I came across an interesting article featuring American red headed actress "Billie" Burke, the wife of Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. in an old issue of Theatre Magazine. You may remember her as "Glinda the Good Witch" in the 1939 Wizard of Oz film.
Theatre Magazine, Volume 35, 1922:
Billie Burke has told us a very interesting thing in connection with perfumes... Miss Burke, who is playing in Booth Tarkington's "Intimate Strangers" at the Henry Miller Theatre, "loves perfumes". Not too well, but wisely...She has made a great study of them.
"Perfumes are stimulating, and they are soothing" she says, "They are stimulating for yourself as well as for the people round you . And nothing can appeal more to the imagination or more quickly revive old memories and sentiments than a perfume. If I were a woman trying to resuscitate the embers of a dying flame, ' laughed Miss Burke, 'I should lean heavily on the perfume end of it...the perfume he loved in the days that were, so to speak.
Though as a matter of fact that wouldn't do in my own case, because I use so many perfumes...this for a certain dress or occasion, or mood, that for another one...I think many modern women do, don't you...I know a lot of them, especially actresses...instead of having just one, as they used to. It is the newer note. Still there's much to be said on both sides."
But that's not the particular" interesting thing" we started out to tell you..Only, we knew you'd like to hear whatever Miss Burke had to say...She is so individual...and there is no more fascinating subject in the world than perfumes...
No...what she said that peculiarly arrested our attention was, that she is so devoted to perfumes...they mean so much to her and she is so sensitive to their influence, that on many occasions she even gets a special. perfume for the part she is going to play.
"To have a perfume that seems to fit the personality of the woman I am going to impersonate helps put me 'into' the mood and character. It was a bit difficult to get the right perfume for Isabel in "The Intimate Strangers"...it had to be a perfume very feminine, something typical of many women, yet with a modern note... a blend of the old and the new. Nothing in my own repertoire of perfumes seemed just 'it'. I went around to several of my favorite perfume counters sniffing and sniffing.
"Finally, my pet saleswoman said, "Try this violet, Miss Burke"...Violet, I thought, that's the right idea...that's what I want...and this violet was absolutely delicious...just like the fresh flowers. And what do you suppose! I was so astonished...it was an American make, a well-known American manufacturer I had never thought I could use anything but French perfumes before. If I had known these American manufacturers could compete so successfully with the French, I should have included their perfumes in my collection long ago. Since then, I have bought several of them...their rose is as delicious as their violet...it, too, smells like the fresh flower....and there is an enticing Oriental odor."
The moral of Miss Burke's tale is two fold:
First, we says to ourself, says we, if perfume can help put an actress 'into' a personality on the stage, why can't it help in the same way off the stage? It can....Choose the type of lady you wish to be for the day or the hour, a languorous Oriental type...a sweet demure, young thing...a 'blend of the old and new' (as Miss Burke called it) and let your perfume black-magic you into your part. How about it?
Second, take to heart what Miss Burke says about the merits of the American perfumes!