Thursday, March 20, 2008

Vintage cosmetic case stirs imagination… know the story?

Volunteer Jo Ann Surratt, right, catalogs a Studio Girl Hollywood cosmetic sample case donated in the 1970s to the former local history museum by Thelma W. Gunthorpe of Shelby, N. C., before her death. It's one of numerous items she gave.

“I am proud to be an accredited Studio Girl Hollywood beauty advisor,” says a card inside the partitioned alligator-grained case. The case holds samples of lipstick, liquid and cream rouge, eyeshadow, liquid makeup, and more. There’s an order book inside to write down sales made.

Was Ms. Gunthorpe the saleslady at some time in the past? Was she relied on by neighbors and friends to help them stay stylish?

Various histories of the cosmetics industry recount trends including home sales during the 1940s and 1950s as women joined the work force and movies (later television) influenced makeup styles. Not much information seems available for Studio Girl, a brand (for which singer/actress Doris Day was a spokesperson) acquired in 1960 by Helene Curtis, which was in turn acquired in 1996 by Unilever.

If you have information about Ms. Gunthorpe or Studio Girl cosmetics, we’d love to hear from you and share it! Please click on Comments below to get in touch with us.

Contributor: Pat Poston


Anonymous said...

My dad, Thomas C. Cook, was vice president of Studio Girl cosmetics and had been a partner of Harry Taylor, the founder of the firm. They were located on San Fernando Road in an industrial area of Glendale, California. After my father left the company in the late 50's, it moved to another location in Glendale, and then were acquired by Helene Curtis shortly thereafter.

An interesting side-note is that the new building which Studio Girl moved to: 1401 Flower Street in Glendale, ultimately became the home to Walt Disney Imagineering, the Disney subsidiary which developed Disneyland and all the follow-on resorts.

Steve Cook

mike ivers said...

My mom was an inside sales rep (Nadine West). she passed away 11/2008. any comments would be welcom. i think they all had a good time making this company go.

Kathryn said...

My mother was a representative of Studio Girl Cosmetics. This was during the late 60's and early 70's. She loved the Family Lotion. I still have one of the original hair brushes you could purchase from her. My mother passed away 02/1993. I wish I could tell her what became of the company she loved so much.

Anonymous said...

My Grandmother sold studio Girl cosmetics in the 1960's in Iowa . It change her life and gave independence she learned to drive so she could sell the product.She had turned a room in her home into her into a studio. My mother even wore the product and liked it. My Grandmother has passed away in 2006.

Mary Ellen said...

Barbara Barr & Co purchased Studio Girl from Beeline (a direct sales company for women's clothing),in 1980,...Barbara, the president and I the treasurer...we kept the company afloat till 1997 when we had to close due to lack of sales...As operating manager I met many wonderful Beauty Advisors, and kept the company afloat as long as I could to keep these women (most of them senior citizens) busy selling the wonderful products. One of my favorites was Golden Creme Shampoo....Joe Sands (World War II Purple Heart Vet) ran the warehouse, all alone, during the final years and did a marvelous job...he is 83 now and still very handsome.

Carolyn Durocher said...

My mother, Mary Ellen and Aunt Barbara ran Studio Girl Cosmetics in the 1980s and 90s. My dad, Joe, ran the warehouse, and I worked there for a short time creating marketing flyers and campaigns. The skin care products were absolutely marvelous!

adelaide whitney said...

As a cosmetic chemist, I worked at Helene Curtis and developed some of the Studio Girl products. They had so many interesting products-it was really a fun job.
Adelaide Whitney

Anonymous said...

Thanks to all who have contributed comments! They will help us bring to life the story of Miss Thelma's cosmetics case. Blog Team

Terri said...

My mom, Ellen McGee who passed in 1978 sold Studio Girl when I was a girl. I still remenber the make-up parties she had in our home and showing ladies how to put their makeup on. Mom's sales were so good that she won a trip to California to attend a convention at the Sahara Hotel and Casino. What a family vacation that was!
I have collected several items of Studio Girl over the years, most have come from one of mom's best customers. Dorothy passed 2 years ago and as her family is cleaning out her home, they are giving me all the Studio Girl items they find.(Dorthy was my daughter' grand-mother-in-law)It is great to here of others who have fond memories of Studio Girl!!

Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

Terr Mees

Anonymous said...

Thank you all again for your comments and the collective picture you are providing. As we are finding, it's the stories of real people and real lives associated with our artifacts that make them so fascinating.

