Estée made up

Along with Estée Lauder's fame and fortune in cosmetics came her fanciful stories.


Like the silent movie star, Pola Negri, she made apocryphal statements about her ancestry.

It is not impossible but unlikely that her Jewish Hungarian maternal grandfather would have found and married, as Estée said, a Roman Catholic French woman and lived with her over a thousand miles away from France.


And there is no evidence that Emperor Francis Joseph would have as much as known of the existence of her father Max, whose education finished in middle school, while Estée claimed Francis Joseph attempted to make Max marry the emperor's niece before he left the kingdom for the United States at the age of 22.

Mother's DOB

Rosa was about six years older than Max. Perhaps to reduce the difference, she kept giving more recent years of her birth as time went by. When she arrived in the U.S, she said she was 29, but aged by only 26 years during the following 32 years, while Max had shaved off two years from his age by the 1930 Census.

Scared of being the age she was like her mother, Estée called her own birthday "the best-kept secret since D Day" through at least her 80s.

Father's home


The territory of Slovakia, outlined in red, while it was part of the former kingdom (beige) and often referred to as the "Upper Country."


The village of Holice dates back to the 13th century or earlier. It used to be a regional center, its Sts. Peter and Paul Church was founded in the 14th century, some frescoes have survived since then.


There was no synagogue in Holice, but the local Jews maintained a (click on) cemetery for themselves.

Estée Lauder

Q: Was Estée Lauder's father from Slovakia?

Estée Lauder was born as Josephine Esther Mentzer in New York on 1 July 1908. She claimed that her parents intended to name her Esty, which they called her at home, but that was merely a nickname, pronounced [EStee] (spelled Eszti in Hungarian and Esti in Slovak), commonly used for Esther in her parents' country of origin, the Kingdom of Hungary, a province in the Habsburg Empire. The spelling of her nickname was later refashioned to give it the appearance of a French name. Estée Lauder died in New York on 24 April 2004.

Father Max Mentzer

One of Max Mentzer's records gives his birth as 15 January 1875 (in others he entered years from 1875 through 1877). His records give his country of origin consistently as the Kingdom of Hungary, a province in the Habsburg Empire, i.e., the same as that of Estée's mother. He said he immigrated in 1897. Estée was born as the younger of his two children who survived till adulthood.

Estée said her father was Jewish and "Czechoslovakian." The kingdom's northern part, Slovakia, commonly called the "Upper Country" then, was incorporated in the newly created Czecho-Slovakia in 1918. While Czechoslovakia did not exist when her future father emigrated from the kingdom, Estée may have given his origin based on her knowledge that he came from the kingdom's Slovak part and that his birthplace had, indeed, been included in Czechoslovakia by the time she was old enough to understand.

Limited sources back that, giving his place of origin as Holice in south-western Slovakia and a variation on the spelling of his last name as Menczer. Perhaps in concurrence, several people called Mentzer or Menczer lived in the vicinity, 7 to 20 miles from Holice, until World War II.

Mother Rosa Schotz

When Estée's future mother, Rosa née Schotz, immigrated from Sátoráljaújhely, her last name was Rosenthal, because she had already been married for about a decade and had five children with whom she sailed to New York in order to join her husband, whose first name she gave as Samuel (some accounts assign a name to him that she did not list).

Rosa, her name anglicized to Rose, met and began to live with her second life partner Max Mentzer in New York. No records of her divorce from Samuel, Samuel's death, or her marriage to Max have been traced, but Max reported Rose as his wife to census takers.