Monday, August 29, 2005

The Westmores of Hollywood

"The Westmores of Hollywood"
was written by Frank Westmore
[and Muriel Davidson] about
his family and published by
Lippincott in 1976.
They were not only know as
incredible makeup artists and
wigmakers, they also married
into Hollywood: Bud Westmore
married Martha Raye and
Rosemary Lane (with whom
he had a daughter).
Perc Westmore married
Gloria Dickson, who was in
such diverse movie's as "The
Crime Doctor's Strangest
Case" and "The Lady of
From pages 15 to 17:
My father, George, founded the first movie makeup department in history in 1917 and was one of the recognized giants of the early days of silent films. At one time or another, a Westmore headed up the makeup departments at Paramount, Universal, Warner Brothers, RKO, 20th Century-Fox, Selznick, Eagle-Lion, First National, and a dozen other movie lots that once flourished in the industry. The Westmores' artistry in creating ingenious horror and aging makeups helped change the movies from a make-believe to a realistic medium. For thirty years the private family-run House of Westmore on Sunset Boulevard was the most famous beauty salon in the world. Various Westmores were intimates of such stars as Clara Bow, Douglas Fairbanks, Bette Davis, Robert Mitchum, Spencer Tracy, Ray Milland, Bing Crosby, James Stewart, Shirley MacLaine, John Barrymore, Elizabeth Taylor, Fred Astaire, William Holden, Harold Lloyd, Rudolph Valentino, and the Carradines, John through David. Many of these stars would not make important career decisions with out first consulting the appropriate Westmore. Clark Gable paid us the supreme accolade of removing his false teeth in our presence. Cecil B. DeMille wouldn't make a film without a Westmore by his side. . . .
(Courtesy of
[Mary] Pickford commissioned George Westmore to make dozens of long twisted sausage curls to supplement her own long but baby-fine hair. (America's Sweetheart never knew that my dad obtained most of the hair he used from the heads of the prostitutes in Big Suzy's French Whorehouse.) Mary would be chauffeur-driven to Father's tiny one-chair beauty shop on Holly wood Boulevard, where she would sit for hours, watching in fascination, while he fashioned her hairpieces. He painstakingly wrapped the golden hair around a smooth round stick to the exact length of the curl he wanted to fabricate. Around that, he applied damp toilet paper. Then the curl would be set aside to dry. When the curl was taken off the stick, not one hair was out of place. Then, with just one hairpin, George would strategically place the false curl among the strands of Mary's own hair. He even made a leather carrying case to house his creations when she traveled. She really needed the fake curls then, because all too often a zealous fan would come at there with a pair of scissors and snip of a hunk of her hair for a souvenir. Dad couldn't have been happier about that. He soaked Miss Pickford fifty bucks a lock.
These days just TRY to find a
woman with hair that long,
much less one who wants
to "dress her hair" like
they used to do.
We won't even discuss
finding toilet paper that
would hold up!


Blogger Chris M. said...

Wow, Virginia! You've outdone yourself again! My panama hat is off to you!

I will be stopping by often.

thank you so much!


8:47 AM  

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