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CEW at 65: 1954, A Year to Remember

When CEW was established in 1954, beauty was still known as "toilet" goods and Marilyn Monroe had just married Joe DiMaggio. Here, Layla Ilchi looks at the year that gave birth to Cosmetic Executive Women — and so much more.


The Rose Parade is the first national television program to be broadcast in color.

Martin Revson, vice president of sales at Revlon Corp., says TV is the most influential form of marketing.

Q-Tips increases its price for the first time in seven years, from 29 cents to 35 cents.

Davis Factor, president of the Toilet Goods Association, predicts the toilet goods industry will reach $2 billion in sales by 1960.

Marilyn Monroe marries New York Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio.



Department stores view price promotions for beauty products as a “necessary evil.”

Harper’s Bazaar releases a readers’ survey on cosmetics preferences, receiving 40,000 replies. Top brands included Elizabeth Arden, Revlon, Helena Rubinstein, Coty and Dorothy Gray.

Procter & Gamble puts $10 million behind its marketing campaign for its new Gleem toothpaste that includes an antienzyme ingredient. The ad was seen in newspapers, car cards and television spots.

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Walgreens Drug Stores merges with Bond Drug Stores, which operates four drugstores in Iowa and Illinois.

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Fragrance Foundation executive director Miriam Gibson French states that fragrance consumption will triple in the next five years and predicts millions more women will become fragrance users.

Estée Lauder enters Montaldo’s and the White House department store. Both launches were described as successful, with brand ambassadors hosting classes and assisting customers in-store.



Marie Earle releases vitamin-infused cream housed in metal tube capsules. The packaging is an effort to reduce waste and avoid deterioration of the cream inside. The product retails for $7.50 for 32 capsules.



Armand Petitjean, founder of the House of Lancôme, and Adam Gimbel, president of Saks Fifth Avenue, announce Lancôme will be the first French brand to launch in the U.S. exclusively at the retailer with its skin-care and makeup products.

The Supreme Court rules against the Board of Education in Brown v. Board of Education, stating segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.



The U.S. conducts its first civil defense drill, simulating a mock nuclear attack nationwide.



The U.S. House of Representatives passes a revised Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which will codify the original 1938 act, but will not introduce substantial changes.

In conjunction with the release of “A Star Is Born,” the House of Westmore releases a makeup collection inspired by Judy Garland’s role in the film.

Now called Cosmetics Executive Women, the Cosmetic Career Women organization is formed to advance the interests and careers of women in the toilet goods industry.



President Eisenhower signs into law the Communist Control Act, outlawing the Communist Party of the United States.

Lentheric Perfumes advertises its Tweed fragrance during the “Chance of a Lifetime” television show, the first time a fragrance brand has used television advertising.



Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” film is released.

For its annual beauty issue, Seventeen magazine unveils the first perfume sample offer targeting teenagers with samples of 12 fragrances from brands like Helena Rubinstein, Tussy and Fabergé.

The proposed revision of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act passed by the House in July is vetoed by President Eisenhower because he believed the revision would make no substantial changes to the existing act.

L’Oréal de Paris makes its U.S. debut at beauty salons with Rege-Color hair tint and Imedia Crème permanent hair-coloring treatment.



Elvis Presley plays his one and only show at the Grand Ole Opry, receiving harsh criticism for the way he played country music.

Patti Still, who helped introduce acrylic nails to the toilet goods market, brings her brand Patti-Nail to Saks Fifth Avenue.



Professional women are the country’s top consumer of beauty goods, totaling 19 million people.

Ellis Island’s main immigration point-of-entry permanently closes.



The first Burger King opens in Miami.