Hollywood Stars Beauty Secrets

Learn the beauty secrets of the Hollywood stars


 Hollywood Stars Beauty and Fashion Secrets


Hollywood stars beauty secrets - Marilyn Monroe

Hollywood stars, Rita Hayworth and Tyrone Power, are famous examples of how removing excess body hair can change your life. Rita Hayworth struggled for four years in cheap “B” movies, moving no closer to stardom. But then her hairdresser pointed out that Rita had a very low hairline, that it was not becoming and made her look "not too bright."  Rita had her hairline raised by almost a full inch and suddenly there was the face of a goddess the whole world knows today. Within a year Rita was starring in “A” films, and by the time she was 23 she was Columbia Studios' number one star.


When Darryl F. Zanuck first saw a screen test of the unknown Tyrone Power he stood up and shouted, “My God! It’s a monkey! Stop the film!” Fortunately for Tyrone, Zanuck’s wife, Virginia, suggested that if they raised Tyrone’s hairline by an inch, she was sure he would be very handsome. She was right. The studio not only raised Tyrone's hairline, they also reduced the unattractive bushiness of his eyebrows, giving him a far more elegant appearance.  Within a year, Tyrone Power was the biggest new male star in movies and it was universally acknowledged that he was the handsomest man in Hollywood.


One of the reasons audiences of the 1930's found Jean Harlow so exciting to watch onscreen was that her nipples seemed to be in a constant state of excitation. It was this aspect of her physical appearance that led to the widespread rumors that she was a nymphomaniac, as she seemed to be in a continual mood of physical arousal. The truth is that just before the camera rolled, Harlow would step behind the scenes and ice her nipples to make them erect. Her gowns were designed to give her this last-minute access to her breasts, and to allow her erect nipples to show through the fabric. The results not only made Harlow the premier sex symbol of the 1930s, but she brought large breasts back into style, after the flat-chested vogue of the 1920s, when women used to bind their breasts to make them flat.

Hollywood stars beauty secrets - Rita HayworthMarilyn Monroe cultivated the impression that she was dumb onscreen, as she knew most men were put-off by clever women, but her designers, stylists, and make-up people all attest to her brilliance in manipulating and enhancing her image. For example, few people know that it was Marilyn who first invented lip gloss to emphasize her famous “wet lips” look. She combined lipstick, beeswax, and Vaseline into her own lip gloss, and her invention was passed on from her make-up people to the cosmetic companies, with Marilyn receiving no credit or royalties. Marilyn would also insist on being sewn into her dresses in order to make them tight enough. If she wanted a dress to look as though her nipples were showing, she would sew buttons in them, as her nipples could not get erect. As Marilyn explained to a costume designer, “My nipples won’t get hard - they’re the wrong kind.”


Before facelifts were common, Marlene Dietrich invented the temporary facelift during the shooting of 1944's Kismet. Marlene and her hairdresser would take strands of her hair, twist them around hairpins until they pulled the skin of her face back tautly, and then attach the pins so tightly to her scalp that it would bleed. However, the effect was miraculous, and made the 43-year-old actress look at least ten years younger. Marlene also pioneered the use of surgical tape to provide a temporary facelift, with the tape hidden under her hair, or a wig. By the time she was fifty Marlene was using an ultra-fine gold chain which ran under her chin, anchored behind her ears, and was hidden by her hair. This eliminated any sags on her neck, making her look years younger, and because it was so fine it could not be seen by the camera.


Perhaps the most glamorous physical asset of any star of the 1940's was Rita Hayworth’s fabulous mane of red hair, which elevated her to the level of a sensual goddess. Her hair was actually black, and the studio would dye the roots of her hair every other day, as her hair grew so fast that by the third day a black line was noticeable. However, the studio found that on the second day, Hayworth looked even more beautiful than usual, as the black line along her roots was thin enough to be invisible, and yet provide a “frame” for her face. Consequently, when they wanted a gorgeous close-up of Rita, the studio would arrange to film her when her roots had two day's growth.


Loretta Young was considered one of the screen’s great beauties and a dazzling clotheshorse, but she was obsessed with the belief that she was embarrassingly short-waisted. To solve this problem, Loretta had a new torso made for her of rubber. This artificial figure gave her a long and very elegant waist, so she appeared more slender, and it could be worn under almost all of her costumes. (That’s why so many of Loretta’s outfits have high necklines.) All of her costumes had to be fitted over this new rubber torso, and although wearing it was awkward and uncomfortable, Loretta believed any amount of discomfort was justified if it could make her onscreen image even more elegant and flawless.


When Mae West became a movie star she was 41, the oldest actress ever to become a sex symbol, and she employed every art she knew to disguise her age. She was so successful that she was still playing the same seductress on stage and screen when she was in her seventies. Her best trick for appearing young onscreen was to make sure that no one else did. After her first starring film, Mae learned to cast women who were older or much less attractive around her to protect her image. The struggling Ann Sheridan, who later became the “oomph girl,” recalled Mae choosing extras for a film, and as she walked down the line, she immediately told all the pretty, young girls like Ann to “Step back, dearie.” There’s no question the technique worked, for by her fifth film, Mae was the highest paid woman in America, a worldwide legend, and had almost single-handedly brought on censorship.


hollywood stars beauty secrets  - liz taylorWhen you watch Elizabeth Taylor’s films of the 1950's it’s amazing how voluptuous her figure is, in both the size of her breasts and the smallness of her waist. Hollywood designers of the period are uniform in their recollection of Elizabeth constantly besieging them, wanting to know any new tricks she could employ to make her waist look smaller, and her breasts look larger naturally. (Liz was always proud of her development and would have scorned any cheating with padding.). With the help of her designers Liz learned to use tricks like moving the waist lower, employing wide, diminishing belts, and the value of cantilever-style, bias-cut sewing under the breasts to provide support without the need of a bra. Edith Head, Jean Louis, Helen Rose, and the other brilliant designers of the era describe Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe as being absolutely obsessed with learning any new optical illusions, use of forced perspective, or other tricks of designing that could make them look even more like goddesses on the screen. The finished products speak for themselves, as no actress of this generation has come anywhere near matching their legendary glamour.


