If you’re going to create heroes and heroines, villains and villainesses who look credible under the camera’s unrelenting gaze, you need fantastic raw material.
You also need brilliant make-up. And when it comes to make-up, Perc Westmore is the best in the business.
Perc (pronounced ‘Purse’) is the son of an English wigmaker and just one of a whole family of Hollywood make-up artists. He is Head of Warner Brothers’ make-up department and the highest-paid make-up artist in the world with a salary of $50,000 a year (well over half a million dollars in today’s money).
Of course he works with leading actresses such as Lauren Bacall and Bette Davis. So when he speaks, starlets (and indeed stars) listen – as the starlets gathered round him are doing in this picture.
He’s a real innovator, who has revolutionized make-up. To his credit are:
- The panchromatic base – a tan cream that keeps faces and lips from fading out by evenly reflecting all lights.
- A systematic approach to make-up based on a rigorous categorization of hair colour and facial type. For example, prior to Perc, studios described actresses simply as blonde or brunette. His system involves a chart of thirty five shades of blonde alone.
- The ‘hair lace wig’, which adds years of professional life to the likes of Bing Crosby, Charles Boyer and Fred Astaire.
And he’s formidable too. According to his nephew, Mike:
There are makeup people who didn’t work if they wronged Perc. Perc was a powerful guy in the business. Very creative and nice, but you didn’t cross him. He was a tidy guy. I remember he used to wear these white suits and never got anything on them.
Want to know more about Perc Westmore?
Look no further than Tattered and Lost.