to the same products as city dwellers. He turned to the well-thumbed page advertising motorcycles. He'd practically memorized the information by now, but he went over it again. The black Pierce four-cylinder was the latest thing on two wheels: urbane, with an aura of menacebut far too expensive for a nickelodeon operator. The Pope one-cylinder was much cheaper . . . but it seemed so ordinary. Then there was the Indian two-cylindercandy-apple red, with the sexy curves of a woman . . . and cheap enough to save for.
Although Tom Lyle was every bit the dreamer townsfolk thought him to be, he also possessed qualities that they would never have guessed existed. One was the pragmatism worthy of any hard-bitten farmer. He calculated that he would need two months to save what he needed using his nickelodeon salary alonetoo long to suit him. So he supplemented that income with his earnings from a business he'd started at the age of nine: selling baseball cards. Although he was a fan of the sport and loved the pictures, player infoand advertising copyon the cards, he mostly viewed his collection as an investment. At age ten he'd begun selling off his most prized cards, then used the profits to buy more highly collectible cards and sold those. Soon he'd expanded his business to include the trading cards found in cigarette packages, which featured photos of portions of scantily clad women that could be pieced together to form a pin-up. He could charge the highest prices for a pretty face or an exposed ankle.
Another quality Tom Lyle possessed in volume was determination. In only six weeks, he had amassed the formidable sum of forty dollars and placed his order for the Indian. Only after the money was gone did he admit the deed to his parents. They scowled and lectured but didn't forbid him to have the motorcycle.
When the Indian finally arrived, gleaming and beautiful, Tom Lyle was ready. He had purchased goggles and leather gloves and borrowed a red-fringed scarf. Now he brushed his initials onto its rear fender out in the barn, then climbed onto the saddle. Suddenly he was no longer an ordinary small-town boy. On this machine, he would be a dashing, irresistible hero like those he saw flickering across the movie screen each night.
As chickens squawked and feathers flew, he practiced riding the bike around the barnyard. The whole family watched as, decked in goggles, cap, and gloves, the red scarf fluttering around his neck, he finally struck out on the road that ran along the Ohio River. His destination was the home of thirteen-year-old Bennie Gibbs, with her flawless skin and sparkling eyes.
Tom Lyle knew he cut an impressive figure as he sped past the old red brick courthouse, the library, and Morganfield's town square with its big American flag flying high. He zoomed along at a breathtaking thirty-five miles per hour, then accelerated to forty, passing fields of tobacco and hay, fruit orchards and pastures, feeling the glory of the ride down to his toes. In a mere twenty minutes, he covered the twelve miles to Millburn where Bennie lived.
Bennie heard the bike and slipped away from her chores to come out and greet him. Her mother wouldn't allow her to get on 'that contraption,' so Tom Lyle parked the bike and the young couple wandered away on foot, holding hands as they strolled past the rose bushes and the massive cottonwood trees. Almost accidentally, they kissed for the first time. The afternoon slipped blissfully past, until Tom Lyle noticed the position of the sun.
'Oh, gosh, I have to get home!' he cried. 'I can't be late for dinner.'
'Not even a minute?' Bennie asked.
'Not even a second.' He began hauling her back toward her house by the hand. 'My father's very strict about the family eating together. I don't want to get thrown in jail!'
'Jail?' Bennie said.
'Don't forget, Dad's the Morganfield Sheriff as well as a farmer.'
'But . . . jail? His own son?'
Tom Lyle laughed.
'My brother Preston's already been there twiceonce for stealing chicken eggs as a prank and another time for neglecting his chores on purpose.'
'But that's terrible!'
'Not for Preston. He just sat around reading dime novels about the Old West and ignoring Dad's lectures. But I've got a motorcycle to worry aboutmy folks are already upset I bought it in the first place.'
'When will I see you again?' Bennie asked, as he released her hand in front of her house.
'Soon, if I make it home in time for dinner. Pray for me!' And he leaped on the motorcycle and kicked the engine alive.
'Take the old Cummings road!' Bennie yelled through a cloud of blue smoke. 'It's shorter!'
In his rearview mirror, Tom Lyle saw her waving her hankie and blowing him a kiss.
