What happened to home perm maker Toni and those famous Toni twins?
Toni was synonymous with home permanents, and their advertising was all over game shows in the early TV era. Like Doublemint, Toni had twins in their advertising. An old ad from www.Old-Time.com tells the story of the brand, and the twins. (Note, the girls started looking hotter as the U.S. moved out of the radio era.)
Toni was purchased by Gillette in 1948 for $12 million from founders Neison and Irving Harris. Toni is still around a bit; the Toni Silkwave product is still sold at Walgreens. But its product line is no longer big and Gillette is now part of Proctor & Gamble.
But what happened to the other Toni products, including Toni shampoo? And then there was Tonette, the hair permanent for kids?
Gillette sold the remnants of Toni (what it called its White Rain line of hair care products) to Tampa-based Diamond Products Company in April of 2000, including a Gillette factory in St. Paul. According to The New York Times report, the White Rain line generated sales of $110 million in 1999 and then included brands like:
- Adorn. At writing, still available at Walgreens.com.
- Dippity-Do. Still available at Amazon.com.
- Mink Difference
- Lilt Home Perm
- Toni Epic Waves
- Dry Look (Gotta love those groovy Dry Look bottles!)
- Toni brands
- White Rain (still around)
Here is the problem. Toni was part of the brand for all of these products. While some survived, they could not survive on their own. It would have been like trying to sell a Triscuit without the Nabisco in the corner.
BrandlandUSA Rule: Company Brands Are Important
There are product name brands. And then there are company brand names. Brand managers often disconnect the two. Often, a brand has been sold WITH the company name. Sometimes a company brand can become a product brand, or vice versa. This happened with Condé Nast Traveler. When Harold Evans started up the distinguished travel monthly, they picked the company name to give credibility to the new venture. These connections are decades old, and consumers only trust a certain product with a certain company name. Branding guys — you have to keep the company brand or things start screwing up. If you keep the company brand around, and keep it separate, you have two brands in your quiver, not one.
- Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes
- Speed Stick by Mennen
- Gillette Trac 2
- Alberto VO5
- Vogue and Vanity Fair by Conde Nast
- Old Spice by Shulton (then a Moosic, Pa. division of American Cynamid)
- Lucky Charms and General Mills
- Jell-O and General Foods.
In Adelaide, South Australia, 1952 although sisters and not twins we had the perm! I was 12 years and my sister Gay, aged 6.
Now it is 2023 and I am almost 83 and my sister 77. Thanks to Toni we are both doing exceptionally well, except that my hair is now straightish and very grey but I look and feel pretty darn good!
I still have that 1952 photo but can’t seem to post it!
Have been looking for pictures of Rita and Zelda Simen for my best friend Joanne Locke above article her brother Bill Dorance The twins were from New Jersey and must have been Toni twins in the early 1950’s They both graduated from a prestige college I believe Cornell University Unfortunately they both passed at a young age while raising little children .if their Toni pictures are out there I would love to have them or see a picture to take a picture We have not been able to find them
re” the Toni name. I have a copy of the article where he talks about how he came up with the Toni Name.
My mother was also a Toni Twin – Frances and Bernadette Hanson, one of the original campaign sets. Europe/Cuba/USA.
She wrote of their adventures everyday, “Dear Scrapbook”. I and my cousins would love to share pictures and stories.
my email: email@example.com.
I started to put a book together for my family – pictorial history of their Toni adventure. you can look here and read about it. DON’t purchase but just wanted to share.
Thank you for posting that link. I loved it. The photos are so neat. What a great idea! People will enjoy seeing that.
My sister Sonia and I (diana) were the youngest (age 12) Toni twins in Australia
Regards. Diana Lindsay. Was James !! We are now 81 and very well !!!
Hi Annalynn, My mother Bernadette Hanson and her sister Frances were on that trip through post war Europe and we have their photo albums of the trip. My mother spoke fondly of the “Ring Twins” when we’d travel down memory lane. Bernadette and Frances have passed. We treasure the stories of that trip, their red & white trimmed leather suitcases (that we had until at least the 80’s), the celebrities they met, photos of all the twins posed on giant tires of military airplanes, their introduction of powdered instant soup to the chef at the Connaught Hotel late one night in London and many other treasured moments. All the best to your family.
