Mary Stuyvesant – American Beauty Guru of the 1940’s
Mary Stuyvesant is famous these days for her wonderful 1940’s makeup and hair tutorial films on the Glamour Daze YouTube channel. She was possibly the first high profile television beauty guru. Yet, until recently, she was all but forgotten and so little is known about her.
Mary Stuyvesant hailed from England. She was seen regularly during the early 1940’s, by those at least who had a television, on channels across America. Her programs consisted of makeup and good grooming tutorials.
In 1944, Mary presented a cosmetics program for TV, over the WRGB network, created by the J Walter Thompson advertising agency.
The show was one hour long and fashioned like a beauty clinic. Using six high school girls, she demonstrated makeup appropriate for teens and tips on how to apply it.
Here she is demonstrating the right and wrong way to apply makeup in the 1940’s. Mary was a consultant and PR spokesperson for Ponds Cold Cream, so her tutorials were extended infomercials for Ponds Cold Cream.
In 1946, a luscious color 16mm film was produced by Lamont Corliss & Company ( who owned Ponds) and distributed nationwide by Castle Films Inc from New York.
Mary Stuyvesant, who by now was a well known beauty expert, is seen both at home with friends at a bridal shower, and giving a ‘serious’ lecture to an assembly of high school girls.
This 1940’s makeup and beauty lecture is a treasure. It is one of the earliest detailed makeup and grooming tutorials from that era. Mary emphasizes diet, cleanliness, posture and poise, as major factors in achieving true feminine glamour and beauty.
The film begins with a lovely bridal shower for a friend at home. When one of the girls asks her about the secret to glamour, Mary explains in just a few simple words – poise and charm. Her chat segues into one of her school lectures, and that’s when the fun begins. Apart from her brilliant hair and makeup tutorial, she explains the secrets to tasteful dressing and the use of the right accessories, contribute immensely to natural good looks. Care of the skin and “natural” use of makeup are also given detailed coverage and tuition in the film.
The film was shown in schools, colleges and local church groups across the USA and would have been seen by many young women in the 1940’s.
To achieve true 1940’s style glamour, Mary emphasizes ‘glamour poise and charm.’ Poise being a state of mind. It comes as a result of confidence in the way you look. That your clothes are right, your makeup natural, your hair neat. Charm is the ability to make other people happy and comfortable with you. In these modern narcissistic days, how many of us achieve the art of poise and charm I wonder?
Until recent years, the name of Mary Stuyvesant was forgotten. When Glamour Daze acquired the film from AV Geeks, we had no name for her. We cheekily gave her a nickname – Miss Ratherly Stern, inspired by her sincere but rather serious admonitions to her girls. It’s all good fun now all these years later, but it’s time her fans knew her by her real name: Mary Stuyvesant – pronounced Stoy-vess-ant.
Mary’s tutorials have become hugely popular today. Those simple lessons of beauty and good grooming from the 1940’s are a refreshing alternative to today’s heavily painted masks and heavy eyebrows – which are the current vogue. Her advice, as old as the hills, was to use makeup to emphasize your individuality instead of masking it.