Evelyn Lauder (Evelyn Lauder)

Evelyn Lauder

She was born Evelyn Hausner in Vienna, Austria in 1936 to a Jewish family. Lauder’s family fled Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938, using their household silver to get visas to Belgium. They then moved on to England where her mother was sent to an internment camp on the Isle of Man and Evelyn was placed in a nursery. The family arrived in New York City in 1940. Lauder would later recall that she was asleep when the ship bringing them to the United States arrived in New York Harbor and her mother woke her up to see the Statue of Liberty. During the war years her father worked as a diamond cutter; then the family opened the first of what became a chain of five dress shops in Manhattan.  She graduated from Hunter College High School in 1954. She then attended Hunter College, part of the City University of New York, where she studied Psychology and Anthropology and also where she met her future husband, Leonard Lauder, then a trainee naval officer, on a blind date. She graduated from Hunter College in 1958. The couple were married on July 5, 1959. After the marriage, she worked for several years as a public school teacher in Harlem before leaving to work with her husband at the company founded in 1946 by her mother-in-law, Estée Lauder, which at the time sold six products: a red lipstick, creams, lotions, and Youth Dew fragrance in a bath oil.

Lauder was the Senior Corporate Vice President of the Estée Lauder Companies and a member of the board of overseers at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. A 1995 profile in The New York Times called her “an immaculately turned-out, awesomely organized woman” who had started to fill the public role that had been filled by her mother-in-law, Estée Lauder.  Lauder, an executive at Estée Lauder, created the Clinique brand name and developed its product line. She worked as the training director for Clinique and was the first person to wear the trademark white lab coat, now worn by Clinique salespeople at cosmetic departments worldwide.  Lauder personally raised much of the $13.6 million that went to create the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, which opened in October 1992 and focuses on the treatment and diagnosis of breast cancer. She helped raise an additional $5 million to create an endowment to be used to fund clinical research there.

Self magazine’s first annual issue for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month came after an April 1991 lunch at the 21 Club, at which Lauder discussed ideas for articles about breast cancer with her friend Alexandra Penney, who was then serving as editor of Self.  Together with Penney, Lauder established The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and formalized the pink ribbon as a symbol for breast cancer awareness as part of Self magazine’s second annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month issue in 1992. Penney’s inspiration to improve on the success of the magazine’s first annual issue was to create a ribbon that would be placed in Estee Lauder’s New York City stores. Lauder made the commitment to have the ribbons placed on the company’s cosmetics counters across the United States.

By 1993, Lauder had overseen the creation of a new shade called Pink Ribbon that was part of her personal and corporate effort to raise breast cancer awareness. Her husband paid for the cost of registering The Breast Cancer Research Foundation in all 50 states. By the start of 1995, some $900,000 had been raised for the foundation, including $120,000 from the sale of Pink Ribbon lipstick and blusher and $190,000 from the sale of the Clinique Berry Kiss pink lipstick.  By October 2008, the Estée Lauder Companies estimated that the firm’s Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign had raised $335 million towards research and distributed 80 million pink ribbons.  Following Lauder’s death, Delta Air Lines, which had already dedicated one of its Boeing 767-400ER long-haul planes in honor of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation that Lauder founded and painted it in a pink livery while Lauder was living, re-christened and re-named the same plane in her memory.

Evelyn Lauder died at home in Manhattan from complications of nongenetic ovarian cancer. She was a longtime resident of Palm Beach, Florida. A private funeral service was held at the Central Synagogue in New York City.

More Images

  • evelyn_lauder - ==
Cipriani 42nd Street, NYC==
March 12, 2009==
©Patrick McMullan==
Photo - ZACH HYMAN/PatrickMcMullan.com==

  • evelyn-lauder - <p>Evelyn Lauder.</p>


  • August, 12, 1936
  • Vienna, Austria


  • November, 12, 2011
  • USA
  • New York, New York

Cause of Death

  • complications of nongenetic ovarian cancer

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