Brownie Wise, Earl Tupper, and the Home Party Pioneers
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Brownie Wise, the first woman to appear on the cover of Business Week, was the driving force behind making Tupperware a household name. Fired under mysterious circumstances, she was written out of Tupperware history and died in obscurity. A trailblazing businesswoman decades ahead of her time, Wise created the Tupperware "home party" phenomenon in the 1950s. Her drive and creativity fueled sales and profits for the once sleepy plastic containers company. Earl Tupper anointed Wise as the company figurehead and marketing guru. Long before Disney, her lavish national headquarters drew tourists from near and far to the outskirts of Orlando, Florida, where she held court with the press, politicians, and movie stars. Wise's idea to market Tupperware exclusively through in-home sales sparked a cultural revolution in post World War II America. For the first time, minimally educated and economically invisible housewives had opportunities for careers. She became a cultlike, charismatic leader for the Tupperware faithful, so popular that "Tupperware Ladies" would vie to win the clothes right off her back. Behind the scenes, few knew Wise was stalked by her alcoholic and abusive ex-husband and feared him appearing out of nowhere to cause shame, embarrassment, or worse. The adoration from a legion of Tupperware dealers made her sudden fall from grace even more shocking and dramatic. At the height of her national celebrity, Tupper unceremoniously released her from the company. Journalist Bob Kealing has interviewed pioneering executives who helped build the company alongside Wise, reviewed hundreds of primary source documents written by Tupper and Wise, and obtained access to a wealth of previously unknown information, including sealed court depositions regarding a series of boat accidents successfully kept out of the press by the company, and details of secret recordings made by Tupperware Home Parties management seeking to prevent their distributors from unionizing. Wise's rise and fall, and her relationship with the eccentric Tupper, is the stuff of legend; a story told finally, and fully, in Tupperware Unsealed.
University Press of Florida, 9780813032276, 250pp.
Publication Date: May 1, 2008
About the Author
Bob Kealing, an Emmy Award-winning reporter for NBC's WESH-TV in Orlando, is the author of Kerouac in Florida: Where the Road Ends.
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