Tova Borgnine

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Tova Borgnine
Ernest Borgnine, Nancy Reagan, Tova Borgnine and President Ronald Reagan in 1987
Tove Traesnaes

(1941-11-17)November 17, 1941
DiedFebruary 26, 2022(2022-02-26) (aged 80)
Years active1965–2022
Louis Littleton
(m. 1965; div. 1972)
(m. 1973; died 2012)

Tova Traesnaes Borgnine (born Tove Træsnæs;[1] November 17, 1941 – February 26, 2022) was a Norwegian-born American businesswoman. She was the founder of Beauty by Tova cosmetics and the widow of Hollywood actor Ernest Borgnine.

Early life[edit]

Tova was born in Oslo, Norway; her father was a graphic artist and her mother was a translator at the U.S. Embassy.[2] Following her parents' divorce, she moved to the United States with her mother, at age 7;[3][4] though she did not speak English at the time.[5]


Tova studied acting in Manhattan, but she developed a fondness for applying makeup. After marrying a New Jersey businessman in 1965, she opened a makeup center. When the marriage failed, she moved her business to Las Vegas to be near her mother.[2]

In Las Vegas, in 1975, Tova learned of a cactus-based face cream made from a formula by a Mexican family and bought worldwide distribution rights.[2] By 1977, the revenues for her company, then called Tova9, were about $500,000; by 1981, they were nearly $2 million.[2] In 1984, she published The Tova Difference: A Promise of Lasting Beauty, with Elaine Trebek.[6][7][8]

Her perfume, Tova Signature, has been produced since 1983, and sold on QVC since 1990.[9] By 1984, her firm had 47 employees at her offices in Beverly Hills, California, and factory in nearby Arcadia. By 1987, she had 65 skincare products and 80 employees.

According to QVC, as of 2001 her perfumes made her "a steady presence at QVC and its biggest fragrance vendor". [citation needed]

In 2002, QVC bought the Tova brand for a seven-figure sum. As of 2008, Tova Signature was QVC’s top-selling perfume.[10]

She was awarded the FiFi Award for the Women's Fragrance Star of the Year (Non-Store Venues) in 1998.[7] Her fragrance, Tova Signature, was nominated for the 2008 Fragrance Hall of Fame FiFi Award.[11]

In June 2009, she received the Retailer of the Year award from the Fragrance Foundation, both for her innovative use of direct marketing to sell her products and for her longevity in the fragrance industry.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Borgnine was married twice. Her first husband was Louis A. Littleton of Point Pleasant, New Jersey. The marriage ended in divorce in 1972 after seven years. She had one son, David Johnson, born out of wedlock.[12] She married actor Ernest Borgnine on February 24, 1973.[13] Their marriage lasted for 39 years until his death at age 95 on July 8, 2012.[14]

She is the author of Being Married Happily Forever, published in 1997.[15][4]

Borgnine died at her home in Pennsylvania on February 26, 2022, at the age of 80.[1][16]


  1. ^ a b Brown, Rachel (1 March 2022). "Tova Beverly Hills Founder Tova Borgnine, Who Sold Millions Of Fragrance Units On QVC, Dies At 80". Beauty Independent. Retrieved 1 March 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d Adelson, Suzanne (17 August 1981). "With His Fifth Marriage, Ernest Borgnine Finally Has a Face-Saver: Wife Tove". People. Vol. 16, no. 7. Archived from the original on 8 May 2016. Retrieved 28 July 2023.)
  3. ^ Mullen, Dan (April 27, 1984). "Tova Borgnine: Cosmetics not bad business if you can talk: 'Skin has no sex'". UPI. Retrieved 2020-07-27.
  4. ^ a b Rosenfeld, Megan (19 November 1997). "Kiss and Makeup". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on 28 July 2020. Retrieved 27 July 2023.
  5. ^ Benson, Leslie (August 14, 2008). "Tova Did It Her Way: Celebrating 25 Years of the TOVA Signature Fragrance". Global Cosmetic Industry. Retrieved 2020-07-27.
  6. ^ Borgnine, Tova. (1984). The Tova difference : a promise of lasting beauty. Trebek, Elaine. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-50032-5. OCLC 10726713.
  7. ^ a b Schner, David (July 2010). "LEADERS Interview with Tova Borgnine, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, The Tova Corporation". Retrieved 2020-07-27.
  8. ^ Jacobs, Jody (1985-10-06). "More Amazing Blue Ribbon Amazers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2020-07-27.
  9. ^ a b Gumpel, Eve (2009-07-01). "Like Sinatra, She Did It Her Way". Entrepreneur. Retrieved 2020-07-27.
  10. ^ Ellin, Abby (2008-07-10). "After Selling the Company, Remorse". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-07-27.
  11. ^ Frederick, Kelly (July 28, 2008). "2008 FiFi Hall of Fame Nominees". Global Cosmetic Industry. Retrieved 2020-07-27.
  12. ^ Stritof, Sheri & Bob. Timeline and Marriages of Ernest Borgnine,; accessed October 17, 2014.
  13. ^ "Ernest Borgnine Biography". University of North Alabama Library. Archived from the original on May 28, 2010.
  14. ^ David, Mark (2013-02-01). "Jason Bateman Buys Ernest Borgnine's Beverly Hills Mini-Compound". Variety. Retrieved 2020-07-27.
  15. ^ Borgnine, Tova. (1997). Being married happily forever : 22 secrets, 12 strategies, and 8 compromises. New York: Putnam. ISBN 0-399-14321-1. OCLC 37226885.
  16. ^ Green, Penelope (March 13, 2022). "Tova Borgnine, Cosmetics Maven and QVC Star, Dies at 80". The New York Times. Retrieved March 14, 2022.

External links[edit]