Despite rumors and articles to the contrary, Hyman Charles (aka Charles “Haskell”) Revson was born 11 October 1906 in Boston Massachusetts, to Russian-Jewish parents Samuel and Nettie Leah “Janette” (Weiss) Revson. Charles’ mother Nettie had a brother Hyman who probably was the inspiration for that part of Charles’ name. We may never know how or why the name “Hyman” was later listed as “Haskell,” but possibly because his son was named Charles Haskell Revson, Jr., it was assumed.
Although various references states that Charles was born in either Quebec Canada or in Manchester, New Hampshire, documents point to the contrary. As Charles stated, he was indeed born in Boston, Massachusetts (the NEHGS online vital records database is my source). His older brother Joseph was born in nearby Somerville MA, and his younger brother Martin was also born in Boston MA (even though they were living in Manchester at the time). Although not a New Hampshire native, the Revson family did live in Manchester New Hampshire for about fifteen years (from 1910 to 1925). That fact in itself is probably not enough for New Hampshire to proclaim a great connection to this family.
Charles’ father Samuel had immigrated to the United States around 1903. I have not found any evidence to support the idea that Samuel was from Canada prior to that date. In 1904 Samuel Revson married Nettie Leah Weiss, daughter of Saul & Mary Ella (Greenburg) Weiss in Somerville Massachusetts. A year later their first child, Joseph was born, followed by Charles in 1906 and Martin in 1910. In the 1910 United States census, the family was living in Boston, Massachusetts where Sam was a cigar roller (son Martin’s birth certificate in 1910 in Boston states their residence was in Manchester). By 1920 the census shows this family living in Manchester NH where Sam had the same occupation, this time working for the R.G. Sullivan Cigar Company.
While living in New Hampshire, Charles and his brothers attended Manchester schools, and lived in a multi-level apartment building in the “Squog” area of Manchester, New Hampshire (that area was nick-named after the nearby Piscataquog River). In 1925 the Revson family moved to New York City. A great deal has been written about this part of the Revson family’s history, and links can be found below that provide greater detail.
In 1932 Charles and Joseph Revson, who had been working for a company as nail polish distributors, joined forces with Charles Lackman, a chemist and nail polish supplier, and formed the now famous Revlon company. A third brother, Martin Revson, was also involved with the company.
In the mid-1950s the Revlon Company sponsored the quiz show, the $64,000 Question. Steve Carlin the executive producer testified before Congress that the Revlon company “rigged the show” to ensure high ratings. Charles and Martin testified but never became “subjects of the official inquiry.”
In 1956 Charles Revson established the Charles H. Revson Foundation. This organization funded over $10 million during Charles’ lifetime, and much more since.
In 1960 Martin Revson sued the Revlon company and his elder brother Charles for $601,460 in fraud damages and in the same year they agreed to an out-of-court settlement. In 1963 Martin E. Revson was elected chairman of Maradel Productions Inc, a competitor in the cosmetics and toiletries field. This company is now known as Del Laboratories Inc.
In 1966 the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University awarded an honorary Doctor of Human Letters degree to Charles H. Revson.
Charles Revson died on 24 August 1975 at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, age 68 of cancer. He is buried at Ferncliff Cemetery in Westchester New York.
-Fire And Ice: The Story of Charles Revson (Excellent)–
-Time Magazine: The Unflabbergasted Genius“-
-Revson Foundation: Our Founder, Charles H. Revson
-Revlon Inc. Detailed Corporate & Product History–
***PARTIAL GENEALOGY OF CHARLES H. REVSON***
Samuel Morris “Major” Revson, was born about 1874, probably in Russia, and died in 1949. According to an article about grandson Peter, Samuel was “a Russian Jew who left his home country to avoid being conscripted into the Czarist army and to find a new life in America.” According to census records Samuel immigrated to the United States in 1903, and was naturalized in 1908. Massachusetts vital records (available through NEHGS) show that in 1904 he married Nettie Leah “Etta” “Janette” Weiss in Somerville, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of Saul & Mary Ella (Greenburg) Weiss. In 1905, at the birth of their son Joseph, they were living at 17 Conwell Street in Somerville MA. In 1906 at the birth of their son Charles, the family was living at 229 Quincy Street, Boston MA. The 1910 Boston MA birth record of son Martin shows their address as 35 Munroe Street, Manchester NH. In 1910 the U.S. census shows this family living in Somerville MA. By 1920 they were living in Manchester NH, both times Samuel’s occupation is a cigar packer. In Manchester he worked for the R.G. Sullivan Cigar Company. In 1925 the family moved to Brooklyn New York. Nettie “Etta” Revson died in 1933, probably in New York City, of a strep throat. [See more on Weiss family genealogy]