Gloria said...

n the early 1960's I was a Beauty Demonstrator for Studio Girl Hollywood Cosmetics and Jewelry, which was featured on the NBC television "Queen For A Day" hosted by Jack Bailey. The photo shows me with a bottle of cologne and wearing a earring and necklace set from Studio Girl .

Sharon said...

My mother sold Studio Girl products as well. I am currently going through some of her things and she has quite a large collection of items in her home. I was wondering if there is any interest in these to anyone. If so contact me at

Diana said...

When I was a young girl around 14 years of age (1972), I answered a magazine ad to sell Studio Girl cosmetics. Their lovely products were magical to me, as I was just becoming old enough to use the products myself. I sold to family members and a few neighbors as well as some girls from school. I was never in it to make huge amounts of money, I just wanted enough earnings to buy items for myself! I still have some of the products and catalogs and I treasure them! How I wish this wonderful company was still in business!

Anonymous said...

dear sirs, I would like to sell studio girl products in my area. I live in bedford virginia. Sincerely yours Carolyn Biggs

auntie said...

September 24, 2009
I dabbled in selling Studio Girl cosmetics in the early 70's but didn't put my time in. I loved the cosmetics though. I would love to be able to buy them again. Did they sell the formula to another company or just let it die? The mask was fantastic and the moisture creme.

Anonymous said...

We understand the Studio Girl brand was sold to Helene Curtis in 1960 and was later acquired by Unilever. It does not appear Studio Girl products are offered now.

Mary Ellen said...

BeeLine Fashions, a Direct Sales Company selling women's clothing, purchased Studio Girl from Helene Curtis...Barbara Barr and Co purchased Studio Girl from Beeeline in 1980. I was the treasurer and controller. Shirley Lata, Sue Santomauro, my husband Joe Sands,and I kept the company alive till Oct of 1997....and had to close because of lack of sales.

Anonymous said...

Mary Ellen, many thanks for this great update. It's obvious Studio Girl lives on in the fond memories of many.

Anonymous said...

My grandmother was well into her 80's when she sold Studio Girl Hollywood cosmetics. She passed away when she was a month shy of 91, and a lot of people came to her funeral... many of them old customers of hers.

I always wondered what happened to the company.

Anonymous said...

I,ve been looking for information on studio girl for a while, with no success until now,
not sure whether it,s the studio girl i remember but perhaps someone can tell me.
I remember as a small child in the 1960's going with my mum ( we lived in north yorkshire england) who had a case with cosmetics inside.People ordered their chosen items and my mum would deliver them at a later date.
Mum wore a brooch which i have and wear, it is a red rose with yellow metal stem.
I,ve no other recollection of studio girl but would be interested if any one would confirm whether or not this was the same studio girl people have written about on this site.I will check the site regular, thanks.

Jacque said...

I am so delighted to find how many people know about, sold, or know people who sold Studio Girl. I’m preparing for a yard sale, and while going through some books that have been packed away for years, I found a 37 page pamphlet titled “Beautifully Yours – Studio Girl’s guide to beauty and good grooming.” I have demonstrated and sold so many products since I was a young woman that I totally forgot about Studio Girl Cosmetics until I found this booklet. I sold their products in the 1960s. So, I immediately went online to see if they still existed, and this blog is the only information I could find. At least I know what happened to them. I loved their products. And yes, I remembered their sample case as soon as I saw the photo on Preserving our Past. Interestingly, I also demonstrated Beeline clothing.

Well, I just may come across something else related to Studio Girl if I keep unpacking boxes. Thanks for the trip down memory lane everyone.

bertamae said...

I first purchased a jar of
'Studio Girl' crean makeup in a small drugstore in San Diego, CA in 1961; It was the best I had ever used at that time and I fell in love with it. It matched my skin tone as no other makeup had and was great feeling on the skin. The counter girl at the Drugstore had told me that the makeup was not widely available at that time. She told me the name of the man who had formulated the makeup but I cannot remember it at this time.. I was told that the man was a 'makeup artist' for
Hollywood stars; thus the name. When I was about to leave CA to return to my home state of TN. I went to the drugstore and bought two containers of the makeup [which was all I could afford to purchase at that time]
I returned to TN then a few months later moved to CT. When my makeup had run out, I looked everywhere I could think to look but could not find it anywhere. I was about to try to call the lady at the Drugstore in CA to see if I could afford to have her mail me a jar of the foundation when I saw an ad in a magazine looking for salespeople for Studio Girl cosmetics. I could hardly believe it, and mailed in the application immediately. I soon received the information and catalogues in the mail.
I sold Studio Girl in CT for several years - just so that I could get the cosmetic for myself. I moved to a different town in CT and soon became pregnant, so did not continue with the sales. A few years later, after a separation from the spouse, I returned to live in TN. I once again began to sell Studio Girl which had expanded to many more products includings wigs. I sold the products for about 3 years in two different cities in TN.
When I stopped being a salesperson for the company I purchased as much product as I could afford and continued to use it until I had used it up.
At some point in the last few years I tried to re-establish contact with the company and found out it was no longer operating as before. I found one dealer online who still have a minimal amount of product but did not have what I was looking for. I am 71 yrs young at this point so do not even remember the name of the item I wanted that she did not have.
I am sure that I probably still have at least one catalogue from Studio Girl in my possession; but do not know exactly where it is stored. I am somewhat of a 'packrat' and have moved several times in the past few years so have a lot of treasures stored in containers in the basement, so it is probably there.
I just "Happened upon" this site tonight and felt compelled to post a comment.
I wish I could still get Studio Girl; the only makeup I have found over the years which even came close to the quality of SG is Beauti Control, which a friend of mine demonstrated and I purchased it from her and even helped her with some parties, but I have never found anything that I liked as well as I did Studio Girl.

annamaywongsociety said...

I was getting ready to list a printed flexible paper backed double record promoting Studio Girl. I was uncertain if I should list it but appears that my thought of a record collectible was a narrow idea for this seems to be a fondly remembered way of life. I will try to list it on November 30 2009 under the ebay user name balihi303

Gloria said...

Visit this link to see beautiful Heirloom Jewelry from Studio Girl.

Anonymous said...

This is in reply to anonymous who wrote: Mum wore a brooch which i have and wear, it is a red rose with yellow metal stem.
I,ve no other recollection of studio girl but would be interested if any one would confirm whether or not this was the same studio girl people have written about on this site.I will check the site regular, thanks.
I do not know if SG was ever sold in England or wherever you said, but ther was a red rose brooch which you could earn by having high sales. I never got one of those but I do have a small golden hued rose pin which came with my original 'starter kit' I also never had the large case shown here. I believe that was reserved for those who attained a managerial capacity. The company logo was a rose, sitting atop a Crown.
I just this AM found at the back of my cosmetic shelf a pink & clear plastic lipstick sample case which has the logo on the top. All the samples in it now are Avon, which I also sold for a very limited time at some point.
I also have somewhere in my 'packrat' stuff, a small glass rose which came w/a fragrance and a tiny funnel for filling. i saw the rose recently but have no clue if I still possess the funnel..probably not.
I do think though that your Mum's rose brooch may well have come from Studio Girl. Bertamae

B. Buchko said...

When I was a young girl, a lady my father worked with sold SG products. He brought home a bottle of ShangraLa (spelling?)perfume and I would wear it to school every day. My first grade teacher reported to my mother that one of the boys in the class would follow me around sniffing and when she aasked why he did that, he said "She smells gooooood!I wish I could find it now since I can't remember what it smelled like. All I know is my father had to get more each time the bottle ran low or I wouldn't go to school!

Anonymous said...

This post is in answer to B. Bunko and her desire to find Shangri La Perfume by Studio Girl...Seems you are in luck.
I was allergic to Shangri La (as well as many other fragrances) but do remember it and did find online an offering of several of S Girl's fragrances...including ShangriLa. don't know if I am permitted to post a URL but here goes a try: Hope the offer is still there when you see this.
I do not have a google account so hope this goes through.


Anonymous said...

I actually inherited a lot of Studio Girl jewelry (some still in original package) and one compact face powder from my Great Great Aunt that passed away in the 198o's. I've been trying to find someone to give me information on all of it--approx 300 pieces (she used to sell it I believe) to see if I should insure it or not. Is there anyone that can help. I love the jewelry and have decided to catologue it all so I know what I have. I know there is a lot that still have the original tags


Anonymous said...

Tammy, during the time that I was associated with Studio Girl they did not sell jewelry, only cosmetics and wigs. So I would have no idea what the 'stuff' you have is. The best way to get an idea of its value, I would think is to have it appraised by a knowledgeable, but inexpensive jewelry appraiser.


Mary Ellen said...

Tammy...Barbara, Shirley and I purchased jewelry for Studio Girl in the 80's & 90's....I would guess that when Beeline purchased Studio Girl from Helene Curtis, they introduced jewelry to go with their clothing line. I still have some of the jewelry that we purchased..I have quite a few award pins...Mary Ellen Sands