Our father’s cousins, Kathleene (Ring) Golden and Katherine (Ring) Carlson were born 1926 in Centralia, Illinois. Their mother Johnny was my grandmother Margaret’s sister. They ring twins were the original Toni Twins. See grandaughter, Sarah Golden’s post above. When I met them in Debary, Florida, the twins explained they were selected to model with the Toni Company of Chicago when it was originally a soft water shampoo campaign. Then, it evolved into the Toni Home Permenant Advertisement Campaign where they chose the Anderson twins. The girls traveled with six sets of Toni twins abroad to Europe for 4+ weeks; England, Scotland, Ireland, France and Belgium. Both Ring girls were finalists in several Miss Photo Flash contests in Chicago, as well. They attended Vogue Dress Design School in Chicago and went on to design dresses. They retired to Florida. They have both sadly passed away; Kathleene, 74 years old (2001) and Katherine, 81 (2007). When I interviewed them circa 1996, they were funny, charming and beautiful inside and out. If related, contact me. I have newspaper articles & photos.
This is a great bit of history Annalyn…. thank you for adding it.
Garland pollard, Thank you. Happy to share. I just happened upon this sight while working on our family tree. The Ring twins are also mentioned in a book of fads, “sandwiched between hula hoops and Elvis” they said. It is called Fads: America’s Crazes, Fevers & Fancies from the 1890’s to the 1970’s written by Peter L. Skolnik, Laura Torbet and Nikki Smith. The Ring twins mentioned this book in a March 21, 1997 Orlando Sentinel interview by Bo Poertner. Kathleene and Katherine are featured as “The First Toni Twins” on page 131. ISBN#0690012152, 9780690012156. They really were so fun to talk to. They had so much fun modeling and traveling back in the 40s. I purchased some stock photos of them on Historic Images Outlet. Every once in a while they post some of the girls. Sincerely, Annalyn
Claudia, That is so neat. Thank you for sharing. The Ring twins were so genuine, kind, talkative and funny too. Catherine and Kathleene had so much fun with all of those girls. I do recognize those Hanson names! Couldn’t you just sit around all day listening to stories about their hilarious adventurous escapades. I did not want to leave. So I spent the night to hear more. They showed me photo albums, their framed first ad, the book they are in and some newspaper articles. Then they told me funny stories about my daddy, their cousin. I remember they were STILL quite annoyed over the “Seeing Double? Toni Twins abroad photo. They explained the wind blew very hard when they posed all of the twins in front of the plane. It made all of their hair fly up all funny. Your mother and her sister had my cousins, the Ring girls cracking up about it. Of course that was a picture the media chose to promote. Do you have that photo? It is on Newspapers.com. Des Moines Tribune. October 22, 1948. Page 22. LOL, Blessings to you and yours, Annalyn
I’m with the original Toni twin right now
Her sister is alive and well too
My mother, Margaret Hovland and her twin sister Marilyn Hovland were from Seattle, Washington. They were selected as Toni Twins, but I’m not sure what year, and flown to Kansas City for the filming. It was an event neither of them ever forgot. Both have since passed away, Lynn in 2012 and my mother Margaret (or Margie as she was known to her friends) in 2014.
My mother Janet Leigh Figg died December 20th 2016. On December 1, 2017 she was placed in the Columbarium at Arlington National Cemetery along side her husband James Alfred Figg Jr. Not only was she beautiful on the inside and out, she was a wonderful wife and mother. She will be missed!
I’m the daughter of the 1949 toni twins Helene and Kathy. Yes, they have both passed. Their last names were not mevo, that’s my aunt kathys married name.
The person who wrote the comment above, Gina, hi! How are you related?
My teacher and her sister were Toni twins The williams sisters. Gwen and Gail. Gwen was my 7 th grade teacher.
Bob Burchfield Grand Rapids Mi
My sister and I were Hawaii’s Toni Twins in 1946. We were employees of Sears at that time. My sister lives in Colorado and I live in Ohio. A lot of people don’t know about Toni Twins nowadays.
What are the names of the twins on the magazine cover?
Norma and Marge were the original Toni Twins. They are both still enjoying life, one owns the Snow Queen Lodge in Aspen and the other living in Honolulu.
Their mother had them on stage when they were quite young, singing and dancing.