NEHGS Online Vital Records – Index Only
1904 Revson Samuel Morris MARRIAGE Somerville MA (Image Not Available To View)
1904 Nettie Leah Weiss MARRIAGE Somerville MA (Image Not Available To View)
U.S. Census > 1910 United States Federal Census > Massachusetts > Suffolk > Boston Ward 21 > District 1592
Revson, Samuel Head M W 36 married 6 yrs Russia-Yiddish RY RY cigar packer, cigar factory
Revson, Etta wife F W 25 married 6 yrs 2 ch 2 living R-Y RY RY
Revson, Joseph son M W 4 single MA RY RY
Revson, Charles son M W 3 single MA RY RY
U.S. Census > 1920 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Hillsborough > Manchester Ward 11 > District 126 [170 Conant Street]
Revson, Samuel Head M W 46 married immigrated 1903, naturalized in 1908, Russia-Russian, RR RR Packer, Cigar Factory
Revson Jeannette, Wife F W 35 married imm 1886 naturalized 1906 Poland/Russian/Yiddish PR-Y PR-Y clerk, dry goods
Revson, Joseph son M W 14 single MA PR PR
Revson, Charles son M W 13 single MA PR PR
Revson, Martin, son M W 9 single MA PR PR
Children of Samuel M. & Nettie L. (Weiss) Revson:
1. +Joseph Revson, b. 6 June 1905 in Somerville MA
2. +Hyman Charles Revson, b. 11 Oct 1906 Boston MA
3. +Martin Elliott Revson, b. 18 June 1910 Boston MA
Joseph Revson, son of Samuel M. & Nettie L. (Weiss) Revson, was born 6 June 1905 in Somerville MA. He removed with his parents about 1920 from Massachusetts to Manchester New Hampshire. In 1925 he moved with his family to New York City. In 1932 he partnered with his brother and Charles Lackman to begin the Revlon Company. Joseph married Elise Gaines on 24 January 1947. She was born 16 January 1919 in New York City, the daughter of Arthur Henry Gaines [b 11 June 1887 Boston MA] & Beatrice — [b 1897 NYC; and grand-daughter of Barnard Gurzberg of Russia and Brookline MA.Joseph died in December of 1971 in New York City. In 1951 they were living at 969 Park Avenue in New York City. Later Joseph and Elise separated, with Joseph living at an apartment at the Carlton House, on Sixty-first and Madison.
NEHGS Online Vital Records Database: 1905 Revson Joseph Birth Somerville 551 626
—records show: born 6 June 1905, Somerville MA, parents: Samuel M. Revson and Nettie L. Weiss, res. 17 Conwell St. Somerville MA, father’s occupation, cigar packer; both parents born Russia.
New York Times: January 25, 1947 — CORNELL ALUMNA BECOMES BRIDE HERE OF JOSEPH REVSON
The marriage of Miss Elise Gaines, daughter of Mrs. Joseph E. Gilbert of this city and Stamford, Conn. and the late Arthur Gaines, to Joseph Revson of New York, son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Revson, took place yesterday afternoon in the Cottage of Hampshire House. The Rev. Dr. William F. Rosemblum performed the ceremony. The bride dispensed with attendants. Charles Revson was his brother’s best man. Mrs. Revson was graduated from Cornell University and is with the radio department of Young & Pubicam, Inc., the advertising firm here. Her husband was honorably discharged from the Army in 1944 after serving for twenty-eight months. He is general manager and treasurer of the Revlon Products Corporation, of which he is co-founder. After a wedding trip to Florida, the couple will make their home here.
Children of Joseph & Elise (Gaines) Revson:
1. James A. Revson, b. abt 1953; died 11 July 1991 at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Medical Center in Manhattan NY, age 38, of AIDS. He had lived in Manhattan and Sag Harbor, LI. He had worked as architecture and design writer for Newsday, joining that publication in 1984. He had also worked as the arts and weekend editor of The Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time, and had been managing editor of the Bridgehampton Sun on Long Island.
2. Thomas J. Revson
3. Joanne E. Revson
Hyman Charles Revson, son of Samuel H. & Nettie L. (Weiss) Revson, was born 11 October 1906 in Boston MA. He removed with his parents to New Hampshire where they were living in 1920. He also moved in 1925 to New York with them. He married 1st in 1930 to Ida Tompkins. He married 2nd) 26 Oct 1940 to Johanna Catharine Christine “Ancky” de Knecht. She was born in Holland, and became a naturalized citizen of the United States on 13 November 1944 in NY Southern District Court. They had 2 natural sons and possibly one adopted daughter. They divorced in 1960. She married 2nd to Ben R. Johnson. He married 3rd) 15 Feb 1964 in Windsor CT to Lyn (Fisher) Sheresky, a divorcee and former wife of Kenneth Sheresky of NY. Charles Revson died on 24 August 1975 at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City, age 68 of cancer. He is buried at Ferncliff Cemetery in Westchester New York.