He urged the bike to nearly fifty miles per hour down the tree-lined dirt road. He made good time until, some distance ahead, he saw a muddy little gulch cutting across the road. Decision time. He could turn around and find another route; he could stop and try to muscle the heavy bike across the gap; or . . . well, surely this was where a motorcycle held an advantage over a car. . . .
He opened the throttle as wide as it would go, felt the bike sail miraculously free of the ground, and . . . crashed.
When he raised his head from the dust, coughing and groaning, he saw the Indian lying across the road in a battered, mud-smeared heap.
He himself had suffered only a few scrapes and bruises, but the bike wouldn't start. He managed to half-walk, half-drag it the remaining distance home, crestfallen, hurting, muddy . . . and late.
TJ was sitting on the porch, a toothpick in his mouth. Once he ascertained that his son was in one piece, he exploded. 'Goddamn it, Tommy Lyle! You scared your mother half to death! You will get rid of that infernal piss-ant death trap.'
'Yes, sir,' Tom Lyle said.
But he didn't. The same determination that would serve him well throughout his life impelled him to lock himself in the family barn with the machine, take it apart, clean it, straighten what needed to be straightened, and put it all back together.
When he rolled the resurrected machine out of the barn, his parents gaped.
'That thing still runs?' TJ asked.
'Yes, sir, it does. I mean to sell it.'
TJ circled the bike, running his hands over the paint, then slapped Tom Lyle on the shoulder. 'Well, I guess you've earned the right to keep it if you want.'
Susan shot her husband a warning look. 'You mean he can keep it if . . .'
'If you give us your word you won't pull any more damn-fool stunts like you did last time,' TJ said.
'You have my word,' Tom Lyle said.
That was another thing about Tom Lyle: he was a man of his word. For another year, he rode the bike, a rolling trophy of his persistence and business skills. But it did nothing to enhance his image in Morganfield. Townsfolk gossiped that he had been a show-off ever since he was five and hung up posters billing himself as 'Tommy Lyle, the Great-Actor-Bat' to advertise the first of many 'shows' he and his little sister Eva performed. Instead of praising his talent, energy, and gumption, people wrote him off as 'a dreamer.' All the noisy motor bike did was add new pejoratives to the list: 'flashy,' 'flighty,' 'vain.'
Tom Lyle ignored the talk as best he could but vowed he would show them all someday.
In fact, he was thinking about the future more and more nowadays, as he fell in love with Bennie Gibbs. He bought her trinkets and carved their initials in the big oak tree by the one-room schoolhouse. He and she began stealing away to meet in secluded places. This was wonderful, but as usual, Tom Lyle wanted more.
For her birthday, his goal was to give his girl a real surprise, so he went straight to the Sears catalogue. There was a ring set with a dark bloodstoneDecember's birth gembut that wouldn't serve the dual purpose he had in mind. Instead, he selected a sparkling ruby in a setting of fourteen karat gold.
Two days before Christmas, the day Bennie turned fourteen, he presented the ring to her over cherry colas at the new soda fountain, where gooseneck handles dispensed 'health-giving' carbonated water. Bennie blushed as she slid the ring onto her finger. 'This is just the beginning,' he assured her. 'I've got three hundred dollars in savings, and I promise you, I'm going to turn it into a fortune.'
'I believe you, Tom Lyle,' Bennie said, then hesitated. Her parents' opinion of her boyfriend wasn't much better than that of most people in town. 'But how?'
'Look at this.' He whipped out a pamphlet that described the profitability of harvesting vegetables in Florida during its extended growing season and selling them for fantastic profits in the still-wintry North. When she looked puzzled, he clutched her hands. 'I just want you to know that one of these days, I'll be able to support you. You understand?'
She believed she did and smiled, gripping his fingers tightly.
Although what happened next was never discussed in detail by anyone, including Tom Lyle, I can visualize it. Three weeks later, on Tom Lyle's sixteenth birthday, I imagine him and Bennie sneaking off to an abandoned log cabin or barn. I see snow on the ground and a fire inside. Whatever the exact setting, one thing is certain: on that day, fourteen-year-old Bennie Gibbs gave Tom Lyle the most wonderful present he had ever received.