My Mother & Aunt, Janet & Jane Leigh were Toni Twins. They just celebrated their 87th Birthdays on March 5th &6th 2015.
Unfortunately they both have Alzheimers .
So sad. They are still so beautiful.
I was told that my grandmother, Katherine Ring, along with her twin sister Kathleene were the original Toni Twins. However I also have heard about a story about several other sets of twins claiming to be the original Toni Twins themselves.
Sarah Carlson, Katherine and Kathleene Ring are the original set of twins. Their first twin ad predates all others :). The reason for the confusion is they were with the soft water shampoo campaign. It later became the Toni perm campaign. Another set of twins was chosen for those ads…Anderson twins maybe??? However our cousins are in the first ad. Did you know they are in a book called Fads: America’s Crazes, Fevers & Fancies from the 1890’s to the 1970’s written by Peter L. Skolnik, Laura Torbet and Nikki Smith. It references them as the first on P. 131. Sincerely, Annalyn
I’d love to see an ad with them in it as I am putting together a multi-media presentation for my mother’s memorial in a few weeks.
My mother Margaret Anne Hovland and her twin sister, Marilyn Anne Hovland- Cochran were both Toni twins, I believe in the 1940’s. From Seattle, they were flown back to Kansas City for the shoot. However, I was never clear on whether it was for television advertising, or print advertising or both. Unfortunately, they have both since passed on; My aunt a year ago last June and my mother just this last August.
Sarah and Terry, I knew Kathleen. I bought her home in Illinois before she moved to Florida in 1996. I will never forget her and her husband, Edward. Kathleen gave me a newspaper clipping of the Toni Ad she and her sister were in.
A reader Joan Roylanc sent this in:
I came from Paterson, New Jersey
My Doctor at the time, late 40’s to mid 60’s was Dr. Fred James Crescente. He always mentioned that his twin daughters were the original Toni Twins. His wife’s name was Helene, but I don’t remember the names of the twins. Dr. Crescente was co owner of the NY Titans, football team, along with Harry Wismer. Wismer died first.
Dr. Crescente passed away in 1979 from Cancer.
The names were Helene and Kathleen who was my Mother
My Grandmother was Kathleen Ring. I was also told Terry, that she was of the original Toni twins. Here is an article I found about it that may be of interest to you. http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1997-03-21/news/9703201506_1_mirror-twins-katherine-carlson-twin-lives
Happy 86th Birthday to Jane and Janet Leigh!!! Still beautiful after all these years !!
I knew Pamela and Patricia Morelli who were Toni Twin’s around 1970. Any then and now pics?
My mother is Jane Leigh Bayne Bodell….Aunt Janet and Mom will be turning 86 this march and still look the same !!!
I saw your mother’s obituary in the paper. I’m sorry for your loss. She was beautiful.
My mother Janet Leigh Figg and my aunt Jane Leigh Bayne Bodell celebrated their 85th birthdays on March 5th and 6th. Janet was born just before midnight on March 5th and Jane a few mins after midnight on March 6th.
I am the personal hairdresser of the “Toni Twins”.
I have current photos and info.
Do you have any photo’s of Rita and Zelda Simen out of New Jersey in the fifties sorry responding to a old note
My mother (still living) and her sister were Toni Twins right after WWII. Bernadette and Francis Hanson. Put Toni Twins into google and you’ll find more information. They toured with several other original twins including the Anderson and Ring twins.
i married lucille dubin half of toni twin ad sister wasw fran dsookenwhen i went out on a date each one on my arm evetone called them my book ends lucille wasw voted one of the best looking girls in he model industries my grand daughter is growing up with her looks but wants to be a scietist both twins passed but the memories linger on
I have interviewed a gentleman who says that his doctor was Mary Fulstone and her twin daughters were the original Toni Twins. His senior citizen story will appear in the Humboldt Sun newspaper of Winnemucca, NV on Jan. 20, 2012.
My Mother, Jeanne Fulstone Corfee, and my Aunt, Eleanor Fulstone Killebrew, were the original Toni Twins! They still look fab and are doing great. I would like to post a pic of them!!! They both exercise, play tennis, bridge, are social and so fun!!!! Someone really needs to do a follow up on them. They are 82 and gorgeous!!!!!
We do not have ads and creative contests like we use to. What a historic marketing event, and so unique!!!
