Marilyn Miglin, cosmetics queen, former Home Shopping Network host and wife of slain property developer, dead at 83
Marilyn Miglin, the cosmetics mogul, former Home Shopping Network host and wife of murdered property developer Lee Miglin, died on Monday.
Ms Miglin, 83, was surrounded by family when she died in Chicago, according to an announcement posted on the website of the Chicago cosmetics company that bears her name.
She died of complications from a stroke, her son, Duke Miglin, said.
Her husband, Lee Miglin, was murdered in 1997 by Andrew Cunanan, who killed five people in three months, including fashion designer Gianni Versace. The crimes made headlines around the world.
“Marilyn and Lee Miglin, among Chicago’s most prominent couples in social and business circles, were each self-taught,” former Sun-Times entertainment columnist Bill Zwecker wrote in a profile of the couple after the death of Lee Miglin.
“The future Mrs Miglin was 21 when she met the property developer, who scandalized her with a kiss on their first date. Six weeks later he proposed,” Zwecker wrote.
The couple were married for 38 years and, in addition to Duke, had a daughter, Marlena.
“She loved him every day. It never stopped. They were a magical couple and the love they had for each other was incredible,” her son said.
Before the tragedy propelled her into the headlines, Ms Miglin was best known as a model turned cosmetics mogul. She started her cosmetics business on Oak Street in the 1960s to provide makeup services to professional models like herself, who until then traveled to New York to get their supplies.
Ms. Miglin, a longtime Gold Coast resident, helped transform Oak Street into one of the city’s finest shopping districts. She helped organize and previously led the Oak Street Merchants Council and turned her business into a multi-million dollar cosmetics business.
The street is indicated by an honorary panel: “Marilyn Miglin Way”.
Ms Miglin has sold many of her products as a host on the Home Shopping Network for 25 years.
The Miglins were visiting the Great Pyramid in Egypt when she discovered the perfumes the pharaohs were trying to bring with them into the afterlife and thought, ‘I would love the ingredients,’ recalls her friend Sugar Rautbord .
“She hired someone to translate the ancient hieroglyphics describing scents and had a batch brewed, but it was just too strong and heavy and musky and penetrating. It was deadly. And she said ‘No, no I think that needs to be toned down for the modern American woman,” Rautbord said.
The result was a perfume she called Pheromone, which was sold in department stores across the country, Rautbord said.
But Ms. Miglin didn’t just sell beauty products.
“She would show women how to use and care for their skin and how they look and teach them how to wear makeup to feel better about themselves and feel good in public and give you confidence,” her son said.
For years, Ms. Miglin has volunteered at the Craniofacial Center, part of the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System, showing burn victims and others suffering from facial deformities how to apply make-up and use other beauty products.
“She really wanted to help give them the confidence to go out and feel good about themselves,” Duke Miglin said.
She realized what she could offer after an encounter at her Oak Street store with Michele McBride, a young woman who had been badly burned in the Our Lady of the Angels school fire, which killed 92 pupils and three nuns.
“My mum almost saw her go into her store but she quickly turned around and left. She went out to see why she hadn’t come in and that’s when she saw that Michele had been burned over half of her body escaping from the fire. My mother walked her to her store and that’s when she found out about the Craniofacial Burns Institute,” Duke Miglin said. .
Ms. Miglin grew up in Chicago as Marilyn Klecka. Her mother was Polish and her father from the former Czechoslovakia. Her father died when she was 11 and her mother went to work for a lingerie company.
Ms Miglin graduated from Schurz High School on the Northwest Side and attended Northwestern University on a math scholarship, but never graduated because she needed to work to support herself and her family , said his son.
Her jobs included nursing assistant, department store model, ballet teacher and dancer at legendary nightclub Chez Paree, where she performed alongside artists like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Jimmy Durante.
Her most important working title, however, was mother.
“She was just the most amazing mother you could have. She went out of her way to do everything to make sure we were okay in every way,” said real estate developer Duke Miglin. He previously worked as an actor and played a pilot in the movie “Air Force One” which starred Harrison Ford.
Ms Miglin’s second husband, Egyptian businessman Naguib Mankarious, died in 2000 following plastic surgery.
Among the many other charities she supported was the Anti-Cruelty Society.
“She was a strong supporter of ours and also did rescue work,” said Lydia Krupinski, the organization’s vice president for mission impact.
“She brought us 13 cats she found stray outside so we could adopt them. She also adopted us and also supported us financially,” Krupinski said.
Besides her son and daughter, Ms. Miglin is survived by six grandchildren.