Silent Era Movie Tie-In: May McAvoy, Carmel Myers, Dislocated Wrists and Ben Hur Perfume

Movie tie-in products are not new, though Ben Hur perfume pre-dated the 1925 motion picture by at least two decades. May McAvoy and Carmel Myers, the romantic lead and the vamp, respectively, each took a turn extolling the perfume’s virtues.

(By the way, if you’re interested, I wrote a massive Ben-Hur review a few years back.)

Carmel Myers’ famous white wig was selected to raise eyebrows, though it is perhaps less shocking to modern viewers used to wigs on revelers.

May McAvoy also felt that Ben Hur perfume was just the thing.

As you can see in the ad, May McAvoy is shown driving a chariot. According to McAvoy, she was too petite for the task and her wrists were actually dislocated while trying to control the horses. Yipes! And the worst of it? The scene was cut from the finished film.

Cleopatra’s Boudoir describes the perfume as sweet and musky, a rose scent with ylang-ylang and tonka. It was produced by Jergens and was an inexpensive scent widely available at major chain stores.

Have you smelled Ben Hur perfume? What was it like? Do let me know if you have any experience with this scent.


  1. Marie Roget

    I’m not a big perfume wearer anymore, but Ben Hur sounds divine! Ylang ylang and rose with tonic to temper it…heady stuff! I’ve got a nice ylang ylang essential oil on hand here and a lovely rose oil from Mountain Rose Herbs, so perhaps an experiment is in order.

    Have always loved Carmel Myers’ white wig- it seemed so outré when I was younger. Maybe that and the costume, plus her movements, mark her immediately on screen as a villainess? Silents had this visual code that the audience could read in every scene if they were paying attention, and they must have always been, unlike today 😉

      1. Marie Roget

        You wanted to know: I blended the ylang ylang and rose oils with some jojoba to stabilize and ease the impact of one on the other and…wow. Not having any tonka oil (notice it was autocorrected to tonic upstairs) I added a minute drop of almond oil from the kitchen and drop of vanilla. I’d definitely wear it! Sort of reminds me of a couple of YSL scents if you blended them together: Rive Gauche and their classic, Y.

  2. Shari Polikoff

    Not exactly the most feminine or glamorous name they could have given it. But ‘daughter,’ instead of ‘son’ of Hur would be Bas or Bat Hur, which sounds even worse.

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