Two cowgirls from the tiniest ranching community of Smith, Nevada…make it big. A friend of their parents submitted their picture!!! They did not even know!!!
my wife and I meet one of the Toni twins once a week in Dartford UK, This week both turned up, They are very good friends,
My mom and my aunt (Camille & Dolores) were the Toni Twins from San Francisco in the 40’s. They are both still healthy and we talk about this from time to time. They haven’t changed a bit.
I was told that my grandmother and her twin sister were the first Toni twins. Their names are Beverly and Barbara Dahm. They even had their own comic strip.
My mom and her twin sister (Pat and Mary Donovan) were the Toni Twins from Elizabeth, NJ back in the early 50’s. They looked great back then and look just as great today!
A note from a BrandlandUSA Reader:
I was looking at Toni Twins on the ‘net, and came across your question as to the Ring twins, Kathleen and katheren(?)
I think that I worked with their father, Leonard Ring who was the roundhouse clerk for the Illinois Central RR in Cherokee, iowa about that time. He had two very beautiful daughters and I do believe that their names were Kathleen and Katherine (?), and I do know that he was very proud of them and the fact that they were Toni Twins.
Just thought I would answer a part of your request.
C. J. Lyman
This is not about the twins, but there was an obituary in today’s Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, CA, Bay Area News Group) for Toni Laurance Finger. The obituary claims that Toni was named after her “after the inventor met the young Toni at a family dinner.” This was probably near Milwaukee WI, based on the information in the obituary about her hometown. I have absolutely no idea if the above is true or just a charming family story.
My twin sister and I were born on New Year’s Day in 1956. We were the only twin girls born on New Year’s Day in the state of Ohio. My parents won the Toni Home Perm Contest, which you had to have twin girl’s born within the hours of 12:00 am and 8:00 am on New year’s day. There were 23 sets in the US born on that day. As far as I know, we still are the only set born on NYD in Ohio since 1956. I would like to hear from Toni Home Perm Co. .. We will be turning 55 yrs young, this New Years Day 2011.
My aunts Kathleen and Katheren Ring were Toni Twins in the 1940’s after World War II. Both have unfortuantely passed away, but I have a small billboard-style “Which Twin has the Toni” advertisement that my mother gave me before she died two years ago. It was my understanding that my aunts were the first “Toni Twins” but I don’t know that for a fact. I would like to know if they were the first.
Terry Yellig, You are my cousin 🙂 The Ring twins are my fathers 1st cousins. They were the original company twin models. There is understandably some confusion about this. The way I understood it was Kathleen and Katherine started out doing the soft water shampoo ad campaign. I think when it was Gillette? Not positive. The campaign later morphed into a Toni perm campaign. They then signed the Anderson twins and subsequently 4 more sets of twins around the same time. So they all believe they were the first. However, the Ring sisters worked at the company first. When searching ads, Kathleene and Katherine first ad predates all others :). I found…1946 Toni Home Permanent advertising campaign. Source: Chicago Tribune. Dec 5, 1946. Page 45. Also, this 1949 Toni Creme shampoo is on Newspapers.com. Honolulu Star-Bulletin. April 6, 1949. Page 31. There are 2 other ads that may be a bit earlier, (including the one up top) but I can not locate their original dates. However, in the book called Fads: America’s Crazes, Fevers & Fancies from the 1890’s to the 1970’s written by Peter L. Skolnik, Laura Torbet and Nikki Smith, Kathleene and Katherine Ring are noted as “The First Toni Twins” on page 131. ISBN#0690012152, 9780690012156. I hope this helps. Sincerely, Annalyn
Helene and Kathy Mevo were related to me and they have both passed. I have been trying to find pictures if anyone knows where…
I have alot of pictures
We heard a bit about the actual twins pictured above from Bill Dorrance:
Wanted to let you know that I am the son of Rita Simen and that is her in the picture with her sister (my aunt) on your website (not sure which is which, but others in my family and her sister know).
There are four surviving kids in our family, and four in her sisters.
June & Fran Drew are doing well. In their 80s & sharp as ever.
my twin sister (Sandra) and I were the 1985 Toni Twins
I’m glad you feel the Toni twins got hotter as the years went on. I knew the last two Toni twins and they would appreciate that!