(Roughly) Daily

“Sooner or later, everything old is new again”*…

 

Madame Yale

Maude Mayberg, a.k.a. Madame Yale, in her “laboratory”

 

On an April afternoon in 1897, thousands of women packed the Boston Theatre to see the nation’s most beguiling female entrepreneur, a 45-year-old former homemaker whose talent for personal branding would rival that of any Instagram celebrity today. She called herself Madame Yale. Over the course of several hours and multiple outfit changes, she preached her “Religion of Beauty,” regaling the audience with tales of history’s most beautiful women, a group that included Helen of Troy, the Roman goddess Diana and, apparently, Madame Yale.

The sermon was her 11th public appearance in Boston in recent years, and it also covered the various lotions and potions—products that Yale just happened to sell—that she said had transformed her from a sallow, fat, exhausted woman into the beauty who stood on stage: her tall, hourglass figure draped at one point in cascading white silk, her blond ringlets falling around a rosy-cheeked, heart-shaped face. Applause thundered. The Boston Herald praised her “offer of Health and Beauty” in a country where “every woman wants to be well and well-looking.”

Madame Yale had been delivering “Beauty Talks” coast to coast since 1892, cannily promoting herself in ways that would be familiar to consumers in 2020. She was a true pioneer in what business gurus would call the wellness space—a roughly $4.5 trillion industry globally today—and that achievement alone should command attention. Curiously, though, she went from celebrated to infamous virtually overnight, and her story, largely overlooked by historians, is all the more captivating as a cautionary tale…

A century before today’s celebrity health gurus, an American businesswoman was a beauty with a brand: “Madame Yale Made a Fortune With the 19th Century’s Version of Goop.”

* Stephen King’s version of an age-old adage (in The Colorado Kid)

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As we contemplate comeliness, we might spare a thought for writer who explored our fascination with fascinating, Philip Kindred Dick; he died on this date in 1982.  A novelist, short story writer, essayist and philosopher, Dick published 44 novels and 121 short stories, nearly all in the Science Fiction genre.  While he was recognized only within his field in his lifetime, and lived near poverty for much of his adult life, twelve popular films and TV series have been based on his work since his death in 1982 (including Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, The Adjustment BureauImpostor, and the Netflix series The Man in the High Castle).  In 2005, Time magazine named Ubik one of the hundred greatest English-language novels published since 1923; and in 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.

 source

We might also note that it’s the birthday of Chris Martin, front man of the inexplicably-popular pop group Coldplay, and the “consciously uncoupled” ex of Gwyneth Paltrow, the heir to Madame Yale.

Chris_Martin-viva-cropped source

 

 

Written by LW

March 2, 2020 at 1:01 am

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