Evelyn Lauder

  • Born: August 12, 1936
  • Died: November 12, 2011
  • Location: Manhattan, New York


BCRF Founder Evelyn Lauder attends The Breast Cancer Research Foundation's "Hottest Pink Party Ever" benefit at The Waldorf-Astoria, Tuesday, April 8, 2008 in New York.

Breast health advocate dies at 75

CRISTIAN SALAZAR, The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Pink was Evelyn Lauder's color.

In her long career as an executive at cosmetics giant Estee Lauder Cos., the company founded by her mother-in-law, Lauder worked with many shades of red, peach, bronze and even blues, but pink was the one hue that changed her life.

In 1992, Lauder worked with her friend Alexandra Penney, the former editor-in-chief of Self magazine, to create the pink ribbon campaign for breast cancer awareness. It started small with Lauder and her husband, Leonard, largely financing the little bows given to women at department store makeup counters to remind them about breast exams.

That grew into fundraising products, congressional designation of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and $330 million in donations — $50 million from Estee Lauder and its partners — to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which Lauder also started.

That money helped establish the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, which opened in 2009.

Lauder died Saturday at her Manhattan home from complications of nongenetic ovarian cancer. She was 75.

Just last month, she reminisced about the early days of the breast cancer campaign. When it launched, it was so little known that some people thought it symbolized AIDS awareness.

"There had been no publicity about breast cancer, but a confluence of events — the pink ribbon, the color, the press, partnering with Elizabeth Hurley, having Estee Lauder as an advertiser in so magazines and persuading so many of my friends who are health and beauty editors to do stories about breast health — got people talking," she said. Then, three years after distributing the first pink ribbon, a flight attendant noted it on Lauder's lapel and said, "I know that's for breast cancer."

"From there, it became ubiquitous," she remembered.

Lauder had been diagnosed with her cancer in 2007, but it didn't slow her down much. Come each October, she appeared at cancer awareness events around the world.

The rest of the time, she went to work at Estee Lauder's Fifth Avenue headquarters, which, despite its annual revenue of $2.48 billion, was run much like a family business. Over the years, Evelyn Lauder would hold many positions there and she helped develop its lines of skin care, makeup and fragrance.

She came up with the name of its popular Clinique brand during the 1960s. Most recently, she held the title of senior corporate vice president.

Her other passion was photography, and she was the author of the book "In Great Taste: Fresh, Simple Recipes for Eating and Living Well."

Born Evelyn Hausner in 1936 in Vienna, Austria, she fled Nazi-occupied Europe with her parents, and they settled in the U.S. She attended public schools in New York City and Hunter College, part of the City University of New York.

As a college freshman, she met her husband, the elder son of Estee Lauder and whose family owned what was then a small cosmetics company.

"We had five products in the line, we only had two or three colors in our lipsticks," she told cable news channel NY1 in 2005. "It was a baby company."

The young couple married in 1959. Leonard Lauder is now chairman emeritus of the company. Estee Lauder died in 2004 at 97.

Leonard and Evelyn Lauder's son William is executive chairman of Estee Lauder Cos. Another son, Gary, is managing director of Lauder Partners LLC, a technology investment firm.


AP Fashion Writer Samantha Critchell contributed to this report from Ridgefield, Conn.

Condolence & Memory Journal

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My deepest sympathy in memory of a wonderful woman, whose many accomplishments will live on forever.

Posted by Peter J. Kaufmann - previous Lauder employee   January 23, 2012


thank you Evelyn, Pink has been my colour all my life, and since 1997, I am still here after 4 recurrances, i must have work to do, you did and you did it with style , elegance and much love, your no longer in pain, you are working as an angle for us, much love forever until we meet, ashleigh

Posted by ashleigh - fan   December 26, 2011

We had the immense pleasure to spend several glorius days with Evelyn and Leonard snorkeling in the Red Sea.

