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“The Mad Search for Beauty”: Actresses' Testimonials, the Cosmetics Industry, and the “Democratization of Beauty”1

  • Marlis Schweitzer (a1)

“Actresses as a rule know no more about making themselves beautiful than does the average woman; neither are they naturally more beautiful,” wrote actress Margaret Illington Banes in a 1912 article entitled “The Mad Search for Beauty.” “The truth of the matter is,” she continued, “that no actress—or any woman—can impart the secrets of beauty to another, any more than the rich man can impart the secrets of business success to some other man.” Disturbed by recent trends in the theatrical profession that required actresses to present themselves as “beauty specialists,” Banes sought to expose the constructed nature of their on- and offstage performances. Stage stars captivated audiences because they had numerous opportunities to appear onstage dressed in the height of style; “under the same circumstances,” she concluded, most women “would look quite as well.”

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2 Banes, Margaret Illington, “The Mad Search for Beauty: And the Slight Chance that the Average Actress Can Guide the Average Woman,” The Green Book Magazine, May 1912, 953 .

3 Banes, Illington, “The Mad Search for Beauty,” 956 .

4 Nowlan, Philip Francis, “Warding Off Saturation Point by Changing Advertising Appeal,” Printers 'Ink, September 20, 1917, 2728 .

5 Perhaps one of the most surprising absences from this list of products is ready-to-wear fashion. Although clothing manufacturers occasionally promoted cheap, ready-to-wear versions of a dress or coat worn by an actress onstage, actresses generally did not promote specific dress fashions. This absence is explained in part by ready-to-wear's status in this period. As fashion historian Rob Schorman explains, predominant turn-of-the-century gender ideologies that emphasized the importance of clothing as an expression of female individuality discouraged women from adopting ready-to-wear fashions long after men had accepted this form of clothing, even after 1910 when most items of clothing were available ready-made. Ready-to-wear clothing was also frequently dismissed for its poor quality and strong association with the immigrant working class. Women who viewed themselves as fashionable often preferred to make their own clothes along the lines of the latest styles than wear shoddy, factory-produced garments. On ready-to-wear fashion, see Schorman, Rob, Selling Style: Clothing and Social Change at the Turn of the Century (Philadelphia, 2003), esp. 5157 ; Kidwell, Claudia B. and Christman, Margaret C., Suiting Everyone: The Democratization of Clothing in America (Washington, 1974), 137 ; Burman, Barbara, “Made at Home by Clever Fingers: Home Dressmaking in Edwardian England,” The Culture of Sewing: Gender, Consumption and Home Dressmaking, ed. Burman, Barbara (Oxford, 1999), 35, 49 ; Enstad, Nan, Ladies of Labor, Girls of Adventure: Working Women, Popular Culture, and Labor Politics at the Turn of the Twentieth Century (New York, 1999), 6169 .

6 Susan A. Glenn and M. Alison Kibler offer compelling arguments to suggest that the turn-of-the-century American theater was an active site of gender struggle between female women, and male producers, who wanted to use female spectacle to establish theatrical empires. Glenn, Susan A., Female Spectacle: The Theatrical Roots of Modern Feminism (Cambridge, Mass., 2000) ; Kibler, M. Alison, Rank Ladies: Gender and Cultural Hierarchy in American Vaudeville (Chapel Hill, 1999) . See also Buszek, Maria Elena, “Representing ‘Awarishness’: Burlesque, Feminist Transgression, and the Nineteenth-Century Pin-up,” The Drama Review 43 (winter 1999): 141–61 ; Goddard, Leslie, “‘Women Know Her to Be a Real Woman’: Femininity, Nationalism, and the Suffrage Activism of Lillian Russell,” Theatre History Studies 22 (June 2002): 137154 . For more on American actresses in the nineteenth and early twentieth century see Auster, Albert, Actresses and Suffragists: Women in the American Theatre, 1890-1920 New York, 1984) ; McArthur, Benjamin, Actors and American Culture, 1880-1920 (Philadelphia, 1984) ; Dudden, Faye E., Women in the American Theatre: Actresses and Audiences 1790-1870 (New York 1990) .

7 Contemporary fashion scholarship has identified the ways that fashion products like cosmetics act as tools for self-creation and self-transformation, arguing that they enable women to experiment with gender identity and “try on” new looks and behavior. It is therefore striking to observe the degree to which cosmetic advertisements from the 1910s promote cosmetics as aids to a woman's pre-existing beauty/body. See Peiss, Kathy, Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture (New York, 1998) ; Berry, Sarah, Screen Style: Fashion and Femininity in 1930s Hollywood (Minneapolis, 2000) ; Wilson, Elizabeth, Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity (New Brunswick, 1985) ; Steele, Valerie, Fashion and Eroticism: Ideals of Feminine Beautyfrom the Victorian through the Jazz Era (New York, 1985) ; Davis, Fred, Fashion Culture, and Identity (Chicago, 1992) ; Entwisde, Joanne, The Fashioned Body: Fashion, Dress and Modern Social Theory (Oxford, 2000) .

