Revson, Charles Haskell

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REVSON, CHARLES HASKELL (1906–1975), U.S. industrialist. Born in Boston, Revson got his first job as a textile buyer in New York City. He was sales manager for a nail polish firm when, in 1923, he resigned to begin his own company, Revlon, Inc., with his brother Joseph and a chemist, Charles Lachman. His first important innovation was the introduction of true-color nail enamels, to replace the old transparent nail polish. He sold them first through salons and then through department stores. In 1939 he inaugurated matched lipstick and nail colors and introduced marketing innovations such as giving the colors of the products exotic, evocative names. This concept sparked the whole cosmetics industry into new growth, catapulting Revlon, Inc. to prominence. Revlon became the world's largest cosmetics manufacturer, with 26 companies in 12 European lands and in Israel, Australia, and Japan, and with markets in 80 countries. Revson served as president of Revlon from 1932 to 1962 and then as chairman from 1962 until his death in 1975.

In 1956 he established the Charles H. Revson Foundation, through which he donated more than $10 million during his lifetime. The majority of these donations went to organizations serving the Jewish community, medical institutions, schools, and universities. Revson helped found the Albert Einstein School of Medicine of Yeshiva University. He served as chairman on a number of national drives, including the United Jewish Appeal and United Cerebral Palsy.


A. Tobias, Fire and Ice: The Story of Charles Revson, the Man Who Built the Revlon Empire (1976).

[Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]