. . . And several months later, she gave him something elsea piece of news delivered through tears and sobbing: she was pregnant. 'I'm so scared, Tommy Lyle. My daddy is real strict and religious. He'll just . . . kill me.'
Tom Lyle the dreamer, bursting with love and pride, didn't share her fear. Of course her father would be upseta daughter pregnant at fourteen and married to a sixteen-year-old Catholic boy! But for the sake of his grandchild, surely he would come around. 'Bennie,' Tom Lyle said, 'don't worry. I'll find a way to take care of you . . . and our baby.'
For practical advice he turned to his big brother Noel, always so steady and dependable. Noel's answer was simple: 'You must do the right thing by her, Tommy Lyle.'
This was the answer Tom Lyle wanted to hear. He asked Bennie to be his wife, and they hopped on the Indian and rode off to get married. I picture that April day as lovely and sunny. I imagine their euphoria as they reached the ferry that took them across the Ohio River, brown and swollen with spring rains, to Old Shawneetown in Illinois. Bennie knew there was a justice of the peace there because her own mother had gotten married in the historic trading town. It was far enough away from Morgantown that nobody would know who they were, or how young.
In a three-minute ceremony, the same eighty-two-year-old judge who'd required vows of her parents pronounced Tom Lyle and Bennie husband and wife.
The marriage didn't last much longer than the ceremony. When the newlyweds returned to Morganfield, the first place they went was Bennie's house, to tell her parents about their elopement.
Instead of offering congratulations, Mr. Gibbs, a strict Southern Baptist, grabbed a broomstick and charged at Tom Lyle. 'How dare you marry my daughter without my consent?' he roared, jabbing the young man out of the house. 'Do you actually think I'd allow my Bennie to marry a heathen Catholic? Get off my property and don't ever come back!'
The marriage was quickly annulled, but the other issue was not so easily erased. As Bennie's swelling belly became more obvious, she was sent off to live with her aunt in Ohio in hopes of keeping her condition a secret. Such hopes proved futile. Soon everyone in Morganfield knew what had happened between Bennie Gibbs and Tom Lyleand sure enough, the scandal both families had feared ensued. Whenever Tom Lyle entered Morganfield, he encountered cold silence or head-shaking contempt. He couldn't believe his situation. How had all his good intentions and studied charm led to such disastrous results?
When newspaper headlines blared TITANIC SINKS, he half wished he had been aboard the doomed vessel.
Since he no longer made the long trips on his motorcycle to see Bennie, he felt little joy in riding it and put it up for sale. After several weeks without an offer, he realized that nobody in Morganfield could afford the fifty dollars he was askingor else nobody wanted his bike.
One day at the barber shop, glumly paging through a copy of Popular Mechanics, he came to the classified ads . . . and had an idea. An idea nobody he knew had ever tried. Agonizing over the correct phrasing, he penned a fifteen-word 'motorcycle for sale' ad and sent it to the magazine, along with a dollar-fifty to pay for it.
He began checking the mailbox on a daily basis, certain his brainstorm would pay off in no time.
One evening, he sat through dinner stewing about the lack of response to his ad and didn't notice how unusually silent the table was. Only after TJ and Susan sent the other children from the room did he focus on his surroundings. His father and mother exchanged measured looks, then TJ brought up a familiar theme: 'This scandal about Bennie and the baby is hurting the rest of our family, Tom Lyle.'
Tom Lyle hung his head. 'I know, Papa. I'm sorry.'
'Our people came over on the Mayflower, you know; we've got a tradition to uphold. Why, my granddaddy Josiah was a magistrate while he farmed these five hundred acres.'
Tom Lyle had heard all this beforealthough never after his siblings had been sent away. He realized his mother was holding the family Bible, her tears dripping on a page displaying her family tree. 'Tom Lyle . . .' she said, 'I can't hold my head up in town anymore.'
He glanced back and forth between his parents. 'What are you saying?'
TJ leaned toward him. 'Son, we think it's best if you leave home. Leave Morganfield. Your brother Noel has a good job up in Chicago; you could go up there and stay with him, find your way up there. . . .'
The rest of the lecture was a blur. The injustice of being shunned filled Tom Lyle with shame, despair, and rage unlike anything he'd ever felt before. Hadn't he done the honorable thing, marrying Bennie with every intention of supporting her and their child? Was it his fault her parents had stripped him of that honor? He loved her, yet he was being robbed of his happiness . . . and now his birthright.
