Elizabeth Arden

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Elizabeth Arden
Pictured in 1939
Florence Nightingale Graham

(1881-12-31)December 31, 1881
DiedOctober 18, 1966(1966-10-18) (aged 84)
Resting placeSleepy Hollow Cemetery, Sleepy Hollow, New York, U.S.
Other namesElizabeth N. Graham
Occupation(s)Businesswoman (cosmetics)
Racehorse owner/breeder
Thomas Jenkins Lewis
(m. 1915; div. 1934)
Prince Michael Evlanoff
(m. 1942; div. 1944)

Elizabeth Arden (born Florence Nightingale Graham; December 31, 1881 – October 18, 1966), also known as Elizabeth N. Graham,[2] was a Canadian-American businesswoman who founded what is now Elizabeth Arden, Inc., and built a cosmetics empire in the United States. By 1929, she owned 150 salons in Europe and the United States.[citation needed] Her 1,000 products were being sold in 22 countries.[citation needed] She was the sole owner, and at the peak of her career, she was one of the wealthiest women in the world.[citation needed]


She was born as Florence Nightingale Graham on her family's farm in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada. She played with her birth date, but although her birth record seems to have disappeared, census records and a statutory declaration by her older brother, William Pearce Graham [1877-1959] both put the date at 1881. The property is currently home to the Vaughan Grove community. Her parents had immigrated to Canada from Cornwall, United Kingdom, in the 1870s. Her father, William Graham, was Scottish and her mother, Susan (née Tadd), was Cornish and had arranged for a wealthy aunt in Cornwall to pay for her children's education.[3]

After dropping out of nursing school in Toronto,[4] she joined her elder brother in Manhattan, working briefly as a bookkeeper for the E.R. Squibb pharmaceutical company.[2] While there, Arden spent hours in their lab, learning about skincare. She then worked for Eleanor Adair, an early beauty culturist, as a "treatment girl".

In her salons and through her marketing campaigns, Arden stressed teaching women how to apply makeup and pioneered such concepts as scientific formulation of cosmetics, beauty makeovers, and coordinating colors of eye, lip and facial makeup.[citation needed]

Arden was largely responsible for establishing makeup as proper and appropriate, even necessary, for a ladylike image, when before makeup had often been associated with lower classes and prostitutes. She targeted middle age and plain women for whom beauty products promised a youthful, beautiful image.[citation needed]

Arden was allegedly a dedicated suffragette, and there is a story that she marched for women's rights in 1912. It is a popular fiction that she supplied the marchers with red lipstick as a sign of solidarity,[5][6] but there is little contemporary evidence supporting this.[7] Women taking part in the 1912 march were advised to wear the same $7 straw hat, wear white, and to bring their children, to demonstrate their responsibility and simplicity. The use of cosmetics was never mentioned, which is hardly surprising: bold red lipstick still had tawdry associations with the theatre. Even as late as 1920 Arden herself was dismissive of "powder and rouge..so obvious in their artifice that their use was considered in questionable taste".[8]


In 1909, Arden formed a partnership with Elizabeth Hubbard, another culturist. The business relationship dissolved in 1910.[9] Wanting to have a trade name, she used "Elizabeth" to save money on her salon signs. She chose the last name, "Arden", from a nearby farm. Thus the trade name "Elizabeth Arden" was formed.[6] From there, Arden founded the Red Door salon in New York in 1910, which has remained synonymous with her name ever since (see under Elizabeth Arden, Inc.).[citation needed]

In 1912, Arden traveled to France to learn beauty and facial massage techniques used in the Parisian beauty salons. She returned with a collection of rouges and tinted powders that she had created. She began expanding her international operations in 1915 and started opening salons across the world. In 1934, she opened the Maine Chance residential spa in Rome, Maine, the first destination beauty spa in the United States. It operated until 1970.[10]

In 1962, the French government awarded Arden the Légion d'Honneur, in recognition of her contribution to the cosmetics industry.[1]

Horse racing[edit]

Arden was involved in the sport of Thoroughbred racing for many years. Her stable, Maine Chance Farm (named for her spa), owned – among other stakes winners – the 1947 Kentucky Derby winner Jet Pilot.


The footstone of Elizabeth Arden (listed as Elizabeth N. Graham)
The headstone of Elizabeth Arden in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (under the family name of Graham)

Arden died at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan on October 18, 1966. She was interred in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York, under the name Elizabeth N. Graham.[11][12]

In popular culture[edit]

The musical War Paint dramatizes her rivalry with competitor Helena Rubinstein. After a successful tryout at Chicago's Goodman Theater, the show opened on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre on April 6, 2017, earning four Tony Award nominations, including Best Actress in a Leading Role for Christine Ebersole's portrayal of Arden, as well as for Patti Lupone for her role as Rubinstein.[13] and closed on November 5, 2017.[14]

The comedy Lip Service by the Australian dramatist John Misto chronicles the life and career of Helena Rubinstein and her rivalry with Elizabeth Arden and Revlon. Lip Service premiered April 26, 2017, at the Park Theatre in London, under the title Madame Rubinstein,[15] before opening at Sydney's Ensemble Theatre in August of the same year.

Elizabeth Arden, as student nurse Florence Nightingale Graham, appeared in the Season 12 Episode 2 of the CBC period drama Murdoch Mysteries, (premiered on October 1, 2018, Season 12, Episode 2), portrayed by Kathryn Alexandre.[16]

A contract dispute that Arden faced with a former employee led the 1953 court case Crabtree v. Elizabeth Arden Sales Corp, which is now considered a seminal case on the application of the statute of frauds.[citation needed] Most law schools include this case in their required contract law course.[citation needed] (It is curious that "Graham's" love interest in the Murdoch Mysteries was named "Crabtree".)


  1. ^ a b "Who Was Elizabeth Arden?". ThoughtCo. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Arden, Elizabeth (1878–1966)". encyclopedia.com. Retrieved May 27, 2023.
  3. ^ Sawyers, June Skinner (1996). Famous Firsts of Scottish-Americans. Pelican Publishing Company. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-56554-122-1.
  4. ^ Davidson, Hilary (December 5, 2003). Frommer's Toronto 2004. Wiley. p. 262. ISBN 978-0-7645-4060-8.
  5. ^ "Elizabeth Arden - Entrepreneur - Biography". www.biography.com. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Lewis, Jone Johnson (2015). "ThoughtCo". Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  7. ^ www.portfoliobox.net. "Elizabeth Arden and the Case of the Missing Lipstick". Catherine Buckland. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
  8. ^ Arden, Elizabeth (1920). The Quest for the Beautiful. p. 4.
  9. ^ "BUSINESS TROUBLES". New York Times. August 16, 1910.
  10. ^ McMillan, Susan (June 13, 2014). "Former Elizabeth Arden estate on Long Pond for sale". Kennebec Journal. Augusta, Maine. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
  11. ^ "The Original Beauty Queen: The Story of Elizabeth Arden". Hanna. January 30, 2017. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  12. ^ Wilson, Scott (August 19, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. pp. 1480–1481 (Kindle locations). ISBN 978-1-4766-2599-7.
  13. ^ "Tony Awards 2018 - Broadway.com". www.broadway.com. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  14. ^ Libbey, Peter (October 13, 2017). "LuPone Surgery Forces 'War Paint' to Announce Early Closing". The New York Times. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  15. ^ Madame Rubinstein by John Misto, thesoandsoartsclub.com. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  16. ^ "Operation Murdoch". Retrieved October 4, 2018 – via www.imdb.com.

General references[edit]

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