In the 1930s Norma Shearer had more Academy Award nominations (six), and more box-office clout than any other actress, and if that weren’t enough, she was even married to Irving Thalberg, MGM’s head of production. Not surprisingly, Shearer was usually referred to as “The Queen of MGM” at a time when MGM was the Queen of the studios. (She was the only actress offered the role of Scarlett O’Hara before Vivien Leigh, but when her fans objected to her playing a bitch, she withdrew from the role.) Despite all of this power, Shearer was generally well-liked, and few people, except her rival Joan Crawford, accused her of using her position unfairly. Onscreen, in films like A Free Soul and The Divorcee audiences had accepted Shearer as a glamorous, willowy, sexy goddess, but in reality she was very short, had serious figure defects, and had a cast in one eye. But Shearer was a genius at controlling and shaping her image so that audiences believed she was beautiful. Perhaps her best trick was to wear very pale, white make-up, and then insist the rest of the players in the scene wear make-up several shades darker. The result was that onscreen she seemed to glow, standing out from the other players like a luminous goddess.


If you’ve ever tried to get a sexy dress to fit as tight and as perfectly as one of those amazing skin-tight gowns worn by Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, or Elizabeth Taylor, don’t bother trying. The most prestigious and Academy Award winning designers of the golden age of Hollywood have admitted they never hesitated to glue, pin, or sew an actress into a gown, in order to get a perfect fit - just as fashion magazines like Vogue do. There were occasions when both Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth wore gowns which were literally glued to their bodies to attain the ideal skin-tight molding.


If you’ve seen those fabulous slinky gowns of the 1930s where you can see the actress isn’t wearing a bra, yet her breasts have perfect uplift and shape, it’s because it was common practice for actresses to emulate Marlene Dietrich, who first began the practice of using surgical tape to lift and shape her breasts while still leaving the nipple and upper half of the breast bare. The tape was very uncomfortable for the actresses, and painful to remove, but the effect onscreen achieved a sensual elegance that no succeeding generation has matched.


Hollywood stars beauty secrets - Kim NovakIt’s often forgotten today, but a major reason Kim Novak became a star was that she was the first actress since Jean Harlow to flaunt the fact that she never wore a bra. Even Alfred Hitchcock had to work hard to convince Kim to wear a bra for a scene in Vertigo, as she was very proud of her natural endowment and uplift, informing her designers like Edith Head at their first meeting that she never wore brassieres. Kim became a sex symbol by wearing soft fabrics and sweaters that clung deliciously to her lovely breasts, and although it’s no longer remembered, Kim Novak and Marilyn Monroe had a competition to see who could be the most revealing in displaying their breasts the most attractively. (Marilyn won in Some Like It Hot.)


Sexy, sophisticated Carole Lombard (who married Clark Gable), was a master of all the arts that created her alabaster-goddess image - from lighting to posture to costume design. In particular, she learned to be a master of make-up to hide the tiny scar on her cheek which was the result of a car accident in her youth. Carole was a flawless beauty, except for a slight crook in her nose, and she found that if she painted a straight white line down her nose, then applied her make-up over it, the camera was fooled by the illusion, and in effect, she gave herself a temporary nose-job. This technique was quickly copied by her make-up people, so that the method was often used to fix “bent” noses on other actresses. Carole Lombard knew the ideal lighting for her face so well that if while shooting a scene, one bulb was burnt out among sixty, she knew it before the electricians because she could feel a “cool spot” on her face.


For fifteen years bewitching Claudette Colbert was one of the biggest box-office draws in films, and that gave her the power to protect her legendary image by insisting she only be photographed from the left. You can see the right side of Claudette’s face in her early starring films, and there is no doubt that she is correct in observing she is far prettier when filmed from the left. Of course this led to terrible problems for her directors and set designers, as everything had to be planned and played so that Claudette would never be seen from the right, except in an occasional long-shot. The real nightmares for the director began when she would co-star with someone like Ray Milland, who also believed his left profile was his best, for how many scenes can a director stage with both stars staring off-screen in the same direction, instead of looking at one another when they talk?


There is nothing new under the sun - not even working out, as there have always been actresses who understood that a variety of sports would enhance their figure. Norma Shearer was very athletic, and she enjoyed astonishing co-stars like Charles Laughton by performing gymnastic feats such as cartwheels between takes on the set while dressed in full period costume. Katharine Hepburn was a notable athlete in several fields, and two decades after she became a star she had her skills documented for all time in Pat and Mike. Even actresses who usually lolled about onscreen like Greta Garbo, Mae West, and Marilyn Monroe lifted weights, decades before it was considered “acceptable” for women, as these women were willing to try anything that could make their images more perfect. The results remain legendary, even with people who’ve never seen one of their films, but only the still photos.


Yet the best beauty secret of all was given to Shirley Temple by her mother before each take. Just as the camera would prepare to roll, her mother would smile at Shirley and say, “Sparkle!” Little Shirley smiled and “sparkled,” becoming the biggest box-office star in the world and the youngest woman to earn a million dollars entirely through her own efforts.


The above is used with permission from the author.  Copyright 2009 by Richard Lyon, author of The Complete Book of Film Awards.



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