Jerome Alexander, Celebrity Makeup Artist
Tell me a bit about yourself and career.
I have been in the beauty industry for over 50 years. I became a makeup artist at 20 years old when I started working at a beauty salon in the late 1950s. I decided I wanted to get into the beauty industry after doing makeup house parties. I would be talking to women about makeup at these parties and they would be shaking their heads, which made me realize how little women knew about makeup. I decided at that point that I wanted to get into the beauty business to help women be their own makeup artists and feel beautiful.
My first big innovation was coming up with an idea to make handmade wigs. They were really successful and were sold in every department store in America, as well as stores in Germany and England.
I also developed cosmetic brushes for home use; prior to me coming up with the idea, cosmetic brushes as you see them today didn’t exist – no one was applying their makeup with professional tools, only makeup artists used brushes. I then created cosmetic kits which were makeup palettes with the brushes included. With these kits, women had all the tools they needed to apply their own makeup at home, just like a professional makeup artist.
Now, over 50 years later I am still heavily involved in Jerome Alexander Cosmetics and we continue to work on new products and innovations all the time, such as one of my most recent best selling products, the MagicMinerals Airbrush Foundation.
How would you describe The Man Behind The Makeup?
The Man Behind the Makeup is an homage to my career and the effect that my innovations had on the global beauty industry. It describes how I started with the wigs in the 1960s, to my transition into the world of cosmetics in the 1970s, to being one of the first beauty experts to sell products on home shopping shows nationally and internationally.
I also published a book, ‘Be Your Own Makeup Artist’ and was fortunate to be a guest on a number of national TV shows such as Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, Oprah and Regis & Kathie Lee among others so there’s some great footage of that too!
Tell me a fun fact about yourself.
I once did Betty Ford’s makeup. I was staying at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles as I was there doing some TV interviews. One day I was in my room when I heard a knock on the door. I opened the door and it was the Secret Service! I said, ‘What’s going on?’ They said ‘We have someone very special who saw you on TV and would like you to do her makeup.’ I said ‘OK sure, who is it?’ They said, it’s Betty Ford, she’s staying at the hotel, would you be kind enough to do her makeup?’ And so I did her makeup!
Anything else you want to share?
We’re working on many new products at the moment, and have just launched the ‘New Again Collection’ which is a range of makeup palettes and brushes inspired by our original coloring and brush sets of the 1970s, with a contemporary twist. We’re also planning to launch a range of affordable, high quality skincare products soon, so watch this space!
Duane Andrews, Documentarian
What attracted you to the project?
I was fascinated with Jerome’s background as a celebrity makeup artist and felt he had a great story to be told that others would enjoy hearing. Covid 19 just hit in mid-March and I was looking for a project that I could work on since I had to stay isolated in my home office. Jerome’s son, Berin, just supplied me with over 50 hours of archival footage and asked me the best way to show people this footage. I thought maybe a 2 or 3 minute video would work nicely but once I started reviewing the footage I realized we had enough great material to produce a mini documentary on his life in the beauty industry. I’m glad Berin agreed and we started the project.
What were some challenges you faced doing the project?
We had a lot of good archival footage that Jerome saved over the years but a lot of it was in rough condition. We had to use special enhancing tools to salvage the material and in the end we were able to improve the quality considerably.
What are some of your favorite memories from working on the project?
I enjoyed just watching all the great vintage clips of Jerome on the TV shows and on Home Shopping shows. He’s such a great storyteller with an engaging personality. I also enjoyed getting feedback from everyone about the documentary, especially Jerome who absolutely loves the final product.
What else are you working on?
We’re looking to create a shorter cutdown version of the documentary for people on the go who have limited time to watch.