Margaret Hayden Rorke

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Margaret Hayden Rorke
Margaret Hayden Rorke.jpg
Margaret Hayden

(1883-06-19)June 19, 1883
New York City, New York
DiedMarch 2, 1969(1969-03-02) (aged 85)
Los Angeles, California
OccupationManaging director, Textile Color Card Association of the United States (1919–1954)
Spouse(s)William Rorke
ChildrenHayden Rorke

Margaret Hayden Rorke (June 19, 1883 – March 2, 1969) was an American color standards expert, actress, and suffragist who was for nearly 40 years the managing director of the Textile Color Card Association of the United States. She is known as "the most influential 'color forecaster' of the 1920s and 30s."[1]

Early life[edit]

Margaret Nillie Hildegard Hayden was born in New York City on June 19, 1883 to William Richardson and Katherine Elizabeth (Farson) Hayden.[2] Her father was a theatrical producer.[3] She had a brief career as a theatrical actress under the name "Marguerite Hayden",[4] including a 1903 touring production of The Earl of Pawtucket opposite Lawrence D'Orsay, and roles opposite Chauncey Olcott in A Romance of Athlone and Terence. On April 16, 1907, she married William Henry Rorke and left the stage. The couple had four children (one of whom died in childhood), including the actor Hayden Rorke.[3][5]


In 1914, Rorke compiled and published Letters and Addresses on Woman Suffrage by Catholic Ecclesiastics. In her brief foreword, she explains that she was "prompted by the desire to correct the prevalent impression that the Catholic Church is officially opposed to Woman Suffrage."[6]


Rorke was "the first professional color forecaster" and the managing director of the Textile Color Card Association of the United States (TCCA) for almost forty years.[7] She joined the TCCA in 1918,[8]: 91 and was appointed managing director in October 1919.[9]: 44

Rorke helped standardize color in American manufacturing[10] and influenced trends. At the suggestion of the chairman of the National Boot and Shoe Manufacturers Association's Styles Committee, Rorke published her first "Chart of Color Harmonies" in 1925.[8]: 166 By 1929, Rorke was working with the United States military to standardize colors for uniform fabrics and trim. She worked from 1926 to 1935 to standardize the colors of the American flag.[8]: 168-169

Rorke named "Phantom Red" after this scene in the Technicolor sequence from The Phantom of the Opera (1925)[11]

Rorke employed "style spies" like Chicago Tribune foreign correspondent Bettina Bedwell, who for eleven years kept her updated on Paris fashion trends. Rorke and her team at TCCA incorporated the reports Bedwell sent into their own color forecasts, using the allure of Paris fashion to build the association's credibility.[7]

Rorke advised industrial leaders in Manchester on setting up the British Colour Council.[9]: 53 In the U.S., Rorke was a founding member of the Inter-Society Color Council, promoting a "progressive model of cooperative associationism with designers, professors, and scientists who wanted to foster the free flow of color theories and methods."[8]: 188

Mamie Eisenhower in "First Lady Pink," a color named by Margaret Hayden Rorke

Rorke also named colors, often tying names to notable cultural products or events. She named at least two colors—"Phantom Red" and "Sutter's Gold"—after films.[12] In 1953, she "introduc[ed] a new color, First Lady Pink, which was the color of Mrs. [Mamie] Eisenhower's Inaugural Ball gown."[13]

Later years[edit]

Rorke retired from the TCCA in 1954,[9]: 44 and moved to California shortly after.[14] Her husband had died in 1941,[15] and Rorke herself died in Hollywood on March 2, 1969, at the age of 85.[16][17]


  1. ^ Center, Smithsonian Lemelson (2012-07-12). "The Color of Invention". Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
  2. ^ "New York, New York City Births, 1846-1909," database, FamilySearch (11 February 2018), Marguirit Nillie Hildegard Hayden, 19 Jun 1883; citing Manhattan, New York, New York, United States, reference cn 370084 New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 1,322,182.
  3. ^ a b National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. Volume 54. Clifton, New Jersey: James T. White & Co. 1973. pp. 621–622. ISBN 9780883710005. OCLC 956672819.
  4. ^ "Miss Hayden adopts the stage". New York Herald. August 11, 1903. p. 9.
  5. ^ "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch (24 June 2017), New York > Kings > Brooklyn Ward 6 > ED 63 > image 25 of 42; citing NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  6. ^ Rorke, Margaret Hayden (1914). Letters and addresses on woman suffrage by Catholic ecclesiatics /. New York: The Devin-Adair Co. p. 1.
  7. ^ a b "The Color of Fashion". National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Retrieved 2019-04-07.
  8. ^ a b c d Blaszczyk, Regina Lee; Bedi, Joyce (2012). The Color Revolution. MIT Press. ISBN 9780262017770.
  9. ^ a b c Blaszczyk, Regina Lee; Wubs, Ben (2018). The Fashion Forecasters: A Hidden History of Color and Trend Prediction. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 44–53. ISBN 9781350017153.
  10. ^ Rawsthorn, Alice (2012-09-23). "50 Shades of Color: How the Evolution of Palettes Changed the World". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-08.
  11. ^ Street, Sarah; Yumibe, Joshua (2019-04-02). Chromatic Modernity: Color, Cinema, and Media of the 1920s. Columbia University Press. pp. 101–102. ISBN 9780231542289.
  12. ^ Universal Weekly. Media History Digital Library. New York, Moving Picture Weekly Pub. Co. 1936-02-22. p. 22.CS1 maint: others (link)
  13. ^ Mason, Harding; Gill, Brendan; Bunzel, Peter (1953-06-27). "From the Soul". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-04-08.
  14. ^ "Party Honors Active Mother". Van Nuys Valley News. August 4, 1968. p. 28 – via (Subscription required (help)). Cite uses deprecated parameter |subscription= (help)
  15. ^ "Rorke-William Henry". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. November 23, 1940. p. 9.
  16. ^ "Margaret Rorke". Van Nuys News And Green Sheet. March 4, 1969. p. 3 – via (Subscription required (help)). Cite uses deprecated parameter |subscription= (help)
  17. ^ "California Death Index, 1940-1997," database, FamilySearch (26 November 2014), Margaret H Rorke, 02 Mar 1969; Department of Public Health Services, Sacramento.

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