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“The Hollywood Powder Puff War”: Technicolor Cosmetics in the 1930s

Dootson, K; (2016) “The Hollywood Powder Puff War”: Technicolor Cosmetics in the 1930s. Film History , 28 (1) pp. 107-131. 10.2979/filmhistory.28.1.04. Green open access

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Abstract

This essay examines the rivalry between cosmetics firms Max Factor and Elizabeth Arden in 1930s Hollywood as they competed for dominance in the field of Technicolor cosmetics. This rivalry, dubbed “the Hollywood Powder Puff War” by the press, was far from a trivial skirmish but is discussed here as the site where labor practices, racial constructions, and female identity were contested. Against a backdrop of industrial action in studio makeup departments, I argue that Factor’s Technicolor cosmetics line ultimately triumphed over Arden’s by reinforcing whiteness as a beauty ideal during the transition from black-and-white to color film.

Type: Article
Title: “The Hollywood Powder Puff War”: Technicolor Cosmetics in the 1930s
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.2979/filmhistory.28.1.04
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.2979/filmhistory.28.1.04
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Max Factor, Technicolor, makeup, cosmetics, Hollywood, labor history, whiteness, female spectatorship
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > SELCS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10162968
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