That led to her becoming the host of a local public-service television show, which shared a studio with the CBS News program “Face the Nation.” One day a CBS producer, who noticed that Ms. Brown was putting makeup on her guests, even the men, came over to her and said, “Your people look wonderful and mine look terrible.” He hired her to make up his guests at $19 per session.
Her first customer for “Face the Nation” was the speaker of the House, Sam Rayburn. He thought makeup was for sissies, but the producers worried that his bald head would shine under the lights. They told Ms. Brown that she had to persuade him to let her work her magic.
She thought about it for a while, she recalled in a 2009 speech in Washington, then said to him, “Mr. Sam, if you let me powder your nose, I will not relieve you of your manhood.” Rayburn guffawed.
“Once he recovered,” she added, “he said, ‘Well, you just go ahead, honey.’”
She worked in makeup for 40 years in CBS News’s Washington bureau, where she met many movers and shakers appearing on “Face the Nation.” Her clients included the television journalists Walter Cronkite and Eric Sevareid as well as Eleanor Roosevelt in her post-White House years and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Those who became president would often call her over to the White House in advance of television appearances. John F. Kennedy may have looked like a natural on TV, but he worked at it, Ms. Brown said. “He drove us crazy,” she said, with constant questions like whether he should cross his legs (“whatever makes you comfortable”) and whether he should take voice lessons (“yes”). He followed her suggestion and attended a workshop in New York City on television technique.
“He wanted to understand what cameras and lights and lenses did to him,” she told The New York Times in 1994. “He would walk behind the cameras and ask the technical people: ‘How do you mix the audio? Why do you have this light there?’”