The Maybelline Story and the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind It

The Maybelline Story and the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind It

by Sharrie Williams

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The Maybelline Story and the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind It by Sharrie Williams

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 a man whose vision rocketed him to success along with the woman held in his orbit, his brother’s wife, 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 arson murder—that even today remains unsolved.

A fascinating and inspiring story of secrecy, ambition, and luck; a tale both epic and intimate, alive with the clash, the hustle, the music, and dance of American enterprise.

“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

“Salacious! Engrossing! Destined for film!” —New York Post

Product Details

BN ID: 2940044752177
Publisher: Bettie Youngs Book Publishing Co.
Publication date: 07/30/2012
Sold by: Smashwords
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 775,854
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Sharrie Williams is Tom Lyle Williams's grandniece and Evelyn Boecher Williams's granddaughter.

Dr. Bettie Youngs is the author of 24 books published in 28 languages.

Table of Contents


Foreword, by Alan Andrews Ragland

Introduction, by Michael A. Levine

Prologue: Smoke and Fire

Part I: An Idea Is Born (1912–1926)

1. Inventing Tom Lyle Williams

2. A Thousand Dimes a Day

3. A Secret from the Harem

4. The Little Red Box

5. The Return of a Different Man

6. Triangle

7. Geometry of the Heart

8. Leaving Chicago

9. Ring and Roses

10. The Godfather

Part II: The Eyes Have It: The Start of Something Big (1927–1936)

11. Doctor’s Orders, Darling

12. The Stetson

13. This, You Gotta See

14. The Business of Family

15. The Deal

16. Who’s Virginia?

17. Miss Maybelline and Mr. Hyde

18. Crash

19. Buddy, Can You Spare $30,000?

20. After the Roar

21. Brave Fronts

22. Rags and Riches

23. The Prodigal

24. Oh, Preston . . .

25. Paradise West

26. The Man in the Llama Coat

Part III: The Third Front (1937–1949)

27. Miss Mom

28. Miss Maybelline Is Back . . . Sort Of

29. True Confessions

30. Technicolor

31. The Girl Who Was Not a Dame

32. Plaid Skirt Meets Silk Kimono

33. Black Velvet Meets Apron

34. “I’ll Never Smile Again”

35. Chica Chica Boom Chic

36. Shattered

37. “We Interrupt This Program . . .”

38. Miss Gold Digger Meets Mr. Gold

39. Private Feud and World War

40. “Most of You Will Be Killed”

41. A Queen and a Princess

42. Gardenias

Part IV: Fantasy vs. Reality (1950–1969)

43. Rio and Reds

44. Cover-Up

45. Maybelline, Inc.

46. Searching for a Niche

47. Taking Stock

48. Jockeying for Position

49. Cracks in the Dam

50. A Model Family Member

51. Reliving the Past

Part V: Miss Maybelline Reborn (1970–1979)

52. Many a Wreck

53. The Wedding(s) of the Year

54. Deeds and Misdeeds

55. Trials

56. The Rise and Fall of Royalty

57. Glory

58. Finishing Touches

59. Showtime

60. Burning Love

61. Ashes, Ashes

Epilogue (1980–Present)

Book Club Discussion Questions

Customer Reviews

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Maybelline Story: and the Spirited Family Dynasty Behind It 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
kairex More than 1 year ago
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.
EJF More than 1 year ago
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.
TheresaWest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
AuraImbarus More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
CKastner More than 1 year ago
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.
Paris33 More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
CarolynnKS More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
JGast More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BMCM More than 1 year ago
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.
bbdollCA More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
penny100 More than 1 year ago
Well written extremely open personal account of important an historic makeup creator and his family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
bellba More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tom Lyle Williams achieved greatness in spite of insurmountable odds. You won't be able to put this book down.
Sealy More than 1 year ago
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?"