Childhood and education
Muriel Fox's parents were Anne (maiden name Rubenstein) Fox and M. Morris Fox. In 1980 Muriel said (at a Mother's Day rally for the Equal Rights Amendment) that a large inspiration for her feminist activism was her mother's unhappiness at being a housewife. She had a brother, Jerry, who died in 1988 at age 55.
After graduation from college she worked as an advertising copywriter for Sears Roebuck in New York, then as a publicist for Tom Jefferson & Associates in Miami, Florida, where she headed the Dade County re-election campaign of Senator Claude Pepper and helped elect Miami Mayor William M. Wolfarth.
In 1950 she applied for a job at Carl Byoir & Associates, which was then the world’s largest public relations agency, but was rejected by the Executive Vice President of the agency, who stated, "We don't hire women writers." However, later in 1950 she was hired as a publicist in Carl Byoir & Associates' Radio-TV Department. In 1952 she was head of that department, and in 1956 she became the agency's youngest vice president. She was then told she had "progressed as far as she could go because corporate CEOs can't relate to women." It was not until the 1970s that she became Executive Vice President of the agency. She was described in Business Week Magazine's list of 100 Top Corporate Women in June 1976 as the "top-ranking woman in public relations." In 1985 she retired from the agency.
She also served as president of Byoir subsidiaries ByMedia (communications training) and ByMart (smaller accounts).
She also served on the board of Rorer Pharmaceuticals from 1979 to 1993, chairing its Nominating Committee, and on the board of directors of Harleysville Mutual Insurance Company from 1976 to 2000, chairing its Audit Committee.
In 1966 she co-founded the National Organization for Women (NOW), and she was NOW president Betty Friedan's main lieutenant and director of operations in its earliest years. She also helped edit NOW's original Statement of Purpose (1966). In 1967 she organized NOW's New York chapter, and she founded and edited NOW's first national newsletter (1970-1971). She was the head of public relations for NOW and eventually served as NOW's vice president (1967-1970), chair of its board (1971-1973), and chair of its national advisory committee (1973-1974). In 1975 she organized a successful meeting between NOW officers and Byoir client "Sesame Street," which headed off a planned NOW boycott while also resulting in increased participation of female characters on the influential TV show.
In 1970 she was a co-founder of the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (NOWLDEF, now called Legal Momentum); she served on its board of directors in 1974, and also served as its vice president (1977-1978), president (1978-1981), chair of its board (1981-1992), and honorary chair of its board (1993-present). For NOWLDEF she organized and chaired The National Assembly on the Future of the Family (1979), convening 2,100 civic leaders in the first public forum that highlighted the modern-day transformation of the American family. Also in 1979 she created NOWLDEF’s annual Equal Opportunity Awards Dinner, and she co-chaired it for 22 years with co-chairs including prominent corporate American CEOs. She also chaired NOWLDEF's Convocation on New Leadership in the Public Interest (1981), to persuade leaders of business, government, labor, and public policy to be feminist allies.
She was a co-founder in 1974, and the second president in 1976-78, of The Women's Forum of New York, an organization of prominent women whose stated goal was originally to "bring together women of diverse accomplishments and provide them with a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences. By thus becoming aware of their counterparts in all fields, and of mutual interests and attitudes, they can, when desired, speak in concert on issues confronting the total community."
Beginning in 1993 she chaired the board of Veteran Feminists of America; for them she organized and chaired conferences such as their Salute To Feminist Authors and their Salute To Feminist Artists.
She was a Senior Editor of the book Feminists Who Changed America (2006).
She raised many millions of dollars for feminist causes.
She lectured throughout the world on feminism and "Moving Women Up the Corporate Ladder," among other topics. In speeches she often urged successful women to abandon their old roles as "Queen Bee" in a man's world. Her most frequent speechline was a call urging successful women to say, "Yes, I am a feminist."
In 1985 she was given the Distinguished Alumna Award from Barnard College, and became the first recipient of New York State NOW's Eleanor Roosevelt Leadership Award. In 1991 the Muriel Fox Award for Communications Leadership Toward a Just Society, also called the "Foxy", was created by the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund; she was its first recipient. In 1996 the Fund granted her an "Our Hero" award "For a Lifetime of Dedication to the Cause of Women’s Equality."
