Written by Lazy Gardens
Mary Kay Ash said, “A woman who will tell her age will tell anything.” She never told her age. She also never mentioned other details that might have interfered with her carefully crafted public image as the plucky divorced single mother of three from the wrong side of the tracks who founded a cosmetics company to give women like her a chance. Somewhere, somehow, she managed to lose track of two of her five (or seven) husbands.
That’s right… Mary Kay “Ash” had seven husbands, but she (and her beloved Mary Kay Cosmetics) conveniently forgets to mention them. Mary Kay’s autobiography talks of “my husband,” but it’s not clear to the reader that she is referring to five different men. Her sixth husband died but is rarely mentioned. And Mel Ash, the one so many are familiar with, is the seventh, the last, and the one who gets the most air time.
Here’s the rundown of Mary Kay’s serial marriages:
- Husband Number One: Julius Ben Rogers, Jr. was a locally famous musician in 1930s Houston. Mary Kay Wagner and Ben Rogers married in 1935, when she was 17 and he was 20. Their daughter Marylyn was born May 17, 1935, just five days after Mary Kay’s 17th birthday. They divorced in the mid-40s.
- Husband Number Two: The first clue to the presence of hubby number two was in “Think Mink“, the autobiography of Ash’s good friend Mary Carter Crowley. Describing how they met in Dallas in the late 1940s, Crowley refers to Mary Kay Eckman, not Rogers. Clarence Blair Eckman was an older executive at Stanley Home Products, where Mary Kay worked. Clarence Blair Eckman died June 1, 1947. His obituary in the Dallas Morning News mentions his widow Mary Kathlyn, and his two adult sons.
- Husband Number Three: In Think Mink, Mary Carter Crowley writes, “Mary Kay married my brother and moved away from Dallas“. This marriage to Charles Weaver appears to have lasted about 9 years, during which Mary Kay’s two older children left home, leaving her youngest son, Richard.
- Husbands Four and Five: In the 2010 book, “Ask ME about Mary Kay“, author Jackie Brown mentions seeing two other last names on documents related to the purchase of the formulas used in the first products made for Mary Kay’s cosmetics company. The names were Louis and Miller. Jackie Brown also reports that Mary Kay Ash admitted to using those names, as well as Rogers, Eckman and Weaver during her testimony for the lawsuit between Mary Kay cosmetics and Beauticontrol, Inc.
- Husband Number Six: George Arthur Hallenbeck (1914-1963) – Usually identified as husband number two, Hallenbeck dropped dead at the breakfast table in 1963 after a very short marriage, providing a dramatic incident in the founding of Mary Kay’s cosmetics company.
- Husband Number Seven: Melville Jerome Ash (1905 – 1980) is the most publicized of Mary Kathlyn Wagner’s husbands. They married January 6, 1966. Oddly, the marriage record names Mary Kay Weaver (not Hallenbeck) as his spouse. Mel Ash died July 7, 1980. His obituary mentions an adult daughter and three grandsons.
Conclusions: The plucky divorcée, the single mom scrabbling to take care of her three children, was married for most of the time her children were minors. Add it up: eleven years married to Ben Rogers, one or two married to Clarence Eckman, an unknown time married to Louis and Miller, and nine years married to Charles Weaver.
That give us Mary Kay Wagner Rogers Louis Eckman Weaver Miller Hallenbeck Ash.
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