By Stacey Shick
In 1988, the world's major cosmetics companies were run by men. Ronald Perelman was in the middle of turning around Revlon Inc.; Leonard Lauder headed the company named for his mother, Estee; Lindsay Owen-Jones was appointed chairman and CEO of L'Oreal SA.
And Erica Kane, a former model, founded Enchantment, a cosmetics company that would take on them all from the fictional town of Pine Valley, Pennsylvania.
In the run-up to the final episode of the ABC soap opera "All My Children," which airs today, there have been plenty of articles looking back at 41 years of marriages, divorces, affairs, births, deaths and resurrections. By New York magazine's count, Kane alone accounts for a dozen marriages, compared with 21 Emmy nominations for the actress who portrays her, Susan Lucci.
But in a genre often derided as cotton candy for housewives and college students, there's another point worth remembering about about "All My Children:" its portrayal of women in business.
Kane, while dealing with addiction, pregnancy complications and the odd kidnapping, proved to be a role model as a female CEO for 15 years. (She went on to be arrested for insider trading, but let's not dwell on that.)
Kane's daughter Kendall Hart and her best friend-rival Greenlee Smythe later founded Fusion, a rival cosmetics company that eventually came to employ virtually every young female character on the show.
Women ran the small businesses on the show, too: Opal Cortlandt's Glamorama, Myrtle Fargate's boarding house (in operation for 30 years!) and Krystal Carey's namesake restaurant.
And they found their success despite tornadoes, explosions and serial killers. While wearing fabulous heels.
(Stacey Shick is an editor for Bloomberg View.)-0- Sep/23/2011 18:22 GMT