Everyone was against him.
Then something else happened that would change the course of my uncle's life: over the next couple of days, a dozen responses to his ad for the Indian arrivedeach containing a money order for fifty dollars. Of course he would have to return all but one, but the incredible fact remained: he could have sold twelve motorcycles with that single ad.
He dug out the pamphlet about Florida produce he'd shown Bennie and lost himself in its vivid portrayal of profits to be made. Photos showed crowds of bundled-up Northerners waiting in line at the market for so-called 'late vegetables' grown in the deep South. His parents wanted him to leave? Fine. But forget Chicago and some dreary railroad job like his brother'she'd go to Florida and get rich.
Anger and resentment solidified into resolve. Between the money he had saved and what he'd gotten for selling his bike, he had enough to make a success of himself. Then he'd win his Bennie back and be the husband and father he knew he could be.
The kind of father who would never send his son away in shame. . . .
At the far end of his first solo train trip, Tom Lyle stepped into the Florida heat and promptly used all his savings to purchase a vegetable tract outside Orlando. He persuaded a local fifteen-year-old boy to help him cultivate his first crop, and for several months he worked hard at farmingthe one thing he had been most certain that he did not want to do. But it would be worth it. When he returned Morganfield in glory, that would show the Gibbs family that he was a worthy son-in-lawand everyone else that he was no ne'er-do-well dreamer.
The crops were growing beautifully when he received a letter from Ohio announcing that baby Cecil Anderson Williams had been born to Bennie Gibbs on September 9, 1912. Tom was delighted to see that despite her father's furious objections, Bennie had put 'Williams' on the baby's birth certificate.
A month later, when the frosts set in up north, he and his assistant harvested their crop. That was when Tom Lyle learned that he had neglected to inquire about the cost of shipping produce up north. It was too high. He couldn't pay for shipping and still make a profit.
He lost everything.
Returning penniless to Morganfield took all the emotional reserves he could muster, but his parents seemed to think his banishment had done its job. His father discussed plans for Tom Lyle to help him run the farm and possibly even become a deputy sheriff in a few years.
Tom Lyle wasn't too keen on either ideaexcept that it meant he could be near Bennie and their son. That made it worth considering.
Meeting his own child the first time required a bit of romantic subterfuge. Because Tom Lyle was forbidden to set foot on the Gibbs farm, a friend named Lucy arranged for Bennie to come over to visit for a day. Bennie didn't know that Tom Lyle was also on his way, walking three miles through the rain carrying a bunch of flowers. When he knocked on the door, Lucy opened itand there behind her was beautiful Bennie, rocking and breast feeding their baby in the parlor. Tom Lyle dropped to his knees in front of her.
'You look like a goddess.'
Bennie sobbed as she swaddled the baby and held him out to his father.
Surely the love manifested in their child would bind them together forever.
