Breast cancer ‘pink ribbon’ pioneer dies

Evelyn Lauder was a refugee from Nazis.

November 15, 2011 03:46
2 minute read.
Evelyn Lauder with Elizabeth Hurley

Evelyn Lauder with Elizabeth Hurley_311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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NEW YORK – Evelyn Lauder, a refugee from the Nazis who lived to be deemed “breast cancer’s pink ribbon pioneer,” died Saturday at age 75.

Lauder died from nongenetic ovarian cancer. Her funeral service was held Monday morning at Central Synagogue in Manhattan.

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Lauder was married to Leonard Lauder, oldest son of Estee Lauder and chairman emeritus of the Estee Lauder makeup corporation.

Lauder, diagnosed with breast cancer in 1989, was a powerful advocate of women’s health. She started the Pink Ribbon campaign as an international symbol of breast health. Lauder founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation ( in 1993, which has raised upwards of $350 million.

In 2007 she received a diagnosis of ovarian cancer, which developed independently of her breast cancer, representatives from Estee Lauder said.

Born Evelyn Hausner in Vienna in 1936, Lauder’s family left Austria in 1938, using their household silver to get visas to Belgium.

Once the family reached England, her mother was sent to an internment camp on the Isle of Man, and she was placed in a nursery. The family arrived in New York in 1940.


Lauder met her husbandto- be on a blind date during her freshman year at Hunter College.

“He was the first person who took me out to dinner in a restaurant,” she told The New York Times. They married four years later at the Plaza Hotel.

Lauder eventually became senior corporate vice president and head of fragrance development worldwide in the Estee Lauder corporation.

In addition, Lauder was a photographer, whose work is in public and private collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

She authored two books featuring her photography and one featuring recipes.

Lauder’s New York Times obituary referenced her status as the daughter-in-law of a powerful cosmetics icon.

Lauder frequently told the story of how, early in her marriage, she returned to the couple’s apartment to find that her formidable mother-in-law, Estée, had rearranged the couple’s furniture in order to have it be more to her own liking.

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