In 1915, when a kitchen stove fire singed his sister Mabel's lashes and brows, Tom Lyle Williams watched in fascination as she performed a ''secret of the harem'' - mixing petroleum jelly with coal dust and ash from a burnt cork and apply 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 name it Maybeline in her honor.
Throuhout the 20th century, the Maybeline Company inflated, collapsed, endured, and thrived in tandem witht he nation's upheavals - as did the family that nurtured it. Setting up shop first in Chicago, Williams later, to avoid unwanted scrutiny of his private life, cloistered himself behind the gates of his Rudolph Valentino Villa and ran his empire from a distance. Now after nearly a century of silence, this true story celebrates the life of an American entrepreneur, man whose vision rocketed him to success along with the woman held in his orbit, Evelyn Boecher - who became his lifelong fascintion and muse.
Captivated by her ''roaring charisma,'' he affectionately called her the ''real Miss Maybelline'' and based many of his advertising campaigns on the woman she represented: commandingly beautiful, hard - boiled and daring. Evelyn masterminded a life of vanity, but would fall prey to fortune hunters and a mysterious murder that even today remains unsolved. A fascinating and inspiring story of ambition, luck, secrecy - and surprisingly, above all, love and forgiveness, a tale both epic and intimate, alive with the clash, the hustle, the music, and dance of American enterprise.