Kathleen Court Cosmetics

Kathleen Court Cosmetics............

Kathleen Court was a young married Englishwoman when in 1925 she emigrated to Australia with her husband Terence O’Shea.  On the ships log Terence gave his occupation as “advertising”.  The O’Shee’s established a cosmetics company under Kathleen’s maiden name, Kathleen Court.  A very attractive young woman Kathleen entered several beauty contests probably as a single woman as married women were usually not permitted to enter such competitions.  She entered as Kathleen Court, not Kathleen O’Shee her married name.Kathleen was reasonably successful in small local competitions and in 1927 she won the Glaciarium Bathing Beauty Contest with her prize being a trip to Hollywood.  It appears that Kathleen had already tried her luck in Hollywood as she is listed (under her married name of Kathleen O'Shee) amongst the cast of Cecil B. DeMille’s silent movie classic The Ten Commandments made in 1923.   Kathleen spent 14 months is the USA and finally returned after Terence made promises that he would make her extremely wealthy if only she would come back.

Kathleen embarked on a series of promotional activities, visiting large department stores and demonstrating the use of her cosmetics using the novel (at the time) approach of using live models.   It should be remembered that in the late 20s early 30s using cosmetics was a fairly new idea for many women.   It was actually the film stars of the day who made the use of cosmetics universal and having an actual “movie star” showing you how to use the products to the best advantage was a sure winner.

Kathleen and Terence were fairly innovative.     They developed a novelty line in lipsticks which were produced in a match book.   Each match had on its head one application of lipstick.   A court case ensued with the supplier of the matches.   The Kathleen Court Company did not accept the initial products from the suppler stating that they crumbled on application.     In 1931 the couple opened a type of one stop shop for women, clothes, hats and accessories and of course cosmetics and in 1932 they travelled to Singapore where they hoped to promote their products to the women of the Malay States and Java.

Throughout the 1930s Kathleen continued to travel and lecture about beauty and the use of cosmetics.    She travelled overseas to Europe and the UK to see the latest trends and on her return even mentioned in her lectures that Cosmetics, however, were still used by German women, despite Hitler's endeavors to stop them and that notices such as “German Women do not Smoke” and “German Women do not Use Lipstick” were displayed about the country, but not very much attention was paid to them. 

In 1938 Terence appears to have left Kathleen and in 1947 she filed for a divorce claiming desertion.  At much the same time Terence claimed sole ownership of the business which was disputed by Kathleen.

Over the years Kathleen was often mentioned in the social pages of the newspaper, attending a ball or perhaps at the races.   Kathleen and Terence had one daughter, Darilyn, who married an American man in 1952 and moved to the USA.   Kathleen eventually moved to the USA herself, living in Hawaii and she died there in 2004, aged 105.