The Maybelline Prince: Danne Montague King
A mysterious fire and the carnage are irreparable. The site horrific and the end result would take the life of the home and the person who lived in it. As author, hairdresser and cosmetic king, Danne Montague-King relives that experience, describes what he saw and takes readers back to the beginning where life was complicated yet simple and one man’s passions are revealed. Imagine shopping with stars like Diana Ross and Jane Russell for their own personal wigs. The setting is Newport Beach in the 60’s an exciting time. Danne lived a life so many envied and would have loved. Living in the home of Maybelline heiress, Evelyn F. Williams. Walking directly into his shop changed the entire course of his life forever. Living with Evelyn as her friend, adopted nephew, companion and the one person she relied on and trusted, when she died in a strange fire, rumors flew and his reputation became tarnished and many thought that he was into drugs, associated with the mafia and unusual sex. This is an outstanding tribute to an amazing and wonderful woman that everyone will want to read. The Maybelline Prince is not just the story of Danne and Evelyn but the story of Maybelline itself, a roller rink, helping youngsters stay out of trouble and an era that was filled with excitement, drugs, the birth of my favorite music, rock’n’roll and don’t forget Woodstock.
Evelyn Williams had her own style and personality. She was headstrong, vibrant and at times you might even say vulnerable to the whims of others. Creating a place where kids could skate, put on shows and express themselves she became quite an icon among the younger set. Living in Hot Springs, Arkansas both Evelyn and Danne took the town and the people by storm in their own flamboyant ways. This is only part one of the story as we meet many men who came after Danne, learned about his relationships and the fallout from some of them, lies that were told all around and one man who would learn never to come between Danne or Evelyn. A man who haunted Evelyn’s waking hour and a scene that was priceless right out of an Al Capone movie.
In an era known for drugs, free love, many who could care less if you were straight, gay or even transgender. The Maybelline King introduces readers to many different worlds. When life was tough and Danne could not face things head on, Evelyn was always there to center him, create a diversion or work on the many lucrative endeavors they started together. The roller rink, the shows that even included her granddaughter dancing in public and her quite and more reserved grandson Preston staying in the background, Danne played more than just an integral part of her business life, he was a true friend.
Life does not always follow the road that you set out on and obstacles often come in your way. Danne was not always well received by all of the members of Evelyn’s family. Working hard to promote the roller rink and later transforming it into The Palace would prove more than hard work, create tension in his personal relationships and teach him the meaning of trust and betrayal in ways you or Danne would never expect. Creating skin care products and wigs for Evelyn was his joy and the way she appeared each time they attended an event created quite a stir. She was strong willed, smart and definitely knew what she wanted. Even when preparing her will she wanted Danne to receive more. But, he was not there for the money, glory or fame, he was there for her!
Imagine coming home with his live in partner, Steve and seeing a cloud of smoke rising over Maybelline Mansion. Imagine entering the home and finding the one person who helped you become who you are, believed in you and trusted you far beyond anyone else was now gone. Charred, burned due to an accidental fire that some thought was murder. Did Sam Saleem try to finish her off? Was it the Mafia or as some thought Danne? Did he have a hand in it and why was he being questioned? Even more telling is what happened when the will and its contents were revealed and her son took all that he worked for away from him. The Palace was special and Bill Williams was incapable of running it and rather than allow Danne to continue on he went the low route. Losing everything, moving around and having to find a place for himself, dealing with broken relationships, trying to find his niche in the world, Danne realized his life was in skin care and making everyone of all races have great skin. But, this took research, backing and years of trial and error as well as working with many different people. Imagine Danne being asked to speak to FBI agents about being gay! You have to read what he said, how he reacted to many of the questions and just plain applaud. But, Danne wanted his own brand, his own identity and acceptance into a world that was not quite ready for him. Meeting Oprah was enlightening and listening to a guest on her show speak about skin care for all races quite astonishing as Danne realized the errors in what the guest was relating. Many different backers, many different companies that did well, failed and finally his association with the Harvey Milk Foundation and changing his name to Danne Montague King. This is a story that transcends decades and will never die.
From Power and Legend to a career in aesthetics Danne’s life was filled with change, unpredictable events, meeting many influential people starting with Mary Anderson after losing Evelyn and followed by becoming Danne Montague King for the rest of his life! In Chapter 25 he relates his brief meeting with Oprah and then the birth of Danne Skin Revision in Chapter 26. Excited when he finally decides to put his name on the door, take ownership of his product and within chapter 29 he explains the many types of skin, how products are germane to different skin colors, races and how using the wrong chemistry to take “ care of skin can turn defense mechanisms into skin problems, premature ageing and all other anomalies that we don’t like when we look in the mirror.” The remainder of the chapter is quite interesting as he focuses on his African skin research and how he used the analogy of the ageing differences of white and black skins. The rest I would be cheating the reader if I gave away all of the great information and secrets in this book. You need to uncover them yourself! Queens and Other Ladies followed by his time in China will keep readers focused and wanting more. Creating Bio Freeze, which gave him his first big start and then DEEP FREEZE “Proved to be the ultimate COME BACK KID! Danne’s career skyrocketed so many times and now he is the head of DMK. But, the most touching story was the one he relates to readers about judging the 2013 Miss Universe Contest and what he did for one of the contestants and her brother. Just how did he create a new life for a teen who was about to call it quits on life you just won’t believe until you read pages 337-338 and make sure you have some tissues on hand. Understanding Aides, helping victims, caring for others and explaining his pet peeves with charlatans this book takes readers inside another world that most would never learn, know or enter. The final chapter tells how he aligned with the Harvey Milk Global Company. “Human Rights, Social Rights, Civil Rights, LGBT Rights,” are just some of what he fought for and now he in this final chapter endorses and supports the Harvey Milk Global Campaign. Talking about his work with transgender women telling us of the many people he met and supported including Gina Duncan a successful businesswoman, Danne met Stuart Milk and his life changed. Doors opened, meeting Nancy Pelosi, Caitlin O’Neil and the rest is for you to read and find out for yourself. Evelyn Williams started it all guiding him in the direction she thought he should go. A woman with a vision who would not stop until she achieved her goal but most of all she loved life and when it came to self-preservation he knew “she had to last a long time and wanting the front row seat to always have her name on it.” Danne she would be proud of who you are today and all that you have accomplished. I imagine that you hear her voice at times in your head directing you and making sure you are centered. At times I felt that the author was speaking directly to me in the way he relates his narrative.
The Maybelline Prince or just an amazing businessman that never gave up on himself, his goals and will always be in the heart of the one person who believed in him the most: EVELYN WILLIAMS. BIOFREEZE, DMK, Foundations, DMK skin revisions and DEEP FREEZE and much more are just some of what he ahs created. Thank you for the honor of reading and reviewing your title and thank you for all that you has done for so many. Informative, interesting and quite educational this book is one that will always remain on my shelf.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer