Max Factor House
Built in 1909, this Craftsman home on Boyle Avenue rose to fame in the 1920s when internationally renowned businessman Max Factor settled there with his family, in close proximity to his store on South Central Avenue.
The building is an excellent example of Boyle Heights' layered history, particularly its role as an entry-point for immigrants from around the world. Factor, born to a Jewish family in Poland in 1877, lived in the residence from 1923 to 1929.
Following Factor's move to Hollywood, the residence became the home of Dr. and Mrs. H. J. Hara. Dr. Hara worked as a local surgeon and was also actively involved with the Japanese American Society, serving as the organization's vice president for a time.
Factor, whose cosmetics company was quickly becoming a favorite among Hollywood studios and celebrities, was attracted to Boyle Heights' strong Jewish community. By the 1920s, approximately one-third of Los Angeles' Jewish population lived in the neighborhood.
The house on Boyle Avenue was also located near dependable public transportation, which Max used regularly. He never learned to drive and would leave the company car parked in the driveway so he could use the garage as his at-home lab to devise and test new makeup formulas.
The house itself features common design elements of the Craftsman style, including wide eaves with exposed rafters underneath. The interior of the house featured rich wood paneling and had four large bedrooms, a separate dining room, a household worker’s room, a laundry chute, and two solariums.
Max Factor's career in cosmetology began at an early age. At nine, he had earned an apprenticeship with a leading wigmaker and cosmetician. By age 14, he was working in Russia as a make-up artist for singers of the Imperial Russian Grand Opera. He even served as cosmetician to some members of the Russian royal family.
Factor and his family immigrated to the United States from Russia in 1904 and moved to Los Angeles in 1908, where he opened his first store on South Central Avenue near downtown. He quickly caught the attention of actors and actresses in Los Angeles’ burgeoning film industry. Factor devised new formulas to cater to filming and lighting conditions at movie studios, where stage makeup was not suitable. His Hollywood makeup salon on Highland Avenue near Hollywood Boulevard is Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #593.
Factor designed looks for Hollywood’s top stars, including Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and Rita Hayworth. He is credited with creating Jean Harlow's signature “platinum blonde” look.
As the glamour of Hollywood’s stars reached thousands of people through the movies, Factor began selling his makeup to the general public, giving birth to the modern cosmetics industry. Never before had such a wide variety of innovative beauty products been available at reasonable prices to the public. His own inventions included lip gloss, eye shadow, eyebrow pencil, false eyelashes, foundation, and concealer.