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Published
May 15, 2017
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New Broadway musical portrays the rivalry between Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden

Published
May 15, 2017

The ugly side of the beauty industry is showcased in a new Broadway musical entitled “Warpaint,” which portrays the bitter rivalry between cosmetic queens Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden.

Christine Ebersole and Patti LuPone as Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden - Joan Marcus


Behind the glossy ad campaigns and the birth of numerous cult products was a feud so great that author Lindy Woodhead decided to write a book about it. Though they never actually spoke to one another or referred to one another by name, Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden had one of the greatest feuds in U.S. history, on par with other famous rivalries, such as the squabble between the tycoons behind  Macy's and Gimbal's.

While the book-turned-play depicts both women as sexually unfulfilled workaholics who practiced dirty tactics such as stealing each other’s staff and opening up salons around the corner from one another, there are also several game-changing moments that paved the way for the beauty industry today. For starters, they laid the building bricks for the cosmetics concept in department stores. This morphed into perfecting the customer service model to boost product sales in a personalized manner--a method still used in today’s multi-billion dollar beauty world.

From the creators of Grey Gardens and the director of Rent and Next to Normal, “War Paint” stars two-time Tony Award-winning actresses Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole. The show is currently running at the Nederlander Theatre in New York City through the end of 2017. A preview of the musical ran at the Goodman Theater in Chicago in 2016, but this is the first time the play is officially running on Broadway.

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