8 Whereas advertisements for makeup and other beauty products in the 1930s emphasized a star's glamorous “makeover” from small town girl to screen siren, early cosmetics advertisements purposefully obscured the construction of the actress's beauty, suggesting instead that cosmetics merely enhanced her natural appearance. Although some early advertisements allude to the possibility of transformation, it is my contention that most companies were wary of promoting “makeover” transformations. For more on the Hollywood “makeover” in the 1930s see , Berry, Screen Style, 94141 ; , Peiss, Hope in a Jar, 146–51 .

9 On “cartomania” and theater photography in the late nineteenth century, see Thomas, Alan, “Players and Beauties” in The Expanding Eye: Photographyand the Nineteenth Century Mind (London, 1978): 99116 ; Bassham, Ben L., The Theatrical Photographs of Napoleon Sarony (Kent, Ohio, 1982) ; Darrah, William C., Cartes de Visite in Nineteenth Century Photography (Gettysburg, Penn., 1981) ; McCandless, Barbara, “The Portrait Studio and the Celebrity” in Photography in Nineteenth Century America, ed. Sandweiss, Martha (New York, 1991): 4975 ; Se-nelick, Laurence, “Eroticism in Early Theatrical Photography,” Theatre History Studies 11 (1991): 149 ; , Buszek, “Representing ‘Awarishness,’” 141–61 .

10 Shakleton, Tim, Introduction, Bubbles: Early Advertising Art from A. F. Pears Ltd., ed. Dempsey, Mike, (London, 1978), 3 .

11 Rather, Lois, Two Lilies in America: Lillian Russell and Lily Langtry (Oakland, Calif., 1973), 50 . Langtry later explained that she had named this price because it matched her weight at the time; other accounts suggest that she did not receive any payment for her endorsement. See , Shakleton, “Introduction,” Bubbles, 3 .

12 New York photographer Napoleon Sarony reportedly paid Langtry $5,000 for a single sitting. , McCandless, “The Portrait Studio and the Celebrity,” 67 . In 1884 Langtry's endorsement of Pears' was the subject of a parody in Punch magazine that almost became as famous as the original. See , Dempsey, Rubbles, 48 . For more on the use of actresses in the Pears' campaign see Caldwell, Sherry J., “Clean and Sober: Women Celebrity Endorsers and the 1883 Pears' Soap Campaign,” Theatre Symposium: Representations of Gender on the Nineteenth-Century American Stage 10 (Tuscaloosa, Ala., 2002): 100–13 .

13 , Rather, Two Lilies in America, 50 .

14 Kathy Peiss uses the term “makeup” to refer to products such as rouge and tinted face powder that could dramatically alter appearance. “Invisible” cosmetics like cold cream were less threatening than “makeup.” See , Peiss, Hope in a Jar, 26-31, 53, 56 .

15 For more on the association between actresses and prostitutes see Johnson, Claudia D., “That Guilty Third Tier,” in Victorian America, eds. Blodgett, Geoffrey and Howe, Daniel Walker (Philadelphia, 1976), 111–20 ; , Johnson, “Enter the Harlot,” in American Actress: Perspec tive on the Nineteenth Century (Chicago, 1984), 336 ; , Dudden, Women in the American Theatre, 926 ; Johnson, Katie N., “Zaza: That ‘Obtruding Harlot’ of the Stage,” Theatre Journal 54 (2002): 223–43 . On associations between nineteenth-century (British) actresses and pornography, see Davis, Tracy C., “The Actress in Victorian Pornography,” Theatre Journal 41 (October 1989): 294315 .

16 , Auster, Actresses and Suffragists, 18 .

17 See Welter, Barbara, “The Cult of True Womanhood, 1820-1860” in The American Family in Social-Historical Perspective, ed. Gordon, Michael (New York, 1978), 224250 . welter's seminal essay influenced an entire generation of historians but has been criticized for its narrow focus on white, northern, middle-class women. In 2002 a series of articles in the Journal of Women's History reexamined welter's essay and concluded that despite its flaws, it continued to provide “a point of departure” for ongoing research into nineteenth-century gender ideologies. See Journal of Women's History 14 (spring 2002) . Elizabeth Reitz-Mullenix uses the concept of True Womanhood to offer a persuasive analysis of American middle-class anxiety towards the nineteenth century actress, the archetypal “false” woman. Mullenix, Elizabeth Reitz, “So Unfemininely Masculine’: Discourse, True/False Womanhood, and the American Career of Fanny Kemble,” Theatre Survey 40 (November 1999): 105–22 .