NEHGS Online Vital Records Database
1906 Revson Hyman Charles Birth Boston 561 200
—Record #8897: Oct 11 1906; Hyman Charles Revson M 229 Quincy Street, Boston MA; parents: Samuel M. & Janette L. Weiss, father’s occupation: Cigar packer; both parents born in Russia
Children of Charles H. & Johanna C.C. (de Knect) Revson:
1. John Charles Revson, b. April 1942/1943; graduated from Brandeis University. He m1) Ricki Brody, and had a daughter Jill Revson. He married 2nd) February 1973 to Alexis Turpan. In 1973 he was VP and GM of the Etherea Fine Fragrance Division of Revlon Inc; ? he also married Rommy Kolb, dau of William and Rose Kolb. They divorced. She was the inventor and patenter of the “Scunci” aka Scrunchie hair tie in 1986.
2. Charles Haskell Revson Jr., b. March 1946; He graduated from the Deerfield Academy and the University of Pennsylvania, and is an investor and vice president of Beauty Checkers, the makeup instruction salon at Henri Bendel in New York. He married 4 October 1986 at Rivendell House at Eastsound, Washington to Diana Stoianovich, the daughter of Dr. Traian Stoianovich, of Metuchen NJ and Paris and Marcelle Stoianovich of Paris. She /was a freelance fashion stylist in New York, graduated from the Ecole Active Bilingue in Paris and from Middlebury College. Her father is a professor of history at Rutgers University and her mother is an artist. In 2006 she was the development director of the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation, and mother of two sons, Tripp and Alex.
3. Penelope Johanna “Penny” Revson, ?adopted daughter of Johanna. In 1973 she was presented as a debutante in New York City. Resided in Rye NY with her mother. She married 1st) Jesse Michael Mitchell; m2d) Lawrence R. Donnelly.
Martin Elliott Revson, son of Samuel M. & Nettie L. (Weiss) Revson, was born 18 June 1910 in Boston MA. Martin joined his brothers as one of the founding partners at the Revlon Company, but later parted ways and became chairman of Del Laboratories in Farmingdale LI. He married in 1938 to Julie Phelps Hall a nightclub singer. She was born 12 Oct 1914 and d. 6 Feb 2000 in Westport, Fairfield Co. CT. In 1951 Mrs. Julie Revson was living at 425 Ridgeway, White Plains NY. She divorced Martin Revson in May of 1969. Martin married 2nd) May 1969, on the same day his divorce was final, to Eleanor (Carmel) Borowick, a divorcee. She had married 1st) Thomas Borowick of New York. Her son Paul, by her first marriage to Borowick, ?changed his name to Revson. In 1993 Martin Revson agreed to pay $1.6 million to settle a S&EC insider-trading lawsuit, without admitting or denying the allegations. He did not face criminal charges.
NEHGS Online Vital Record Database
1910 Revson Martin Elliott Birth Boston 593 273
—Record #12280; June 18 1910; Martin Elliott Revson, Male, 35 Munroe Street, Manchester NH, father, Samuel M.; mother, Jenette Weiss, father’s occup Cigar packer, both parents born Russia
New York Times, February 9, 2000
REVSON–Julie Phelps. Former wife of Revson co-founder Martin Revson, died Sunday, February 6 in California. She is the mother of deceased race car driver Peter Revson and Douglas Revson. She is survived by her two daughters Julie Revson of Richmond VA and Jennifer Revson of Palm Beach Gardens FL. She also leaves behind her two grandsons Matthew Cox of Waitfield VT and Jason Sheldon of New York City and a sister Mrs. Elizabeth Graessle of White Plains, NY. Funeral services will be held this Saturday, February 12, at 11 AM at the Ballard Durand Funeral Home in White Plains NY followed by interment at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale NY.
Children of Martin E. & Julie (Phelps) Revson:
1. Peter Jeffrey Revson, b. 27 Feb 1939 in New York City and d. 22 March 1974 at Johannesburg, South Africa, in an auto crash.
2. Douglas Martin Phelps Revson, b. 23 July 1939; d. 30 July 1967 near Perstrup, Djursland, Denmark, and the age of 28 in a race car accident.
3. Jennifer Starr Revson, b July 1949; m1) Rodney Sheldon, div. July 1971, had one child, Jason Sheldon; She ?m2) 5 Aug 1973 in Los Angeles to Harold V. Guardino. They divorced in March 1974. She m3rd) May 1985 to John Kashou of Ponte Vedra Beach FL, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ibrahim Kashou of Milwaukee WI. He is president of the Sun Coast Group, a real estate development concern in Ponte Vedra Beach.
4. Julianne D. “Julie Ann Young” Revson, b. 2 Dec 1943 in Greensboro, Guilford County North Carolina; in 2000 living in Richmond VA; She attended Spence School in New York City, and graduated from Rosemary Hall in Greenwich CT, and Guilford College with a bachelor of arts degree in English.
She married 14 August 1965 at High Point, NC to Jonathan Elwood Cox, son of Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Elwood Cox.
Step-Child of Martin E. & Eleanor (Carmel-Borowick) Revson
5. Paul [Borowick) Revson, who m. April 1989 at the Metropolitan Club in NY to Lisa Scheer Dettelbach, daughter of Eugenia D. McClellan of Atlanta and Louis L. Dettelbach.