Going to extremes to attain a beautiful look isn’t a new thing. All that has changed are the methods that people go to to achieve it. Today, there’s botox, facelifts and a thousand different cosmetic surgery procedures that someone can undergo in the hopes of looking fresher, fitter and flashier. In the past, the means and ways of attaining perfection were even more varied. Some were fads, some worked and many were highly harmful.
Before the dawn of modern surgery, vintage Hollywood stars did everything they could to look their best. Did you know that the most respected movie star veterans did beauty practices that would be considered shocking by today’s standards?
Here’s a look at the extreme lengths old Hollywood stars went to for beauty:
Joan Crawford was one of the biggest stars of Depression era cinema, and is the only person to have the strange honor of being both an Oscar winning actress and chairman of the Pepsi-Cola company. She also explained, in her autobiography, that during her years on the silver screen, she had a really weird beauty treatment. She cleaned her eyes with boric acid twice a day to make them sparkle. This might sound incredibly dangerous, and it is, but apparently Crawford was onto something. Most modern eye wash solutions use boric acid, albeit in a very diluted form. Just to be clear, however, applying undiluted boric acid onto the eyes is very dangerous and should never be tried at home.
Marlene Dietrich was another Depression era Hollywood screen actor. To break into Hollywood, she had to translate her appeal in German cinema to the American audience. To do this, she had a very expensive trick. She sprinkled real gold dust in her wigs to make them shine. If that sounds expensive now, imagine what it would have been like during the Great Depression. Each wig required over $400 worth of gold to be added every time it was dusted. This trick worked, and Dietrich soon became one of the highest paid actresses in the world.
Fannie Ward was a silent film star who was famous for her perpetually young looks. Her method of attaining this youthful look was through undergoing perhaps the cheapest beauty regime known to man: hanging upside down. She hung upside down for 30 minutes each day to maintain her youthful look. Seeing as her young appearance was noted throughout her life, it seems to have been effective.
Source: The Telegraph
Judy Garland is eternally famous for playing Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Sadly, the story of how she had to break into the cinema industry is dark. Pioneering Hollywood producer Louis B Mayer immediately signed her to MGM when he heard her singing voice, but after seeing her onscreen for the first time, when she was 13, he was convinced that she looked too fat for Hollywood. He made her undergo a wide range of extreme diets. By the time she was 18, she was put on a diet of chicken soup, black coffee, and 80 cigarettes a day to lose weight. All of the stresses of having to undergo such a strict and unhealthy diet at such a young age would have terrible consequences on her mental and physical health, and Judy Garland died of a drug overdose aged 47.
Rita Hayworth was the number 1 pin up girl for American soldiers during World War II. However, in the 1930s, she struggled to gain success. So in 1936, at the insistence of Columbia Pictures, she underwent several changes. She changed her last name from Cansino to Hayworth, and to look less “ethnic,” she went through a year’s worth of electrolysis to raise her hairline. Afterward, her career began to steadily rise, until she became an outright star in the 1941.
Gloria Grahame was known as a 1940s and ‘50s sexpot. In particular, the fullness of her lips were famously attractive to audiences.To achieve this look, she stuffed cotton and paper below her upper lip, exaggerating her real features. The men she kissed on screen only became aware of this beauty trick during the filming of the scene, as the paper had a tendency to transfer to the men during the kiss. In later years, she underwent cosmetic surgery on her lips, to make them look fuller. However, due to the rudimentary nature of plastic surgery at the time, she inadvertently ended up permanently paralysing her lip.
The things we do for beauty.
Header Image Source: Silver Screenings