18 , Mullenix, “‘So Unfemininely Masculine,’” 30 .

19 For critical reassessments of “separate spheres” ideology, see Stansell, Christine, “Women, Children, and the Uses of the Streets: Class and Gender Conflict in New York City, 1850-1860,” Feminist Studies 8 (summer 1982): 310–35 ; , Stansell, City of Women: Sex and Class in New York: 1789-1860 (1982; Chicago, 1987) ; Wolff, Janet, Feminine Sentences: Essays on Women and Culture (Oxford, 1990) ; eds. Helly, Dorothy O. and Reverby, Susan M, Gendered Domains: Rethinking Public and Private in Women's History (Idiaca, 1992) . For a discussion of gender roles within the context of the mid-nineteenth-century culture of sensibility see Haltunnen, Karen, Confidence Men and Painted Women: A Study of Middle-class Culture in America (New Haven, 1982) .

20 , Mullenix, “‘So Unfemininely Masculine,’” 28, 30 . , Johnson, American Actress, 2833 .

21 , Johnson, American Actress, 3033 .

22 , Haltunnen, Confidence Men and Fainted Women, 40, 57 . Mary Louise Roberts offers an insightful discussion of the actress's questionable status in early-twentieth-century France, as part of a larger analysis of the New Woman. See Roberts, Mary Louise, Disruptive Acts: The New Woman in Fin-de-Sieck France (Chicago, 2002), esp. 5457 . On actresses and antitheatrical-ism, see Barish, Jonas, The Antitheatrical Prejudice (Berkeley, 1981), 2, 88, 282-89, 466 .

23 For an in-depth discussion of nineteenth-century attitudes towards cosmetics see , Hal-tunnen, Confidence Men and Painted Women, esp. 5691 ; , Peiss, Hope in a Jar, 960 .

24 Printers' Ink: A journal for Advertisers—Fifty Years, 1888-1938, July 28, 1938, 111 . During the late 1880s and 1890s, chromolithographed images of actresses appeared on mass-produced trade cards used to advertise everything from booksellers, plumbers, wigmakers, and grocers to tea, soap, patterns, boots, shoes, and patent medicines; although these trade cards were not testimonials in the truest sense of the word, the actress's image nevertheless served as an implicit endorsement of the product. See Folder 6, Box 2, “Dentistry”; Folder 8, Box 1, “Chewing Gum”; Folder labeled “Advertising Cards,” Box 15, “Theater,” Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Behring Center, Smithsonian Institution [hereafter NMAH]. For more on trade card advertising see Jay, Robert, The Trade Card in Nineteenth-Century America (Columbia, S.C., 1987) .

25 Irwin Leslie Gordon, ed., Who Was Who: 5000 B.C. to Date: Biographical Dictionary of the Famous and Those Who Wanted to Be, as included by Jone Johnson Lewis on “Women's History—Humorous Biographies,” <>.

26 “Patti, Adelina,” Box 12, Theater, Warshaw, NMAH.

27 To my knowledge, very little has been written about these scandals, although there seems to be a tacit assumption among advertising historians that they occurred. While I have not come across any primary documentation to explain what sparked the scandals, the Printers' Ink collection refers to them several times and advertising historian Stephen Fox alludes to the testimonial's “lingering unsavory association with patent medicines.” See Printer's Ink, A Journal for Advertisers-Fifty Years, 1888-1938, July 28, 1938, 111, 370 ; Fox, Stephen, The Mirror Makers: A History of American Advertising and Its Creators (New York, 1984), 88 .

28 In my survey of popular magazines from the late 1890s and early 1900s, Sozodont and Vin Mariani seem to be the most prominent users of testimonial advertisements, although other companies continued to use testimonials in other advertising mediums (i.e. newspapers and trade cards). “I consider Sozodont a peerless dentifrice,” [ad] The Ladies' Home journal [hereafter LHJ] (April 1898), 27 ; Vin Mariani,” [ad] The Theatre 1 (August 1901) , inside cover. “Theater,” “Actresses,” Box 14, Warshaw, NMAH.

