"I live by a man's code, designed to fit a man's world, yet at the same time I never forget that a woman's first job is to choose the right shade of lipstick."
Carole Lombard delivered many notable quotes throughout her relatively brief life, and that's one of the better remembered. To some, it may appear quaint, but in the line of work Lombard was in, choosing the right lipstick -- and makeup -- was indeed crucial.
Here's the interior of the Paramount Theater in Aurora, Ill., outside Chicago, a venue still in use today for stage shows, movies and the like. It opened in 1931 and likely hosted several of Lombard's films. Imagine you're Carole, and that during close-ups, your face is projected to several dozen times its size. In the big-city downtown palaces, screens could be up to 30 feet high -- much larger than screens at today's multiplexes.
With their faces shown at such a gargantuan scale, it's no wonder actresses learned every trick they could to make sure that image was perfect. Fortunately, Lombard had some weapons in her arsenal, and she paid them back by appearing in their advertisements, designed to sell beauty to the woman in the balcony who hoped to emulate her favorite stars.
First and foremost, there was Max Factor, whose yeoman work in the cosmetics field did so much for the film industry.
Born Max Faktorowicz in 1877 in a section of Poland that was then part of the Russian Empire, he eventually moved to Moscow and opened a shop there specializing in creams, rouges and fragrances. They became popular with Russian nobility, but in 1904 he and his family emigrated to the U.S., settling in Los Angeles in 1908. Six years later, he developed a make-up specifically designed for the needs of actors in the infant motion picture industry. He began to mass market his cosmetics in the 1920s, and personally worked with Lombard and other actors before his death in 1938.
Here's Carole in a Max Factor ad from late 1935, about the time "Hands Across The Table" was in the theaters:
Other cosmetics firms gained popularity in the film community, too, including Elizabeth Arden, for which Lombard also advertised:
Even several decades after her death, Lombard's image was used to sell cosmetics, such as in this Countess Isserlyn ad from the 1980s: