The life and legacy of Brownie Wise, the Southern single mom- and postwar #girlboss- whose Tupperware parties sparked a cultural revolution.
Before Mary Kay, Martha Stewart, and Joy Mangono, there was Brownie Wise, the charismatic Tupperware executive who converted post war optimism into a record-breaking sales engine powered by American housewives. In Life of the Party, Bob Kealing offers the definitive portrait of Wise, a plucky businesswoman who divorced her alcoholic husband, started her own successful business, and bristled at suggestions that management was “no place for a woman,” before catching the eye of Tupperware inventor, Earl Tupper, whose plastic containers were collecting dust on store shelves.
The Tupperware party that Wise popularized, a master class in the soft sell, drove the company’s sales to sour heights. It also gave minimally educated and economically invisible postwar women an acceptable outlet for making their own money- and then rewarded them for their efforts.
With the people skills of Dale Carnegie, the looks of Doris day, and the magnetism of Eva Peron, Wise was as popular among her followers as she was among the press, and she became the first woman to appear on the cover of Business Week in 1954. Then, at the height of her success, Wise’s ascents ended as quickly as it began. In 1958, Tupper fired her under mysterious circumstances, wrote her out of Tupperware’s success story, and left her with a pittance. He walked away with a fortune and she disappeared- until now.
Originally published as Tupperware Unsealed in 2008, this revised and updated edited presents a fuller examination of Brownie Wise’s life and career, giving an overlooked business icon the chance to earn, at long last, the recognition she deserves.
Life of the Party the remarkable story of how Brownie Wise... Empire by Bob Keal