29 Printers' Ink A Journal for Advertisers—Fifty Years, 1888-1938, July 28, 1938, 118 .

30 , Lears, Fables of Abundance, 8990 . For more on the professionalization of the advertising industry, see Laird, Pamela Walker, Advertising Progress: American Business and the Rise of Consumer Marketing (Baltimore, 1998), esp. chs. 57 ; Strasser, Susan, Satisfaction Guaranteed: The Making of the American Mass Market (Washington, 1989), esp. chs. 45 . For more on the history of advertising, see , Fox, The Mirror Makers, Michael Schudson, Advertising: The Uneasy Persuasion (New York, 1984) ; Marchand, Roland, Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity, 1920-1940 (Berkeley, 1985) ; Tedlow, Richard S., New and Improved: The Story of Mass Marketing in America (New York, 1990) .

31 Hurd, Charles W., “Different Uses of the Testimonial,” Printers' Ink, August 28, 1913, 40 . I wish to thank Charles McGovern for first pointing out this interesting connection between trade characters and testimonials.

32 Huntsman, R.F.R. and Walthouser, B.D., “Are Pretty Women Pictures Good Advertising?” Printers' Ink, August 11, 1909, 8 ; Colgate, William G., “‘Pretty’ Pictures in Copy Becoming Passe,” Printers' Ink, September 15, 1910, 6266 ; Jones, L.B., “The Photograph in Display Advertising,” Printers' Ink, May 4, 1910, 37 . For more on the debate between photography and illustration see Brown, Elspeth H., “Rationalizing Consumption: Lejaren à Hiller, and the Origins of American Advertising Photography, 1913-1924,” Enterprise & Society 1 (December 2000): 715–38 .

33 Egbert, James W., “What Makes a Good Testimonial: A Discussion of the Kinds of People Whose Names are Worth Having as Endorsements,” Printers' Ink, October 12, 1911, 44, 46 ; , Hurd, “Different Uses of the Testimonial,” 34 .

34 For more on the rise of the actor and actress in the late nineteenth century, see McArthur, Actors andAmerican Culture .

35 , Peiss, Hope in a Jar, 38 .

36 Elsie de Wolfe, vol. 161, p. 20–1, Robinson Locke Collection, Billy Rose Theatre Collection, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts [hereafter RLC, BRTC]; Anna Held, vol. 264, p. 112, RLC, BRTC.

37 “Gowns Seen on the Stage,” Harper's Bazar, July 1913, 5354 ; [Ad for LHJ] The Delineator, Nov. 1913, 72 .

38 Brady, Alice, “This Business of Dressing: Should You ”Wrap You Clothes Around You' or Should You Put Them On?” The Green Book Magazine (September 1915): 484–90 .

39 Peiss, Kathy, Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York (Philadelphia, 1986), 6 .

40 The hesitancy expressed by several advertising agents about using actresses as endorsers suggests that while attitudes towards actors and actresses had shifted dramatically from the 1890s, some conservative middle-class men and women remained skeptical about the morality of the stage. Egbert, James W, “What Makes a Good Testimonial,” 44 ; “Pianists' Endorsements,” Printers' Ink, November 27, 1911, 30 ; Wright, Lynn G., “Giving References for Your Product,” Printers' Ink, April 20, 1911, 910 ; , Egbert, “Making the Testimonial Worth More,” Printers' Ink, November 23, 1911, 76 .

41 , Egbert, “What Makes a Good Testimonial,” 44 ; , Nowlan, “Warding Off Saturation Point,” 27–8 .

42 Photographs of these lesser players did, however, continued to appear on cigarette cards and other advertisements targeted at men. “Chewing Gum,” Box, 1, Folder 8; “Theater,” Box 15, advertising cards, Warshaw, NMAH.

43 In 1916, ads for Pond's Vanishing Cream also began to feature film stars, including Marion Davies and Norma Talmadge, although stage performers continued to be the most prominent endorsers. On Mary Pickford and other Hollywood actresses, see , Peiss, Hope in a Jar, 126 ; “Free! Write for samples of these two creams today,” American Memory Project, library of Congress, <>; “Why every normal skin needs two creams,” Advertising Ephemera Collection, Emergence of Advertising On-Line Project, American Memory Project, Library of Congress, <>.

44 MOn early cinema audiences see Wilinsky, Barbara, “Flirting with Kathlyn: Creating the Mass Audience,” Hollywood Goes Shopping, 38 ; Sklar, Robert, Movie Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies (London, 1975) ; Peiss, Cheap Amusements; Fuller, Kathryn H., At the Picture Show: Small-Town Audiences and the Creation of Movie Fan Culture (Washington, 1997) ; Rabinovitz, Lauren, For the Love of Pleasure: Women, Movies, and Culture in Tum-ofthe-Century Chicago (New Brunswick, 1998) ; , Enstad, Ladies of Labor, Girls of Adventure, Shelley Stamp, Movie-Struck Girls: Women andMotion Picture Culture After the Nickelodeon (Princeton, 2000) .

45 On the development of the Hollywood star system see deCordova, Richard, “The Emergence of the Star System in America,” Wide Angle 6 (1985): 1011 and , deCordova, Picture Personalities: The Emergence of the Star System in America (Urbana, 1990) .

46 , Fuller, At the Picture Show, esp. chs. 7 and 8 ; Cohen-Stratyner, Barbara Naomi, “Fashion Fillers in Silent Film Periodicals,” Performing Arts Resources: Performances in Periodicals 14 (New York, 1989): 127–43 ; Stamp, Movie Struck Girls, 10-40.

47 On Hollywood actresses endorsing beauty products in the 1930s, see , Berry, “Hollywood Exoticism” in Hollywood Goes Shopping, 113 .

48 For more on Mary Pickford's career and rise to stardom, see Whitfield, Eileen, Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood (Toronto, 1997) ; Eyman, Scot, Mary Pickford: America's heart (New York, 1990) .

49 Stanley Resor, quoted in , Fox, The Mirror Makers, 90 . See also Resor, Stanley, “Personalities and the Public: Some Aspects of Testimonial Advertising,” News Bulletin no. 138 (April 1929): 17 ; ”Company Meeting on ‘Personality Advertising’, April 5, 1928 ; Box 4, Testimonial Advertising 1928-1977, J. Walter Thompson Information Center Records, JWT Collection, John W Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, & Marketing History, Duke University [hereafter Hartman Center].

50 Freeman, William M., The Big Name, (New York, 1957), 183 .

51 Alperstein, Neil M., “Imaginary Relationships with Celebrities Appearing in Television Commercials,” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media (winter 1991), 49 .

52 , Alperstein, “Imaginary Relationships,” 55 .

53 , Alperstein, “Imaginary Relationships,” 55, 44 . Alperstein's interpretation of spectators' relationships with celebrities draws upo n the work o f Schudson, Advertising: the Uneasy Persuasion; Reeves, J., “Television Stars: The Case of Mr. T,” in Television: The Critical View, 4th ed., ed. Newcomb, H. (New York, 1987), 445–54 .

54 , Alperstein, “Imaginary Relationships,” 50 .

55 After 1900, Rigaud, along with fellow Parisian perfumers Coty and Bourjois, hired a New York agent to help the company move into the American market and develop American subsidiaries. These companies played up their association with Parisian fashion and elegance to reach an upper-middle-class clientele. See , Peiss, Hope in a Jar, 98 . Griswold, Laurence W, “Value of a ‘Star's’ Name in Sales Plan,” Printers' Ink, January 22, 1914, 144 .

56 This display, which included lights and curtains run by electricity, cost several hundred dollars to stage and only lasted a few weeks because it could not be easily transported to the other cities where Elliott was appearing. Hurd, Charles W, “Putting the Dramatic Punch into Window Display,” Printers' Ink, December 16, 1915, 60 .

57 , Griswold, “Value of a ‘Star's’ Name,” 143, 146 . Griswold cites other examples of products named after celebrities including Billie Burke Chocolates and the Julia Marlowe Shoe.

58 Evidence also suggests that performers were occasionally compelled to endorse products as part of a business arrangement between theatrical management and an advertiser. Letter from Charles Daniel to [J.J.] Shubert, February 4, 1914, Shubert Archives, New York.

59 , Griswold, “Value of a ‘Star's’ Name,” 143 .

60 “Patent on a Name,” Printers' Ink, February 6, 1908, 8 .

61 , McArthur, Actors and American Culture, 150153 ; Harris, Neil, “Iconography and Intellectual History: The Half-Tone Effect,” in New Directions in American Intellectual History, ed. Conkin, Paul and Higham, John (Baltimore, 1979), 206–09 .

62 , Banes, “The Mad Search for Beauty” 956 .

63 Forbes-Robertson, Diana, My Aunt Maxim: The Story of Maxim Elliott (New York, 1964), 181 . Film actresses could be just as exacting. In 1916, “America's sweetheart” Mary Pickford received a reported 4,000 requests for permission to publish her photograph for advertising purposes before she finally agreed to allow the Pompeian Manufacturing Company, makers of cold cream and other beauty products, to use her image. Seventy poses were made before she was satisfied with the results and willing to release one photograph to the company. The approved image was reproduced in Pompeian's magazine print advertisements and a 1917 calendar. “Mary Pickford's Picture in the Ads,” Printers' Ink, April 1, 1916, 88 .