What a delight and what a special time.
Evelyn was more fun than one could imagine.
Once when I fell asleep on the deck I woke up to see her and her friend Patty Cisneros giggling wildly and could not understand.

Finally I glanced down at my toes which had been painted fire engine red with Evelyn's nail polish.

Not quite the image this burly Red Sea Dive Master wanted to project but it really was funny and I couldn't help but join them in their laughter.

Sharon and I reach out to Leonard and the family with a big hug and deep appreciation for the kindness both you and Evelyn always shared with us.

God bless her sould and memory.

Howard and Sharon Rosenstein
Hofit, Israel

Posted by Howard and Sharon Rosenstein - Israel - friends   December 21, 2011


So sad to hear of her passing. I love her cosmetics and thank her for them.

Posted by Laurie Davis    December 02, 2011

Condolences to the family and friends of Mrs. Evelyn Lauder. I am sorry for your great loss. It is very encouraging to know tha Mrs. Lauder started up the "Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation." Her hopes of curing Breast Cancer will not go in vain.

Posted by Margaret Beard - Bethlehem, PA   November 20, 2011

I met Evelyn so many times at the Crest Hollow Christmas party's,she was always so elegant and kind.God bless her,and the Lauder family at this most difficult time.

Posted by Susan Sabella - Enorthport, NY - layed off employee of 29 years.   November 16, 2011


She made a difference in so many ways.

Posted by Pat    November 15, 2011


Bless you. You did a lot for a lot of people, and for yourself.
Fran S

Posted by Fran - friend   November 15, 2011

Evelyn Lauder, you were a true woman. You had much success in your life and shared it with many others. Although I have no memories with you physical,I do have memories about you, reading about you and your life countless times. You see I am one of your employees. I am a Beauty Advisor for Estee Lauder. Thank you for everything you have done for people around the world and I thank you and your family for what you have given me.

Posted by Y. Benitez - Chicago, IL - An employee   November 15, 2011


Rest in Peace Evelyn. You touched many lives and Thanks for giving us Hope for the cure. We will contiue what you started.

Posted by Steven Jordan    November 14, 2011


May God Bless Evelyn and everyone whos lives she has touched.

Posted by Monica Pina    November 14, 2011


RIP and thank you!

Posted by Ann Chicoine - 24 yr. breast cancer survivot   November 13, 2011

I only met her once but in nearly every way she was the woman who, even as an adult, I wanted to grow up and become. Warm, elegant, courageous, hardworking, thoroughly modern and able to transform life's challenges into a gift for others. May her good example continue to shine and may her family be soothed by the gift of her presence in their lives.

Posted by Leslie - new york, NY   November 13, 2011


I would like to let her family and friends know that the work she did for cancer research and the pink ribbon in 1992 did not go without notice. Praying for peace at heart for you and yours.

Posted by just juggie    November 13, 2011

Default Album

BCRF Founder Evelyn Lauder attends The Breast Cancer Research Foundation's "Hottest Pink Party Ever" benefit at The Waldorf-Astoria, Tuesday, April 8, 2008 in New York.
Leonard A. Lauder, left, and his wife Evelyn pause with their son William, at New York's Lincoln Center following a memorial service for cosmetics pioneer Estee Lauder Monday, May 10, 2004. William Lauder, Estee's grandson, is the chief operating officer of the Estee Lauder Companies.
From left, model Elizabeth Hurley, BCRF Founder Evelyn Lauder and actress Gwyneth Paltrow attend The Breast Cancer Research Foundation's "Hottest Pink Party Ever" benefit at The Waldorf-Astoria, Tuesday, April 8, 2008 in New York.
Model and actress Elizabeth Hurley, left, and Evelyn Lauder pose for pictures at Bloomingdale's to promote The Estee Lauder companies' Breast Cancer Awareness social media event, in New York, on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg presents Evelyn Lauder with the Humanitarian award at the Fashion Group International's 'Night of Stars' award ceremony at Cipriani's Wall Street on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010 in New York.