Excerpted from The Maybelline Story by Sharrie Williams Copyright © 2010 by Sharrie Williams. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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What People are Saying About This
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
The Maybelline Story is an exciting true tale that takes us back in time and gives an insider's view into the genesis and building of a corporate giant—Maybelline. Tom Lyle, my grandfather—and the godfather of our family—made us all rich, in more ways than one! But it is hard for us to separate Maybelline from our family, because it was a family affair, literally. This is a story I lived, and a family I love. As wild a ride as it seems, and for as much drama as we created, it was a whole lot of fun! Enjoy this enticing saga.—Tom Lyle Williams III
Spanning four generations, The Maybelline Story traces the founding of one of the true great conglomerates that spawned the billion-dollar cosmetic industry, and reveals the glamour—and seedy underside—of sudden fortune and unrestrained vanity on the family dynasty behind it. —Tippi Hedren, actress and founder of the Shambala Preserve
A juicy story, an unbelievable account of the making of a mega-giant (Maybelline) and a cast of characters you won't believe! Funny, tragic, sad and hilarious, this book will be a great movie! –Marla Martenson, actress, author of Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker
An amazing and tragic story of a triumphant family.—Jane Velez-Mitchell, author, "I Want", and CNN host, "Issues"
An astonishing and juicy story, intriguing and entertaining as all get out! A real page-turner!—John St. Augustine, Oprah & Friends / Harpo Radio and author, Living an Uncommon Life: Essential Lessons from 21 Extraordinary People
Superb! An insider's view into the genesis of a corporate giant—and the wild ride behind it!—Alan Andrews Ragland, son of Maybelline legend 'Rags Ragland'
Meet the Author
Sharrie Williams, heir to the Maybelline legacy, is Tom Lyle Williams's grandniece and Evelyn Boecher Williams's granddaughter. Growing up in their homes, and steward of the vast Maybelline archives, Williams tells the story of the birth of the Maybelline empire and dishes intimate and never-before-told details about the fascinating family dynasty behind it.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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In the way that Rhett Butler ignored the criticism of his peers to carve his own destiny, Tom Lyle Williams shares similar grit and daring. But Rhett without Scarlet wouldn't be much of a story. Evelyn Williams provides the energy of an antagonist. Like Scarlet, we sometimes hate her and want to shake her, but sometimes, we must admit that we hold a grudging respect; we get a kick out of her and even occasionally, love her for her guts and tenacity, and certainly because she carved out a life for herself and insisted on having a voice, even if she was a fly in the ointment for others. The Maybelline story provides other kinds of classic literary satisfaction. 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 The Maybelline Story-which reads like a juicy novel, but is in fact a family memoir.
This is a spellbinding story of an individuals life goal created at an early age and his drive and tenacity to achieve that dream. His challenges and the difficulties encountered are many, yet his achievements are astounding and the effect on his family, close associates and friends are life altering.
This story is fascinating from beginning to end. It covers multiple generations of a family that came to Hollywood to share a beauty discovery that changed the industry, and offers the reader a first-hand glimpse into the ups and downs of a world based on appearance, ambitition and competition to reach and stay on top. The photos provide unique shots of some of the lead characters. The book concludes with valuable insight on how to live with fame and fortune and still retain individual spirit and character. Definitely worth the read.
I couldn't put the book down and neither could my girlfriend. There were so many interesting stories about the Maybelline Family that I didn't know about until now. This is truly a fascinating story that everyone will enjoy.
An immigrant who escaped the tyranny of Communist Romania, I survived my ordeal because of the devotion and values learned at the knees of my parents. In this story, the values learned focused on the world of artifice . . . also learned at the knees of their parents.but oh what a different legacy . . . an amazing story. -Aura Imbarus, author, Out of the Transylvania Night
The Maybelline Story is an interesting-and astonishing-account of the making of a mega-giant (Maybelline) and has a cast of characters you won't believe! Entertaining and insightful. -Charmaine Hammond, author, On Toby's Terms
A rich and colorful story. I guarantee you won't be able to put this book down! I only hope it goes to the big screen, and you can bet I'd like to play Evelyn! -Marla Martenson, author of Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker
Thank you Sharrie Williams for the respectful and thoughtful journey you have shared. I read the book with overwhelming wonder and angst to get to the next sequence of events. Your story is emotional, thoughtful, tragic, joyful too, and leaves a reader with clarity and conflict. All good! Amazing how far a moral compass can take you through life. Perseverance - despite the greed, the entitlement (Evelyn), the tragedies, you give the reader a sense of stability among the entire family, immediate and extended. Somehow there was a silver lining for this family, for some, that listened. This is a wonderful piece of history and hope that there is consideration to perhaps publish a business book focused on the ins and outs of Maybelline. I realize the reader received a fair perspective of the company, but wonder how businesses today would fair by following the business model created by your family. Your family truly was dynamic. I truly enjoyed getting to know this family through the pages. I hope in writing this book it has answered all your questions too. Thank you for writing this book.
What an amazing story! Loved this book! You will not want to put it down. Read it twice ! Very entertaining,educational and inspiring and I highly recommend it. One SPIRITED family, that is for sure!
This book was a real page turner. I couldnt put it down until my eyes were hurting! There is never a slow point in the book! Its nice to get an inside look into the creator of the Maybelline Company, and all the stories behind it!