64 “Lillian Russell's Own Toilet Preparations,” [ad] Vanity Fair, January 1914, 87 .

65 “To the Women of America, by Lillian Russell” [ad], Harper's Bazar, April 1915, 69 .

66 Morell, Parker, Lillian Russell: The Era of Plush (Garden City, N.Y., 1943), 294–96 ; Fields, Armond, Lillian Russell: A Biography of “America's Beauty” (Jefferson, N.C., 1999), 190 .

67 , Griswold, “Value of a ‘Star's’ Name,” 147 .

68 , Griswold, “Value of a ‘Star's’ Name,” 147 .

69 Wood v, Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon, 222 N.Y. 88, 118 N.E. 214 (1917), <> .

70 “Addirional Note to Wood v. Lug, Lady Duff-Gordon, p. 36,” <>. See also “Sears-Roebuck's Latest Advertising Coup: Seeks to Wrest Fashion Prestige Away from New York Mail-Order Houses,” Printers' Ink, December 8, 1916, 7 . The Costume Library at the NMAH includes a “Portfolio of Lady Duff-Gordon's Original Designs,” for fall and winter 1916-17. Ads for Lucile's line of patterns appeared in The Ladies' Home Journal, Harper's Bazar, and Good Housekeeping between October 1916 and April 1917 . “Portfolio of Lady Duff Gordon's Original Designs,” (Sears, Roebuck and Co.), Trade Books, 1915-1918 , Costume Library, NMAH; “Lady Duff Gordon's ‘My Dream Girl Frock, [ad]’” LHJ, November 1916, 101 ; “Lady Duff-Gordon's Message to the Women of America [ad],” Harper's Bazar, October 1916, 100–01 ; “Three Original New Designs by Lady Duff-Gordon [ad],” Good Housekeeping, March 1917, 9091 .

71 Wood v. Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon.

72 In 1927 film actress Constance Talmadge appeared in testimonial advertisements for eight different products, ranging from alarm clocks to inner tubes, in a single issue of Liberty magazine. , Fox, The Mirror Makers, 115 ; Printer's Ink, A Journal for Advertisers—Fifty Years, 1888-1938, July 28, 1938, 370 .

73 The list of cosmetics companies includes Lablache Face Powder, Sutol, Sempre Gio-vine, Lora S. Gilman, Creme Nerol, Mme. Le Claire, Watkin's Mulsified Cocoanut Oil, Ri-gaud, Helena Rubinstein, The Importers Company, El Rado Dipilatory Cream, Swift & Co. (Maxine Elliott Toilet Soap), Julian Eltinge Cold Cream, Lillian Russell's Own Toilet Preparations, Peg O' My Heart Perfume, Pond's Vanishing Cream, and Cutex. Ads for the companies listed above appeared in the pages of Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazar, The Theatre Magazine, The Delineator, and LHJ between 1911 and 1918 .

74 Throughout the early twentieth century, many men and women nevertheless continued to promote the notion that physical beauty was an indication o f a pure and honest soul. In 1908 Sara A. Hubbard published The Duty of Being Beautiful, in which she encouraged readers to find the inner beauty in one another. See , Hubbard, The Duty of Being Beautiful (Chicago, 1908) .

75 , Peiss, Hope in a Jar, 59 .

76 For a discussion of the “democratization of beauty” as part of the twentieth-century “beauty myth,” see Currie, Dawn H., Girl Talk: Adolescent Magazines and Their Readers (Toronto, 1999), 3036 . For an analysis of the cosmetics industry's deployment of “the democratization of beauty” in the 1930s, see , Berry, Screen Style, 94141 . For more on the “democratization of desire” in department stores, see Leach, William, Land of Desire: Merchants, Power and the Rise of a New American Culture (New York, 1993) .

77 Kellerman, Annette, Physical Beauty: How to Keep It (New York, 1918), 16 .

78 Held, Anna, “‘Make-up’-on the Street and on the Stage: Hints for the Woman at Her Dressing-Table,” The Green Book Magazine (February 1916), 331 .

79 Archbald, Anne, “A Plea for Make-up (No. 1),” The Theatre Magazine, April 1917, 238 . The actresses' emphasis on the importance of self-improvement is consistent with the emergence of what T.J. Jackson Lears calls the “therapeutic ethos” at the turn of the century. See , Lears, No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture 1880-1920 (Chicago, 1981) and “From Salvation to Self-Realization: Advertising and the Therapeutic Roots of the Consumer Culture, 1810-1930.” Culture of Consumption: Critical Essays in American History, 1880-1980, ed. Lears, T.J. Jackson and Fox, Richard Wightman, (New York, 1983), 338 .

