In 1915, when a kitchen stove fire singed his sister Mabel's lashes and brows, Tom Lyle Williams watched in fascination as she performed what she called "a secret of the harem" - mixing petroleum jelly with coal dust and ash from a burnt cork and applying 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. Tom Lyle Williams - to avoid unwanted scrutiny of his private life - cloistered himself behind the gates of his Rudolph Valentino Villa and ran his empire from the shadows. Now, after nearly a century of silence, this true story celebrates the life of an American entrepreneur, a man forced to remain behind a mask, using his sister-in-law, Evelyn Boecher, to be his front.
This is an epic story and best-selling book. It is being considered for a four-part series made for television. To date, the book has been translated into four languages.
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