(1870 - 1965)
Aladdin had his lamp, Helena Rubinstein had her twelve
pots of face cream to help her become a multimillionaire
and a moving force in the cosmetic industry.
She was born in Cracow, Poland, on December 25, 1870,
the oldest of eight children of Augusta and Horace Rubinstein. She briefly
studied medicine in Switzerland and immigrated to Australia in 1902. She noticed that the Australian women had rough reddish faces
that required cosmetic attention. Rubinstein opened a modest shop in
Melbourne where she dispensed her "Creme Valaze" and instructed
women individually on how to care for their skin.
She worked long hours and her shop prospered. In 1908, her sister
Ceska joined her and took over the management of the shop as she
went to London with a $ 100,000 to start what would become an international organization.
She met Edward Titus, an American journalist in London, and they
were married in 1908. They had two sons, Roy, in 1908, and Horace in
1912. They lived in Paris and when World War I started, they moved
back to the United States. She opened beauty salons throughout the
country where her skin care and her creams were in demand. The
department stores were clamoring to sell her products.
Rubinstein was a brilliant innovator in developing her business so
that it required routines and women. She trained sales people to teach
women skin care and devised a diet plan for beauty. She inaugurated a
"Day of Beauty" in her salons which became an instant success. She
understood and appreciated the value of advertising and she made full
use of it in developing her business. She divorced
her husband in 1937 after a shaky marriage for the past ten years. She
married Prince Artchil Gourielli-Tchkonia. a Georgian prince twenty
years her junior, in 1938. She developed a line of male cosmetics which
bore his name. He died in 1956 and her son, Horace, died two years later.
Rubinstein was very much concerned and interested in the welfare
of Israel. She was very generous with monetary contributions. She founded
the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion of Contemporary Art in Tel
Aviv where her collection of miniature rooms is housed. The Helena
Rubinstein Foundation, created in 1953, provided the necessary funds
to organizations concerned with health, medical research and rehabilitation.
The Foundation also supported the American Israel Cultural Foundation
and awarded scholarships to Israelis.
Rubinstein hated small talk and was very frugal. She carried a bag
lunch to work with her although she was a very, wealthy woman with
over millions of dollars worth of the masters in art and sculpture.
Despite her frugality, she bought her clothes from the top fashion designers
in the industry. Her top executives in the business were relatives as
she was very family oriented.
In 1959, she went to Moscow where she officially represented the
cosmetic industry in the United States at the American National Exhibition.
Helena Rubinstein was always involved with her organization
and even when her health was failing, she carried on from her sick bed.
She died in New York City on April 1, 1965. Her philanthropy,
material support for Israel and her enhancement of women looking and feeling
more beautiful will long be remembered.
Sources: This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of American heroism included
Heroes & Heroines of America : 150 True Stories of American Jewish
Heroism, © 1996, written by Seymour "Sy" Brody
of Delray Beach, Florida, illustrated by Art Seiden of Woodmere, New York,
and published by Lifetime Books, Inc., Hollywood, FL.