The Remarkable Career of Maksymilian Faktorowicz

Rita Hayworth as Gilda.

Rita Hayworth as Gilda.
“Men go to bed with Gilda, but they wake up with me.”

He was so renowned and prized as the hairdresser to the Russian court that he did most of his work under military guard. But when he married secretly without first securing Czar Nicholas II’s permission, he had to flee the country. Faktorowicz used his own makeup to fake symptoms of jaundice in order to leave Moscow for America in 1902.

His early times in America were tough. A business partner defrauded him of most of his savings at the Louisiana World’s fair. His half-brother became known as “Jake the barber,” a notorious Prohibition gangster who once, literally, broke the bank at Monte Carlo.

But Faktorowicz was a resilient sort. He headed west, and in 1908 he set himself up in Hollywood with a business that hired out wigs to film extras. Then he did the extras’ makeup. Then he graduated doing makeup for the stars. Then he invented the term “makeup.”

In 1935, he was so popular and so much in demand that he opened his own “Makeup Studio.” It had color-coded rooms for his clients: one with salon-peach walls for “brownettes,” one with powder-blue walls for blondes, and a mint-green one for redheads. “Whenever there is red in the composition of the hair,” he said, “green will be becoming.”

Faktorowiczs’s many successes included the heart-shaped lips of Clara Bow, Hollywood’s “It Girl” and perhaps its first

Maksymilian Faktorowicz at work with his

Maksymilian Faktorowicz at work with his “beauty micrometer,” which detected tiny flaws in actor’s faces. Without a treatment of some sort, these flaws would show up on the big screen. The solution? Pancake makeup.

famous redhead; the platinum blonde look of Jean Harlow, which she maintained with a weekly wash of ammonia, Clorox, and Lux soap flakes; and the glorious copper curls of Rita Hayworth.

clara bow

Clara Bow, Hollywood’s “It Girl” (colorized).

Hayworth is the star that most frequently comes to mind when you say “Hollywood” and “redhead” together, even though her films were shot in monochrome rather than in color. She drove men wild with desire in many roles including that of the seductress and society girl Gilda, on stage and in a 1946 film. Her complaint about that role? She once sighed, “Men go to bed with Gilda, but they wake up with me.”

If, in my next life, I come back as Maksymilian Faktorowicz, I’ll take that as God’s message that I was a good boy in this life, and that I deserve a nice reward.

And you know who Maksymilian Faktorowicz is. We’ve all used his products.

Max Factor.

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