Factor, Max

Factor, Max

▪ American makeup designer
born 1877, Łódź, Poland, Russian Empire
died August 30, 1938, Beverly Hills, California, U.S.

      dean of Hollywood makeup experts. He was a pioneer in developing makeup specifically for motion-picture (motion picture) actors and was given a special Academy Award in 1928 for his achievements.

      Factor emigrated from Poland to the United States in 1904, moving first to St. Louis, Missouri, and arriving in Los Angeles by 1909. At that time, actors had no makeup that met the special problems of filmmaking. Factor introduced a light, semiliquid greasepaint that he made available in a wide range of skin tones; it effectively augmented actors' appearance in an era when filmmaking was dominated by the use of arc lighting and orthochromatic film emulsion. It was also the first makeup to be packaged in tubes. When incandescent lamps and panchromatic film came into use in the 1920s, Factor created a new line of compatible makeup colours.

      Factor's original product, Supreme Greasepaint, was the forerunner of today's foundation cream. In the 1920s, as women aspired to achieve the look of movie stars for themselves, Factor began selling his makeup outside the theatre and movie industry. He marketed his most successful products under the Society Make-up brand name. Although the glamorous association with Hollywood gave the brand consumer recognition, Factor had chosen a name that would not be too “showbiz” or unladylike.

      Factor wrote the article “Make-up” for Encyclopædia Britannica's 14th edition (1929–73). As he explained, makeup is both “corrective and creative”:

As a corrective art, make-up serves to (1) cover blemishes; (2) provide the face with a smooth and even colour tone for the most effective photography; (3) clearly define the facial features for more visibly expressive action; (4) make the player appear more attractive; and (5) ensure a uniform appearance before the camera. As a creative art, make-up enables the player to take on the appearance of almost any type of character. It can be his means of achieving a distinctive “screen personality.”

      After Factor's death, his son, Max Factor, Jr., took over as head of the business, Max Factor & Co., which became a subsidiary of the Revlon Group in 1987 and was acquired by Procter & Gamble in 1991. Factor's brother John (“Jake the Barber”) Factor, a Chicago-based owner of casinos in Las Vegas, Nevada, was convicted of bootlegging in 1943 but received a full pardon from President John F. Kennedy in 1962.

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Universalium. 2010.

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