80 , PeissHope in a Jar, 53, 56 .

81 As early as 1903, Vogue advised its readers where they could find “undetectable rouges.” This more progressive approach to “making up” reflected the demographic composition of its readership. Vogue's upper-middle-class readers were more likely to experiment with beauty products than the predominandy middle-class readers of The Ladies' Home Journal or the Woman's Home Companion. See Corson, Richard, Fashions in Makeup, From Ancient to Modern Times (London, 1972), 410 ; , Peiss, Hope in a Jar, 50, 104-05, 123 . For more on the history of women's magazines in the late nineteenth and early-twentieth century see Damon-Moore, Helen, Magazines for the Millions: Gender and Commerce in The Ladies' Home Journal and The Saturday Evening Post, 1880-1910 (Albany, 1994) ; Schneirov, Matthew, The Dream of a New Social Order: Popular Magazines in America, 1893-1914 (New York, 1994) ; Scanlon, Jennifer, Inarticulate Longings: The Ladies' Home Journal, Gender, and the Promises of Consumer Culture (New York, 1995) ; Garvey, Ellen Gruber, The Adman in the Parlor: Magazines and the Gendering of Consumer Culture, 1880s to 1910 (New York, 1996) ; Ohmann, Richard M., Selling Culture: Magazines, Markets, and Class at the Turn of the Century (London, 1996) .

82 Janis, Elsie, “My Campaign for Good Looks,” The Delineator, February 1911, 128 .

83 Some actresses may also have felt pressured to accord with the Delineator's own conservative stance towards cosmetics. In fact, in the entire Delineator series, only two women—Billie Burke and Christie MacDonald-—ffered detailed suggestions for selecting and applying cosmetics. Garden, Mary, “My Working Theory of Beauty,” The Delineator, March 1911, 230 ; Elliott, Maxine, “Keeping Young and Fresh,” The Delineator, April 1911, 337–38 ; Terry, Ellen, “The Woman of Charm,” The Delineator, May 1911, 428 ; Burke, Billie, “My Simple Rules for Beauty,” The Delineator, June 1911, 510 ; MacDonald, Christie, “Good Complexions,” The Delineator, September 1911, 204 .

84 Unlike women's magazines, most daily newspapers were more than willing to give their female readers the detailed beauty advice they craved, and while they maintained a generally ambivalent attitude about the morality of cosmetics, they also provided ample opportunity for women to learn about them. See , Peiss, Hope in a Jar, 50-51, 123 .

85 Schorer, Eleanor, “‘Making Up’ With Stage Stars-IV. Laurette Taylor,” the Evening World, March [nd], 1913 , Laurette Taylor, vol. 451, 86, RLC, BRTC.

86 Schorer, Eleanor, “’Making Up’ With Stage Stars-VII. Jane Cowl,” the Evening World April 28, 1913 . Jane Cowl, vol. 131, p. 99, RLC, BRTC.

87 t I is worth noting that none of the actresses interviewed by the New York World admitted to using cosmetics offstage, nor did Schorer ask them about it. This careful omission suggests that that the context of the articles—interviews with professional artists about the skills they have developed through years of careful study and practice—may have been a factor in the actresses' willingness to discuss their makeup techniques. While the interviews implicitly promoted the use of makeup, the contextual framework served to distance the actresses from any negative associations with the working women reading the articles.

88 , Peiss, Hope in a Jar, 55 .

89 Other magazines and newspapers soon introduced their own versions of these articles. For example, in 1916 Motion Picture introduced a beauty column just as film actresses started to make testimonial appearances in cosmetics advertisements. See , Peiss, Hope in a Jar, 124 ; Cohen-Stratyner, “Fashion Fillers”; , Fuller, At the Picture Show, 154–59 .

90 , PeissHope in a Jar, 105 .

91 n I fact, several female performers, including Billie Burke, Anna Pavlova, Frances Starr, and Maxine Elliott, endorsed more than one beauty product at the same time. These multiple appearances were reminiscent of the testimonial scandals of the 1890s; in most cases, advertisers could do little to stop actresses from doing as they wished. See “The Face Beautiful” [ad for Creme Nerol], Vogue, October 15, 1911, 69 ; “Women Who Have the World at Their Feet Unite in Praise of Valaze” [ad for Helena Rubinstein], Vanity Fair, December 1915, 99 ; “For a Clear Complexion Maxine Elliott Toilet Soap,” [ad] The Theatre Magazine Advertiser, June 1911, vi ; “Free/Write for samples of these two creams” [ad for Pond's], LHJ, November 1916, 85 ; “Why your skin needs two creams,” Advertising Ephemera Collection, Emergence of Advertising On-line Project, Hartman Center, <>.

