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AMERICAN MOSAIC - Estee Lauder / Kirsten Dunst / Mother’s Day - 2004-05-07

Broadcast: May 7, 2004


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.


This is Doug Johnson.

On our show this week ... music for Mother’s Day -- it's this Sunday. And a question about the actress Kirsten Dunst. But first, we remember a woman whose products are used by millions of people hoping to look their best.

Estee Lauder


America has lost one of its most successful businesswomen. Estee Lauder died on April twenty-fourth in New York. She was ninety-seven years old. Bob Doughty looks back at her life and work.


“Beauty is an attitude,” Estee Lauder once said. But for her it was also a big business. Estee Lauder spent more than seventy years in the beauty products industry. Today, the business she founded, Estee Lauder Companies, is worth about ten-thousand-million dollars. Its products are in stores around the world. And, it employs more than twenty-thousand people.

Estee Lauder once said, “I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” That business drive came early. She was born Josephine Esther Mentzer in Queens, New York. Her parents came from Hungary. They owned a hardware store. They did not have much money. But they did have a beautiful daughter.

Her uncle was a chemist. She worked with him to develop skin care creams. This was in the nineteen-twenties. She was a teen-ager. But she sold the products in New York City. Often, she stopped women on the streets. She let them try the creams for free. She called her products “jars of hope.”

Soon, she was selling to large stores visited mostly by wealthy women. She would say things like “I have the secrets” and “start the New Year with a new face.”

She also employed many smart sales tricks. For example, she invented the “gift with purchase” marketing idea. If you have ever bought a product and received another for free, thank Estee Lauder.

She linked her makeup and perfumes with images of wealth and culture. She sent her products to influential women to try. This was the way she got Princess Grace of Monaco to use them. Estee Lauder also put her products in pretty containers. And, she employed some of the world’s most beautiful women as models.

Her business partner was her husband, Joseph Lauder. They got married in nineteen-thirty. They divorced at one point, but three years later got married again. Mister Lauder died in nineteen-eighty-three. Missus Lauder retired in nineteen-ninety-five.Their two sons are both leaders in the company. When Estee Lauder died, her sons said she was as great a mother as she was a businesswoman.

Kirsten Dunst


Our VOA listener question this week is about Kirsten (KEER-stin) Dunst. Millions of movie-watchers know this young actress best from "Spider-Man." Mai Lien in Vietnam asks how old she is, where she is from and what is her latest film project.

Kirsten Dunst was born in nineteen-eighty-two in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. In fact, she just had a birthday, on April thirtieth. She is twenty-two years old.

Kirsten began to work in television at the age of three. She appeared first in commercials for different products. She got her first movie part in nineteen-eighty-nine. It was in a film by Woody Allen called “New York Stories.”

In nineteen-ninety-three, her family moved from the East Coast to California, to live in Los Angeles. Kirsten was now in the capital of the American movie industry: Hollywood. The following year, she got a part in the movie “Interview with a Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles.” Kirsten worked with actors Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.

Movie critics praised her performance in “Interview with a Vampire.” The Hollywood Foreign Press Association nominated her for a Golden Globe award. Not bad for an eleven-year-old! Next, Kirsten was in the movie “Little Women.”

In nineteen-ninety-six, she began to appear on "E.R." That is a popular television series about a hospital emergency room. She played a kid who lived on the streets. Again, she received praise for her acting.

Since then, Kirsten Dunst has worked in more than twenty movies. Right now she appears in the film "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." And she recently finished work on “Wimbledon."

But her most popular movie so far has earned more than eight-hundred-twenty-million dollars worldwide. Kirsten Dunst plays Mary Jane Watson, the love interest to Peter Parker. He is better known as Spider-Man. Actor Toby Maguire plays the crime-fighting superhero. He and Kirsten Dunst return in “Spider-Man Two.” It opens at the end of June.

Mother’s Day


Sunday, May ninth, is Mother’s Day in the United States. Shep O’Neal has that story.


Mother’s Day began with a woman named Anna Jarvis. She started a campaign in the early nineteen-hundreds. She and others wrote thousands of letters to important people. In nineteen-fourteen, President Woodrow Wilson and Congress finally agreed. They declared a national observance to honor mothers.

Since then, the second Sunday in May has been a day for public expressions of love for Mom.

Here is a song that expresses that love. The recording is by Lou Reid. The song is called “Mom’s Picture Book.”


On Mother’s Day, children of all ages give special gifts. Popular ones are flowers, or books, or candy. Some young children learn a Mother’s Day song in school. This song also helps them learn how to spell.


Even children old enough to have their own children will not forget their mothers this Sunday. Mother’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year for telephone companies.

Fathers have their day, in June.


This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC.

Send your questions about American life to Or write to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, USA.

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This program was written by Nancy Steinbach and Caty Weaver. Paul Thompson was our producer. And our engineer was Wagner Roberts. Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.