The Maybelline Story is one that has left a lasting impression upon America, yet not many realize just how vital a role the cosmetic brand has played in shaping idealism today. The obsession with perfection is widely seen throughout Hollywood, as it was nearly 100 years ago. However, the obsession at that time did not reach the rest of society as it has today. Early cosmetic developers, such as founder Tom Lyle Williams of Maybelline INC. brought cosmetics to the everyday woman, pushing the idea that every woman, young and old, regardless of class, can obtain glamour and beauty with a simple swish of the eyes. That's where Maybelline got its start. Developed in a time where women were breaking away from being modest and obedient housewives, and starting to seek their right as legal voters and equals in society. The story captivates all audiences by its incredible survival through economic, social, and personal turmoil. The book takes you on a journey through 19th century America, and into the 21st century where Maybelline thrives as a billion-dollar Icon, the world's largest cosmetic brand. For Tom Lyle, the journey was not easy, as the brand tears his family and their world apart, yet brings them together to re-discover what they had before they had millions-each other.
Loved it! Fast moving, not a dull moment here. Everyone knows the name of Maybelline but nothing about the family that created the product. A great USA success story along with the downfall of many of the heirs.
The book tells not only the intriguing story of the Maybelline family, but aptly describes America in its "heyday" when the entrepreneur thrived and served to make this a great country. It is impressive how the author ties together the rise of the family business with all the current events of the times. The book completely holds your interest up to the exciting ending. Throughout the book it was inspiring to recognize the importance of family respect and loyalty and how it continues to shine through in the manner this memoir was written by Sharrie Williams. Great story and great writing!
They say truth is stranger than fiction. This book is packed with layers. It chronicles the growing of a business from the ground up, and takes us through the events of a century that influenced both the marketing of, and attitudes toward beauty and femininity. It also shares with us the complexities of family dynamics, and what happens to those who work hard for their wealth, and to those who inherit easy money. It illustrates the struggles to find one's own identity in the face of powerful influences. Ms. Williams' book is a definite page turner.
I received this book as a Christmas present as my friend knows I have a love of books written about early Hollywood. This is the best present that I received!! I read it in two days and hated that it had to end. What a spellbinding book the rise from poverty to great financial heights and all the drama that occured along the way. I especially liked reading what was going on in the world during each decade of the story. Highly recommended!
Hands down the best memoir I read in 2010. This was a wonderful treat in so many ways...strong characters, romance, mystery, glamour. An inspiring story of 'making it in America' that you just can't put down. I looked forward to curling up with this book and was sad when it ended. I hope the author, Sharrie Williams, fills us in with another book soon! And I can't wait to see this book made into a movie!
Well written extremely open personal account of important an historic makeup creator and his family.
Sharrie Williams tells it all in this effecient, fast paced ride through the 20 century. The reader feels like they're getting an inside view of her life within the Maybelline Family. This is a never before been told story about a private man, Tom Lyle Williams the founder of the Maybelline company and his wild and crazy family. The Maybelline Company provides a powerful background as the characters play out their drama center stage. My only complaint is I wanted more more more and was bumbed it ended. I hope Sharrie Williams comes out with part two and brings us up to date with her unbelievable family. If she never told her story it would have been lost for ever, an American institution now owned by L'Oreal Paris. You will be shocked by the ending.
Ms Williams...this is amazing for your first, and I hope not your last, novel. I've read this book a couple of times and enjoyed it more with each read. It is a peek at a way of life many of us can only imagine. The book was written so well, so descriptive, that I could picture Tom Lyle and the rest of his devoted family. I hope Ms Williams writes a sequel...would be interesting to know about the generations that came after. I would also love to see this novel become a movie.
Tom Lyle Williams achieved greatness in spite of insurmountable odds. You won't be able to put this book down.
Couldn't put it down--one juicy story after another! Really paints a picture of life in the fast lane in that era. Is it the next "Dallas?"
This is a fascinating story with a captivating cast of characters who seesaw between the highs of wild success and the lows of tragedy and intrigues. Spanning the worlds of cosmetic beauty and Hollywood glamour to the seedy underworld of murder and betrayal, I can promise it will inspire and entertain both men and women. It would make a great Christmas gift for the entrepreneur in your life. Read it, love it, hope for a sequel and wait for the movie. It's a can't miss.