Monday, September 24, 2007


One of the most glamorous Norwegian women I have met is definitively Tova Borgnine. We ran into each other one late afternoon at the Buddah Bar in Paris. As we were the only people in there (the place had just opened), and I have just finished a meeting, it came quite natural to say hello to each other. Even if she has lived in the United States almost all her life, she still speaks Norwegian fluently, and she was thrilled to announce that she had met (the late) Thor Heyerdahl and presented him an award. I just want to put some words about her in my blog, because I find her life story quite inspirational. A good example of how creativity can change a persons life.

After emigrating from Norway as a small child, Tova's tenacity drove her to accomplish a remarkable feat. Her heartfelt passion for beauty and elegance formed the foundation for what has now become a direct marketing success story. Along with her mantra: "It can be done!" she has transformed her dreams into a multi-million dollar corporation now positioned as an international presence in the beauty business.

During Tova's early twenties, she received her initial exposure to the inner workings of the cosmetics industry in Manhattan while she was working as a model and actress. The subsequent success of her East Coast boutique named "Tova's Touch" let her to Las Vegas where she became a highly-regarded makeup artist. She found the desert climate caused many of her clients to suffer from skin problems due to lack of hydration. Tova began her quest for the ultimate botanical skin care treatment when her friend, Merle Oberon, introduced her to an obscure Aztec cactus-based facial masque.

Tova was introduced to Ernest Borgnine on a blind date at Chasen's restaurant in Los Angeles. A strong mutual attraction and a whirlwind romance preceded their marriage. While on a film shoot with Ernie in Mexico, Tova sought out the source of the facial masque she had used when in Las Vegas. Soon afterward, a reporter with the San Francisco Chronicle came to their home in Beverly Hill with the intention of interviewing Ernie on his marital history. Ernie quickly redirected the inquiry to Tova's discovery in Mexico. Tongue in cheek, the reporter ran an article entitled, "Ernest Borgnine's Wife Discovers Face Lift in a Jar, All the Stars Use it . . . "

The direct mail business had found Tova almost overnight. She pioneered personalized direct mail/telephone sales and through the storms developed her skills in creative marketing. Today, she hosts the highly popular QVC program, "Beauty by Tova." Her Signature Fragrance is the number-one selling fragrance on television today and was recently nominated for the Fragrance Foundation's Hall of Fame Award. Tova's "Body Mind and Spirit" salon in Beverly Hills enjoys an elegantly upbeat atmosphere catering to many Hollywood notables. Despite her hectic schedule, Tova insists on maintaining personal contact with her customers.

Along with her recent participation in the World Economic Forum, Tova remains active with philanthropic organizations such as the Susan G. Koman Breast Cancer Foundation. She also serves on the Boards of Junior Achievement and the American Scandinavian Foundation.

Photos: (c) Beauty by Tova

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