Elizabeth Arden

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Elizabeth Arden
Elizabeth Arden NYWTS.jpg
Elizabeth Arden (1939)
Florence Nightingale Graham

(1878-12-31)December 31, 1878
DiedOctober 18, 1966(1966-10-18) (aged 87)
Manhattan, New York City, New York, US
OccupationBusinesswoman: Cosmetics
Racehorse owner/breeder

Florence Nightingale Graham (December 31, 1878 – October 18, 1966), who went by the business name Elizabeth Arden, 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 upscale salons across the United States and Europe. Her 1000 products were found in the luxury market in 22 countries. She was the sole owner, and at the peak of her career, she was one of the wealthiest women in the world.


Arden was born in 1878 in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada. Her parents had emigrated to Canada from Cornwall, United Kingdom, in the 1870s. Her father, William Graham, was Scottish, and her mother, Susan, was Cornish and had arranged for a wealthy aunt in Cornwall to pay for her children's education.[1] Arden dropped out of nursing school in Toronto.[2]

She then joined her elder brother in Manhattan, working briefly as a bookkeeper for the E. R. Squibb Pharmaceuticals Company. While there, Arden spent hours in their lab, learning about skincare. She then worked—again briefly—for Eleanor Adair, an early beauty culturist, as a "treatment girl".

In her salons and through her marketing campaigns, Elizabeth 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.

Elizabeth 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.

In politics, Elizabeth Arden was a strong conservative who supported Republicans.[3]


The footstone of Elizabeth Arden.
The grave of Elizabeth Arden in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

In 1909, Arden formed a partnership with Elizabeth Hubbard, another culturist. The business relationship dissolved after six months. Graham, who desired a trade name, used "Elizabeth" to save money on her salon signage. She chose the last name, "Arden", from a nearby farm. So the trade name "Elizabeth Arden" was formed. From there, Arden founded, in 1910, the Red Door salon in New York, 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 Paris beauty salons. She returned with a collection of rouges and tinted powders 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.[4]

In 1962, the French government awarded Arden the Légion d'Honneur, in recognition of her contribution to the cosmetics industry.[5]

In 2003, 5% of the company's shares were purchased by Mark Klein Laboratories.

In October 18, 1966, Arden died at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. She was interred in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York, under the name Elizabeth N. Graham.[6][7]

In popular culture[edit]

The musical War Paint dramatizes her rivalry with competitor Helena Rubinstein. After a wildly successful out of town 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 rival, Rubinstein.[8][9] The show did not catch on with audiences; scheduled for a December 30, 2017 close, the date was moved up to November 5, because of co-star Patti LuPone's needed hip surgery.[10]

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

Elizabeth Arden, as Florence Nightingale-Graham, appeared on the October 1, 2018 episode of the CBC period drama Murdoch Mysteries, portrayed by Kathryn Alexandre.[11]


  1. ^ Sawyers, June Skinner (1966). Famous Firsts of Scottish-Americans. Pelican Publishing, p. 11.
  2. ^ Davidson, Hilary. Frommer's Guide to Toronto 2004. p. 262. ISBN 0-7645-4060-2.
  3. ^ Lewis, Jone Johnson (2015). "Elizabeth Arden Biography". Retrieved April 7, 2015.
  4. ^ McMillan, Susan (June 13, 2014). "Former Elizabeth Arden estate on Long Pond for sale". Kennebec Journal. Augusta, Maine. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
  5. ^ "Who Was Elizabeth Arden?". ThoughtCo. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  6. ^ "The Original Beauty Queen: The Story of Elizabeth Arden". Hanna. January 30, 2017. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  7. ^ Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Locations 1480-1481). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.
  8. ^ "Tony Awards 2018 - Broadway.com". www.broadway.com. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  9. ^ "Tony Awards 2018 - Broadway.com". www.broadway.com. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  10. ^ "LuPone Surgery Forces 'War Paint' to Announce Early Closing". Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  11. ^ "Operation Murdoch". Retrieved October 4, 2018 – via www.imdb.com.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]