92 , Peiss, Hope in a Jar, 105 ; , Corson, Fashions in Makeup, 410 .

93 In addition to appearing in advertisements for fashion and beauty products throughout the 1910s, actresses also posed as models for leading fashion magazines including Vogue and Harper's Bazar, often in special sections devoted to stage fashions. Edna Woolman Chase and Ilka Chase, Always in Vogue (New York, 1954), 132 . For more on fashion photography in this period see Hall-Duncan, Nancy, The History of Fashion Photography (New York, 1979), 14, 32, 40 ; Widener, F.J., “Clothing Truths and Fashion Plate Fictions,” Printers' Ink, December 8, 1910, 54 .

94 “The Face Beautiful and Créme Nerol,” [ad] Vogue (15 Oct. 1911): 69 . The Créme Nerol campaign ran for several years (at least until 1918) in the pages of Vogue and Vanity Fair, with the occasional new name appearing among the list of established stars.

95 Like Créme Nerol, most of these campaigns were primarily targeted at society women, as the price of the products (e.g. jars of Helena Rubinstein's Valaze ranged from $1.00 to $6.00) and their appearance in Vogue, Harper's Baspr, and other “class” magazines suggests.

96 Ads for Helena Rubinstein include references to Valaze Complexion Powder and Novena Poudre, and Lillian Russell's Own Toilet Preparations included “My Face Powder” and “My lip Rouge.” See “Women Who Have the World at Their Feet Unite in Praise of Valaze” [ad for Helena Rubinstein], Vanity Fair, December 1915, 99 ; “Lillian Russell's Own Toilet Preparations,” [ad] The Theatre Magazine Advertiser, January 1914, 55 .

97 “Le Secret Gaby Deslys” [ad], The Theatre Magazine Advertiser (June 1912), 6 .

98 , Peiss, Hope In a Jar, 121–22 .

99 For example see , Peiss, Hope in a Jar, 126, 137–40 ; , Fox, The Mirror Makers, 88, 90 . Jennifer Scanlon offers a detailed account of Helen Resor and other female copywriters who worked for the J. Walter Thompson Company in the early twentieth century, and discusses their involvement in a number of key campaigns, including Pond's and Woodbury's Facial Soap. See , Scanlon, “Advertising Women: The J. Walter Thompson Company Women's Editorial Department,” in Inarticulate Longings, 169–98 .

100 The ads also featured a highlighted list of prominent users including Mrs. Fiske, Julia Sanderson, Julie Opp, Rose Stahl, and Jane Cowl. “Send 4 cents for two weeks' supply. See for yourself what one application will do!” Advertising Ephemera Collection, Emergence of Advertising On-line Project, <>. Testimonials were nothing new for Pond's. As early as 1907, actresses' testimonials were used in London newspapers to promote Pond's Vanishing Cream. However, there is no record of similar advertisements being used in the United States. Advertising Ephemera Collection, Emergence of Advertising On-line Project, <>; Advertising Ephemera Collection, Emergence of Advertising On-line Project, <>.

101 Ellen Gartrell, “More about the Pond's Collection,” Emergence of Advertising Online Project, <>.

I was unable to find any direct evidence to support this theory in the J. Walter Thompson business archives at the Hartman Center. However, the fact that the actresses remain an important focus of the campaign, and in fact, take on a more prominent position in the ads, seems to corroborate my argument.

102 “Gleaming, soft, smooth skin (1915),” Emergence of Advertising On-line Project, <>.

103 “What a man looks for in a Girl (1916),” Emergence of Advertising On-Line Project, <>.

104 “The charm every actress knows,” [ad for Pond's Vanishing Cream] LHJ, April 1916, 64 .

105 Held, Anna, “‘Make-up’-on the Street and on the Stage,” 133 .

1 I would like to thank Elspeth H. Brown, Stephen Johnson, Charlie Keil, Pamela Walker Laird, Jean-Christophe Agnew, Charles McGovern, and Sara Alpern for making insightful comments on earlier drafts of this article. I would also like to thank Alan Lessoff and Kathy Fuller Seeley for making editing suggestions that gready improved the final draft. A small section of this article (now much revised) appeared in Business and Economic History On-line 1.1 (2003) as part of the conference proceedings for the 2003 Business History Conference.

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The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era
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  • EISSN: 1943-3557
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