This morning I woke to the news that Phil Spector died. It instantly sparked a memory of standing in his previously blood-soaked foyer, powder puff in hand, where a dead woman had sat in a chair having been shot in the head. I remembered seeing the crispy black weeds that crawled throughout his yard as I pulled up to his house. They surrounded an adobe palace inconspicuously placed in an ordinary neighborhood in Los Angeles. It looked scary, deserted, and even haunted. This was where I put makeup on his new young wife, Rachelle Short, upstairs in her bathroom, amongst the piles of clothes that lay strewed across her bed and floor. Phil Spector was in jail while I walked through his home.
There was an assortment of clothes that had been pulled from the long row of hanging racks that filled the upstairs sitting area at the top of the stairs. I had never seen so many clothing racks or such a mess in a celebrity home. This didn’t account for the piles of handbags that had no home, but lay in a heap in hope of being chosen. The owner seemed as scattered as her belongings, but she was certain of one thing, Phil Spector was innocent. The thing the rest of us were certain about was that she was going to inherit a huge fortune. Phil Spector was a very successful music producer, having produced songs for The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Cher, The Ramones, and countless others. What we didn’t know was that after the last several years of burning through his fortune, Spector finally divorced Short in 2016 while in jail. His enormous fortune will now go to his family.
It wasn’t the first time I had experienced a sad situation morbidly curious by the world. I had sat in Michael Jackson’s bedroom, the one he died in, and on the very same bed. The foundation he used to write notes with was still scribbled across his mirror, telling himself what date to be “full out” at rehearsal. Not that day, but the day he died, I had been called by Good Morning America to do makeup on Kenny Ortega, his dear friend and director of the This is It tour and documentary. He was in tears while I held mine back.
Makeup Artistry can often lead to locations and adventures you’d never dream of being at if it weren’t for being a makeup artist. It often leads to getting an inside glimpse of a celebrity’s life that the media will never know. I’ve been to many celebrity homes and it is always interesting to see how the person I only knew from the screen lives in real life. The life of a makeup artist is no ordinary life, and sometimes I am reminded of that when a celebrity passes away. There have been many legendary actors I have worked on that are gone now.
The incredible memories and stories from my career as a makeup artist will last forever though, and the new ones will keep growing, as long as I am a makeup artist!
Written by Celena Rubin, Owner of The Art of Makeup School