Obviously the person who decreed Monday the day for the annual Academy Awards ceremony was a man.
A woman never would have scheduled one of the most glamourous events of the year on the day most beauty shops are either closed or operating with skeleton staffs.
Whether at a salon or at home, those who make their living dispensing beauty to filmdon's royaltymust plan carefully as Oscar day approaches. Hair styling, powder-puffing, eyebrow plucking, lip-lining, nail and toe polishing and (sometimes) temporary face-tightening become major priorities today; booking these necessities requires more than a modicum of diplomacy.
Margaret L'Hommedieu--through her company, H.M.S. bookings--acts as agent to some of the city's top hair and makeup artists. The one-time high fashion model-turned-businesswoman books them for fashion layouts and--especially as the Oscars loom--for house calls to such celebrities as Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Michael Jackson, Jessica Lange, Lauren Bacall, Michael Jackson, President Reagan and the First Lady,former President Gerald Ford and his wife, Betty, and numerous others.
"It's quite a scramble," L'Hommedieu confessed the other day, between client phone calls. "A lot of people call at least a month before and say 'Oh, gee, I think I'm going to the Oscars.' They're kind of feeling out the situation and don't want to commit to anything. Then on the Friday afternoon before the awards, it's this mad dash to get to (top makeup artists) Jeff (Jones), Wayne (Massarelli) or Peter (Lawson)."
Each client, she said, will spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 for a house call that includes hair styling (no wash) and makeup. Since the sessions can run from an hour to an hour and a half, each artist is only able to handle from four to six clients in the hours leading up to the ceremony.
"Everyone, of course, wants to be done at the last minute," L'Hommedieu explained. "So I have to kind of tippie-toe around things."
The question becomes who rates and who doesn't?
"Well, our regular clients certainly get preference," she said. "If somebody called two weeks ago, then they're gonna have a better chance."
L'Hommedieu explained that not only the stars must be handled with kid gloves; studio executives' wives require careful attention as well.
Have there been bribes?
"Well . . . people have said 'I'll send my limo over for him right now,' or once Wayne was offered a ticket to the Oscars," she recalled, adding that "I try to be as fair as possible--everyone wants to look good and feel good."
If Sally Field doesn't come home with a best actress Oscar tonight, she can blame it on makeup artist Wayne Massarelli.
Massarelli, it seems, has become a lucky talisman of sorts to award nominees of all kinds. Whether it be the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes or the Grammys . . . each time Wayne does the makeup for a nominee, she wins. It happened to Field when she won her first Oscar for "Norma Rae," to Bette Midler when she received a Golden Globe award for best actress and to Melissa Manchester, who took home a Grammy for best female vocalist.
Massarelli left town last Saturday for an assignment in India and won't have a chance to see if his lucky charm will work again this year.
"I'm sorry to be missing them this year," he said in an interview. "Let's face it: It is the most prestigious awards ceremony."
Massarelli felt that his appeal to clients lies in his "low-key" style. "The tensions and anxieties run from morning, through the awards and even after," he said. "They're just relieved to have their makeup taken care of."
Massarelli's most memorable Oscar Monday was the one he spent backstage with actress Field the year she won. "I was in the green room, where all the celebrities wait and where the card table with all the Oscars sits," he recalled. "When Sally won, I stood up and cheered, not noticing that two of the nominees who had just lost to her were in the room with me."
Today, many top Beverly Hills salons, such as Tibian, Elizabeth Arden and Aida Grey, and hair boutiques such as Michaeljohn, Joseph Martin's, Umberto's, Betty Pehrson and others will either remain open or increase normally thin staffs to handle the rush to glamorize. There are different priorities for each establishment, depending on its focus.
At Tibian, the posh salon used recently in the TV series "Hollywood Wives," the rush started last Thursday and Friday as clients came in for their facials.
"It's best that they have these done several days before," manager Marita Greenfield explained. "Faces tend to look a little ruddy afterwards and need a couple of days to start glowing."
Tibian offers everything from facials ($40 to $60) to makeup application ($20-$25) or a make-up lesson ($60) to manicures ($12) and pedicures ($22). Most clients attending the awards tonight, she said, will be coming in for makeup, nails and toes. Bookings were heavy enough today to require extra staff, Greenfield said.
As for house calls, she explained gracefully, "We do not have to do that."
"Most of my clients don't even go to the ceremony," said Angelo, hair stylist at Umberto's. "They go to Swifty's (superagent Lazar) party. Once you've lived in Beverly Hills, or you're in the business we're in, you're only an extra if you're not up for something."
Angelo said that he will most likely be around the salon today, doing hair for clients (which include Altovese Davis and Wallis Annenberg). "Mostly for those going to Spago (the Lazar affair)."
Joseph Martin's Larry Cilento said that he'll be available in and out of his salon for his clients (Candice Bergen, Tova Borgnine, Gladys Begelman and Wendy Goldberg are among them). For the Academy Awards, he said, the "look" clients want "is something more glamorous. I'll put their hair up and maybe decorate it with hair ornaments."
And then there is the invariable snafu. This year's, of course, won't be known until much later today. However, Aida Grey recalled the year one of her patrons barely made it to the Oscars.
"She was a very big star," Grey said, declining to name names. "Just as we were about to do her makeup, we realized that her skin was a little oily, so we put on a masque. She said she didn't have time to wait and left, with the masque on, and said she'd do her own makeup at home.
"Her car ran out of gas and she began knocking on people's doors--with this white masque on--trying to get in to use a phone."
No one would let her in. After a lot of finger-licking- face washing . . . she managed to convince a woman of her identity and finally arrived at the Oscars unmasqued and makeup intact.
Motivation has its own rewards.