Businessman, Entrepreneur. Born Maksymilian Faktorowicz to Polish-Jewish parents, his mother died when he was two years old. His father could not afford an education for his four children and Max worked from the age of eight, first as an apprentice to a dentist and pharmacist, and at the age of nine as apprentice to a wig maker and cosmetician. His experience earned him a position at a leading hairstylist and cosmetics creator and at the age of 14 he worked with a Moscow wig maker and cosmetician to the Imperial Russian Grand Opera. From the age of 18 to 22 he served in the Imperial Russian Army. After his discharge from the army he opened his own cosmetic and wig shop in Russia. The Russian nobility appointed him official cosmetics expert for the royal family and the Russian Grand Opera. To escape anti-Jewish persecution in Europe he left for the United States in 1904 with his first wife, Esther Rosa and their three children. Later that year he sold his cosmetics at the World’s Fair in Saint Louis. His wife died from a brain hemorrhage in March of 1906, leaving him the single father of four children. He married Huma Helen Sradkowska in August of that year; they had one child and divorced in 1907. He married third Jennie Cook in 1908 who was his wife until his death. The family moved to Los Angeles that year where he created made-to-order and theatrical make-up for the film industry and opened a shop called Max Factor’s Antiseptic Hair Store. He developed a make-up better suited to film than the greasepaint then used in the theatre and packaged it in 12 graduated shades. His made-to-order wigs were rented to producers of Western movies provided that his sons were given parts so they could keep track of the wigs. He first marketed his cosmetics to the public in the 1920’s. In the 1930’s he helped to develop a beauty micrometer device which precisely measured the contours of faces. By reading the face a make-up technician could accurately mask any structural flaws. In 1938, while traveling in Europe with one of his sons, he received a death threat in Paris. Badly shaken he returned to California and died there. He received an honorary Academy Award in 1929 for contributions to the movie industry. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is mentioned in the song “Hooray for Hollywood”. His half-brother, John, was a prohibition era gangster, a member of the Chicago Outfit.
Bio by: Gail Campbell Schulte