|Sleepy Hollow, NY||October 31, 2021|
Many Americans of wealth and influence live in the New York metropolitan area, and a great deal of them reside there in death, too. One is Elizabeth Arden, a Canadian immigrant, racehorse owner, and philanthropist who founded one of the most innovative cosmetics companies of the early twentieth century. The businesswoman is buried 30 miles upriver from Midtown Manhattan, in the farthest reaches of Sleep Hollow Cemetery. She is interred in a plot with a monument marked with her original surname of “Graham.” This image shows the entire lot, which also includes five smaller markers. Arden’s name is carved into the second from the left in the row of four stones.
Before her venture into cosmetics, Arden worked as a nurse. It was a fitting first profession, as her birth name was Florence Nightingale Graham, in honor of the Crimean War’s “Lady with the Lamp.” Arden is buried under the moniker Elizabeth N. Graham, a hybrid of her two names. Her gravestone does not include a birth year — only Arden’s death year of 1966. The mogul’s birth year varies among sources, but after her passing, her spokesman claimed it was 1884. She shares the stone with Lillian Graham. Based on Lillian’s birth year of 1877, I hypothesize that she was Elizabeth’s older sister.
Arden administered creams and salves during her nursing career, and she saw their potential not just to heal, but to beautify — a novel idea at the time. She moved to New York circa 1908 to pursue her dreams. Arden worked at a beauty salon, according to a write-up on her company’s website, “and mastered the art of the facial massage, under the tutelage of the one of the premier beauty gurus of the time.” She opened the Red Door Salon with business partner Elizabeth Hubbard in 1910 (the first of many such salons Arden would own around the globe). It has been popularized that in 1912 Arden marched down Fifth Avenue to provide suffragettes with red lipstick, but contemporary evidence is lacking. She certainly did, however, introduce travel-size toiletries and pioneer the notion that makeup should not cover a woman’s face, but rather be used in a complementary manner to showcase natural beauty. Arden’s company was also the first to disperse traveling cosmetics demonstrators and saleswomen.
Born: December 31, 1884 in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada
Spouses: Thomas Jenkins Lewis (m. 1915-1934); Prince Michael Evlanoff (m. 1942-1944)
Died: October 16, 1966 in New York, New York
Cause of Death: Heart Attack
Interment: Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Sleepy Hollow, New York
"If you read the papers, you will notice that no girl with short hair has made an advantageous marriage lately. So what's the sense of looking like a shaved bulldog?"
- Elizabeth Arden
Sources Consulted and Further Reading
Calogera, Kaitlin and Rebecca Grawl. 111 Places in Women’s History in Washington That You Must Not Miss. Cologne, Germany: Emons Verlag, 2021.
New York Times. “Elizabeth Arden Is Dead at 81; Made Beauty a Global Business.” October 19, 1966. Page 1. https://www.nytimes.com/1966/10/19/archives/elizabeth-arden-is-dead-at-81-made-beauty-a-global-business.html.
Revlon. “About Elizabeth Arden.” Accessed February 19, 2023. https://corporate.elizabetharden.com/about-elizabeth-arden/.
Revlon. “Elizabeth Arden: Our Heritage: Early Start – Profile of a Pioneer.” Accessed February 19, 2023. https://corporate.elizabetharden.com/timeline/.