NEW YORK — John A. Cella, a former chemist who spent more than two decades working in the skin care industry, primarily at Elizabeth Arden and Alberto Culver Co., died on June 8 in San Diego. He was 76. The immediate cause was kidney failure.

This story first appeared in the June 17, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Cella, who held a Ph. D. in chemistry from Notre Dame, began his career in 1950, at Armour & Co., where he studied steroid chemistry. In 1953, he joined G.D. Searle & Co., where he invented and patented Aldactone, a popular diuretic that was used throughout the 1960s. Following widespread acclaim for his invention, he was named Chicagoan of the year by the Chicago Junior Association of Commerce and Industry in June of 1960. The drug is currently used for congestive heart failure.

In 1963, he joined Alberto Culver as a vice president. After 10 years, he left that company and joined Elizabeth Arden.

At Elizabeth Arden he oversaw the development of anti-aging moisturizers like Visible Difference and Millennium.

In 1986, he retired from Elizabeth Arden but continued to work as a consultant for various skin care companies.

He is survived by his wife, Marie; two sons, John A. 3d and William; two daughters, Mary Lee Cella and Leslie A. Johnson; a sister, Rosemary Geyer, and five grandchildren.”

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