Sally Hansen

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Sally G. Hansen
Sally Hansen mirror.jpg
Sally Genevieve Finney

Douglas, Nebraska
Manhattan, New York City
Known forFounder of Sally Hansen, Inc.

Sally Hansen (1908[1] – 1963) was an American businesswoman, inventor, dancer, actress, and writer. She was the eponymous founder of the Sally Hansen, Inc., a manufacturer of women's nail and beauty products.

Early life[edit]

Sally Finney dancing, 1920s

Sally Genevive Hansen (née Finney) was born in 1908 in Kansas City, Kansas, to Thomas M. and Jennie M. Finney,[1] the owners of a small cosmetics company, La Finné. As a teenager, she left home to become a dancer in Hollywood, California,[2] landing roles on stage and screen, including The Orpheus Four,[3] Friendly Enemies,[4] and Spring is Upon Us.[5]

Hansen became a frequenter of the Hollywood social scene during the "Roaring Twenties".[6]



While working as a dancer and actress in Hollywood, Hansen wrote (under her maiden name Sally Finney) a column titled "Your Candid Mirror" for the Los Angeles Times. Over the span of 91 articles, Hansen provided beauty and lifestyle advice, celebrating women and encouraging readers to be confident in their own skin.


House of Hollywood[edit]

After her early career as a dancer, Hansen took over her parents' failing cosmetics company and reinvented it as House of Hollywood in partnership with her husband and her brother.[2] By the early 1940s, Hansen expanded House of Hollywood to include 26,000 square feet (2,400 m2), the largest private brand cosmetic house in Southern California.[2] She was also made president of the California Cosmetics Association, its first female chair.[2]

Hansen's success with House of Hollywood led her to be offered the chance to expand through S. H. Kress & Co. Under the label La Bonita,[2] she created the products Cool Off (make-up designed to not run in the heat) and Film Tone, inspired by the makeup she knew from film sets.[7]

Sally Hansen, Inc.[edit]

In 1946, Hansen quit House of Hollywood and left Hollywood to create her own eponymous beauty company in New York City, Sally Hansen Inc., with a logo modeled on her own signature.Its first two trademarks were Hard As Nails and Mend-A-Nail. Hansen employed mostly women in her factory – championing and supporting women in the workforce.[2]

Hansen sold the brand in 1962 to Maradel Products.[8] The brand eventually became the number one nail brand in the United States,[9] and is distributed in over 55 countries worldwide as of 2017.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Hansen married three times. First, at 19 years old to Eugene Gunther,[11] a man who would turn out to be a philanderer, and in 1929 Hansen filed for divorce on grounds of "excessive intoxication" and violence, including one documented incident of being "slapped across the face".[12]

On November 20, 1932, Hansen married Adolf M. Hansen, "Hans", a doctor, surgeon, and socialite.[13] Although the couple led a glamorous happy life, filled with parties, Hansen’s ambitions outmatched his and on October 1, 1946, Hansen again filed for divorce.[14]

In 1947, Hansen was married for the third time to Jack Newton,[15] a man 11 years her junior.


Hansen died at age 56, on December 16, 1963.[16] Her grave is small and simple: A flat plaque that until 2014 was buried in mud and barely visible, located at Rose Hills Memorial Park, Whittier, Los Angeles County, California. Plot Whispering Pines Lawn Burial Section 4. Burial lot 822 Grave/Niche 3.[17] [18]

Sally Hansen grave, 2014
Sally Hansen grave, 2014

Financial legacy[edit]

The 1962 sale of Sally Hansen, Inc. netted Hansen approximately $11 million (accounting for inflation to 2017).[8] With her death one year later, the remainder of her estate was left to her husband Jack Newton, approximately $4 million, along with some small gifts for close friends.[19]


  1. ^ a b Sally Genevive Finney. United States Census (1920). Omaha Ward 10, Douglas, Nebraska, United States. The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), District 114, Sheet Number 12A, Household ID: 291, Line Number 37
  2. ^ a b c d e f Bennett, Fred L.W. (May 1942). "The Rise of The House of Hollywood". The American Perfumer & Essential Oil Review.
  3. ^ Los Angeles Times (November 9, 1924). Display Ad 89. Pg. C30
  4. ^ Los Angeles Times (May 26, 1925). Display Ad 33
  5. ^ Los Angeles Times[full citation needed]
  6. ^ The Daily Nebraskan, 1929[full citation needed]
  7. ^ The New York Times, June 17, 1951. Display Ad 1081
  8. ^ a b United States Patent and Trademark Office. Trademark Assignment Abstract of Title. Serial No. 72067005, Reg No. 688093. 21 Sept 1962
  9. ^ Nielsen Answers, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
  10. ^ "Sally Hansen". Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  11. ^ Marriage License: Sally Genevive Finney and Eugene William Gunther. State of California. County of Los Angeles. Book 715. Page 185. 12 March 1927.
  12. ^ Divorce Filing: Sally Gunther and Eugene Gunther. The Superior Court of the State of California. County of Los Angeles. 15 July 1929
  13. ^ ”Army and Navy Colonies at Harbor, Enliven Society With Attractive Affairs”. Los Angeles Times (May 7, 1933)
  14. ^ Divorce Filing: Sally Gunther and Adolph Hansen. The Superior Court of the State of California. County of Los Angeles. No. 320204. 1 Oct 1946
  15. ^ Certificate of Marriage Registration: Sally G. Hansen and Jack B. Newton. The City of New York Office of the City Clerk. Marriage License Bureau. 12 Dec 1947
  16. ^ Certificate of Death: Sally Newton. Filed 17 Dec 1963. State of New York, Dept. of Health, Borough of Manhattan. Cert No. 156-63-126775
  17. ^ "Yes, Beauty Legend Sally Hansen Was A Real Person And Yes, She Was A Total Badass". Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  18. ^
  19. ^ Last Will and Testament: Sally Hansen Newton