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 Fleur Cowles

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Fleur Cowles

  • Birth 20 Jan 1908 New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
  • Death 5 Jun 2009 England
  • Burial Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend
  • Memorial ID 38073294

Author, Editor, Painter. In a long and varied life, she probably made her greatest impression with the short-lived magazine "Flair". Born Florence Freidman, she was raised in Montclair, New Jersey, from an early age. (She deliberately kept her origins mysterious: her maiden name was either Fenton or Freeman, and her birth was variously in New Jersey or Boston, anywhere between 1910 and 1917. Census records support the information above). She attended high school in Bloomfield, and, maybe, the School of Fine and Applied Arts in New York. Her professional career began at 15 (according to her) as an advertising copywriter for Gimbels; she wrote a fashion column for the "New York World-Telegram" until 1934, then partnered with her second husband in her own advertising agency. During WWII, she was a speech writer for the War Production Board, and a consultant to the Famine Emergency Committee. In 1946, she married publishing magnate Mike Cowles, whose name she was to keep (adopting "Fleur" around the same time), and became an editor of "Look" magazine. Always having dreamed of producing her own upscale publication, Cowles set to work on "Flair". A preview issue in September, 1949, featured a two-layer cover, and art reproductions. Published between February, 1950, and January, 1951, "Flair" was probably too far ahead of its time, featuring fold-outs, high quality paper (differing types within the same issue), removable art, "sctatch-and-sniff" 40 years before it was common, and articles by the literary elite of the day, including Tennessee Williams, Ogden Nash, Clare Boothe Luce, and Winston Churchill. Though the magazine was expensive for the time (50 cents), and sold well, it lost money, and was withdrawn. Despite its financial "failure", "Flair" continues to influence the publishing industry; in 1996, "The Best of Flair" sold well at $250 per copy, and in 2003 the Pratt Institute produced an art exhibit devoted to the work. After the demise of her periodical, Cowles worked in President Eisenhower's 1952 campaign, traveled on fact-finding missions for him, and served as his special envoy to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Shortly after her 1955 divorce, she married Tom Montague Meyer, and moved to England, where she remained. She played hostess to a virtual catalog of the famous (always with her trademark rose, and her large jade ring), wrote, and painted. Cowels published two anecdotal autobiograpies, "Friends and Memories" (1975), and "She Made Friends and Kept Them" (1996). Previously, she had released biographies of the Perons (1951), and of Salvador Dali (1959); in later years, she wrote and illustrated "People as Animals", "The Flower Game", and "The Life and Times of the Rose". As a painter, she specialized in animals and flowers, and, indeed has two varieties of roses, "Flair" and "Fleur Cowles", named in her honor. A Senior Fellow of the Royal College of Art, her work has been shown in several galleries around the world. Cowels died in a Sussex nursing home. Of her multi-faceted life she said: "I have an idea a minute. I'm a born idea myself".

Bio by: Bob Hufford


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 8 Jun 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 38073294
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Fleur Cowles (20 Jan 1908–5 Jun 2009), Find A Grave Memorial no. 38073294, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.