On Wednesday, Feb. 28 Cinema Secrets founder and longtime make-up artist Maurice Stein passed away after a long illness. According to a family statement, he died peacefully surrounded by family at his home in Woodland Hills, Calif. He was 84.
Stein worked as a make-up artist on more than 200 films and TV shows ranging from Funny Girl and the original Planet of the Apes to The Golden Girls and M*A*S*H. He had more than 4,000 commercials to his credit. The Make-up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild Local 706 says Stein was the first make-up artist inducted to the California Cosmetology Association Hall of Fame and included in the National Cosmetology Association Hall of Renown. He served two terms as Local 706 vice president, was involved with the “Deb Star Ball” and the annual picnic, served many years on the Local 706 Welfare Committee, and was a generous educator in numerous classes for 706 members.
In 1985, looking to change the course of his career, Stein and his wife, Barbara, opened make-up retail outlet Cinema Secrets in Southern California’s Toluca Lake/Burbank area. The store has been serving the film and TV industry, as well as walk-in trade, ever since.
“I decided that we didn’t have a good professional location where make-up artists and hairdressers could go to get products and to talk to people like themselves,” Stein said in an interview with Make-Up Artist magazine for Issue 113. “I hired professional make-up artists, licensed cosmetologists and estheticians. When someone came into the store, they wouldn’t be talking to a salesperson. They’d be talking to someone who had done it.”
Also in that interview, Stein remembered young artists who came to him years ago and have gone on to win Oscars and Emmys. He proudly described the desk drawer filled with thank-you notes from all over the world.
“They’ve called me the maestro,” Stein said. “My ego has been stroked by those who have let me know how much I’ve helped them get to where they are today. You couldn’t ask for more than that.”
Cinema Secrets is a family affair. Originally, Stein took care of the creative side, while his business-savvy wife, Barbara, served as president. But then he made what he called a “sneaky father” move. “When I started Cinema Secrets, I offered my three children full partnerships,” he said in Issue 113. “As the business grew, their investment grew, and it made it harder for them to even think about moving.”
Son Michael, also a make-up artist, is Cinema Secrets’ CEO. Danny, a high schooler when the store opened, puts his marketing and finance degree to good use as CFO. Daughter Debra, who studied cosmetology, runs the hair division and is the store’s principal buyer. Grandson Jon runs the Woochie make-up effects line.
Perhaps Maurice Stein’s greatest contributions to the world are his philanthropic efforts. For 30-plus years, Stein worked with burn survivors by teaching them how to use make-up to improve their appearance. Local 706 says he was one of the first make-up professionals to provide his corrective make-up techniques and educational services to the national Look Good, Feel Better Program.
In Issue 117, Stein estimated that he helped hundreds of burn survivors. He also shared his techniques with estheticians and nurses. Stein visited every major burn center in the United States, including the Johns Hopkins and the Grossman burn centers. He also worked with the support group Phoenix Society to reach more people in need.
Cinema Secrets offers many products under its own label, including the silicone-based Cinema Secrets PRO Cosmetics, which has become the standard in the medical world for covering burn scars. “Our make-up is the only one recommended,” said Stein in Issue 117. “I ended up creating something that isn’t just for on-camera use, but that the medical industry really feels is the best. It’s my way of officially giving back.”
Reflecting on Stein’s passing, Make-Up Artist magazine publisher Michael Key says, “Maurice was a colorful character. I knew him for over 30 years. As a young guy starting out I always enjoyed our chats about life and our industry. I admire what he achieved as an entrepreneur. He cared about quality and class, and Maurice had a big heart. He was energized by using his gifts and resources to help others.”
“I can’t think of anyone who helped the profession in more different ways than Maurice Stein,” says Emmy-winning make-up artist John Goodwin. “He taught classes for those pursuing make-up in films and TV as a vocation and he was never too busy to give advice to those in need of it or introduce new artists to ‘the old pros.’ Celebrities of all kinds adored him, not just because of his artistry but he was fun to be around and keeping that spirit alive is not an easy task with long hours and exhausting locations—but he did it.”
Continues Goodwin, “He had style and more than once stood up against producers and directors that had no respect for our craft and was always ready to give of himself to Local 706 projects or charities of all kinds. If you didn’t know Maurice he could seem to come on a little strong at first, but soon you realized he had a big heart and a strong dedication to his craft. … I’ll miss him as a friend—as all of us will miss him professionally.”
Stein is survived by his wife, Barbara, and their children Michael, Danny and Debra. The family said in a Facebook statement, “Maurice’s family would like to thank everyone for their love and well wishes sent during this trying time. Your messages of support were shown to Maurice and we know he appreciated them.”
Services will be held at Mount Sinai Hollywood Hills on Sunday, March 4 at 9 a.m. All who would like to attend are welcome. For those who are unable to attend in person, Stein’s service will be live streamed on mountsinaiparks.org. Log in information will be provided on the Cinema Secrets social media pages when it becomes available.