Turning a mid-life crisis into a multi-million dollar biz: one woman’s story

FX makeup artist Bobbie Weiner is a master of transformation: she's created fake burns, bullet holes, and frostbite. Known around Hollywood as "Bloody Mary," she even turned 200 extras on the set of the blockbuster Titanic into drowned, frozen corpses. But Weiner's most dramatic reinvention was of herself.

In 1993, Weiner's husband of ten years, a prominent Los Angeles surgeon abruptly demanded a divorce. Gone were the big house, the boat, and the tennis club. She was forty-six, alone, and nearly broke. Sitting at a hair salon for what she assumed would be her last touch-up, she told a stylist she needed to get a job quick. He suggested that she study to become a makeup artist for film and television. "This was on a Thursday," she says, "and Monday morning I was sitting at the school."

Weiner's first movie job was on the set of cult horror flick, Pumpkin Head II-- which is where she earned the nickname "Bloody Mary." Two other students had already turned down the gig because the pay was only $35 for about 15 hours on the set. If they had only known where the job might lead.

After that first opportunity, Weiner never stopped working. Initially, she worked mainly on horror films. "I did a lot of research," she says. For Weiner, research meant checking out the hospital emergency room late on Saturday nights to see what was being rolled in and visiting funeral parlors. "That's how I saw what a person looks like when they are dead."

Her big break came when she was given a shot at working on Titanic. "They [the producers] were sitting there with a timer and I made someone dead in seven minutes. That's how I got the job." After Titanic, one of Leonardo DiCaprio's stunt doubles asked her to do his face paint for a San Diego Chargers' football game. "Already, my brain was going," she says. Three weeks later, she had pre-sold a line of line of sports fan make up to more than 40 colleges.

Still, Weiner couldn't get a bank loan of $10,000 in order to actually produce the makeup. Her solution? She sold her car for enough cash to make it happen. At about the same time, Weiner appeared on the morning news to make the newscasters look like victims of the Titanic disaster. An officer from Marine Corps base Camp Pendleton happened to be watching. When he heard her movie makeup had lasted for five to six hours in 90-degree water, he asked to her to create new camouflage paint for his troops. According to Weiner, she called her dad for advice and he said, "You just keep telling them you can do it and you will figure it out Bobbie." She did.

After Weiner's camouflage line, came her "Bloody Mary" brand Halloween makeup including jugs of fake blood and fangs. Weiner never turned down a job or walked away from an opportunity. Referring to her achievements, she says, "There is no such thing as an overnight success. You gotta crawl before you can walk."

Has her success changed her? "I feel blessed, I feel lucky" Weiner says. "I'm still me, but with some extra zeroes."

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