She was the first public relations executive to win the Achievement Award of American Women in Radio & Television, and the first woman to receive the "Business Leader of the Year" Award from Americans for Democratic Action.
She also was awarded the Caroline Lexow Babcock Award from Rockland County NOW, the Distinguished Citizen Award from the Rockland County Family Shelter, the Matrix Award from New York Women in Communications, the Woman of Accomplishment Award from the Wings Club, and the Woman to Women Award from New York State NOW.
"Papers of NOW officer Muriel Fox, 1966-1971" is at the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.
- "Fox, Muriel, 1928- . Papers of NOW officer Muriel Fox, 1966-1971: A Finding Aid". Oasis.lib.harvard.edu. 1928-02-03. Retrieved 2018-02-21.
- "Murial Fox VFA Fabulous Feminist". Vfa.us. Retrieved 2018-02-21.
- "Weequahic High School Alumni Association | Picture Gallery". Weequahicalumni.org. Retrieved 2018-02-21.
- Zhang, Wenxian. "Interview with Ms. Muriel Fox: Rollins Alumni, Executive Vice President of Carl Byoir and Associates, & Co-Founder of NOW", Rollins College, November 25, 2010. Accessed July 22, 2016. "Well, I grew up in Newark, New Jersey, went to the high school of Philip Roth Weequahic High School, and then my brother had dramatic fever, and so my family moved to Miami Beach and I was fortunate enough to get a full scholarship to Rollins."
- Who's Who In America, 1980–2008
- Aronoff, Craig E. (1979), Business and the Media., Goodyear Publishing Company, pp. 152–168
- February 9th, 2014 by Allyson Goldsmith. (2014-02-09). "Honoring Our Founders and Pioneers | National Organization for Women". Now.org. Retrieved 2015-05-05.
- Hennesse, Judith (1999), Betty Friedan: Her Life., Random House, pp. 104–5, 115–17, 119, 121, 131, 134, 136, 143, 152, 153, 157, 182, 228
- Barbara Love, ed. (22 September 2006). Feminists Who Changed America, 1963-1975. University of Illinois Press. pp. 154–155, 13, 20, 99, 357, xvii–xix. ISBN 978-0-252-03189-2.
- "The National Organization for Women's 1966 Statement of Purpose". National Organization for Women. Archived from the original on 2011-09-02. Retrieved 2013-10-29.
- "National Assembly on Family Future", The New York Times, November 30, 1979
- "History - Women's Forum of New York". Womensforumny.org. Retrieved 2018-02-21.
- "Veteran Feminists of America".
- Barbara Love, ed. (22 September 2006). Feminists Who Changed America, 1963-1975. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-03189-2.
- St. Louis Globe-Democrat. June 17, 1977. "She Works Behind the Scenes"
- Pittsburgh Courier. February 2, 1963. "New Yorker Speaks to Radio-TV Group"
- Minneapolis Tribune. November 25, 1974, p.3B. "Muriel Fox Calls for Change in Attitude Toward Women in Management Roles."
- Detroit Free Press. Sept. 26, 1974: "Women and Work: No More Stereotypes"
- "Muriel Fox Is Not A Queen Bee.", Atlanta Constitution, Sep 13, 1977
- Rockland Journal-News. Gannett Suburban Newspapers, New York State. October 26, 1997. On October 21, 2014 Gloria Steinem presented her with the Lifetime Achievement Award of Veteran Feminists of America in a luncheon at the Harvard Club, New York City, featuring appearances by feminists Eve Ensler, Rosie O'Donnell, Marlo Thomas and Carol Jenkins. Page 1, Pages 15A-16A. "NOW Chapter To Honor Feminist Pioneer"; March 16, 1992. "NOW founder says the feminist struggle is far from over."
- "The Women".
- "The Film — She's Beautiful When She's Angry". Shesbeautifulwhenshesangry.com. Retrieved 2017-04-28.
- "'She's Beautiful When She's Angry' Tells The Feminist History Left Out Of Your School Textbook". The Huffington Post. 2014-12-15. Retrieved 2017-03-04.