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Born: May 25, 1972
Montgomery, Alabama, USA
Madam C.J. Walker (born Sarah Breedlove)
Born: December 23, 1867
Birthplace: Delta, Louisiana, USA
Death: May 25, 1919, Irvington-on-Hudson, New York, USA (kidney failure from high blood pressure)
Born: December 3, 1979
Los Angeles, California, USA
Born: June 6, 1885
Birthplace: Vicksburg, Mississippi, USA
Death: August 17, 1931, Long Branch, New Jersey, USA (cerebral hemorrhage due to high blood pressure)
Born: October 22, 1973
Kensington, London, England, UK
Born: August 9, 1877
Birthplace: Metropolis, Illinois, USA
Death: May 10, 1957, Chicago, Illinois, USA (stroke)
Renamed Addie Munroe in the Series
Yes. Born Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867 in the vicinity of Delta, Louisiana, she was one of Owen and Minerva Breedlove's six children and the first to be born into freedom after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The Self Made true story reveals that Sarah's parents and her older siblings had been owned by Robert W. Burney on his plantation in Madison Parish, Louisiana. Her father had been a farm laborer and her mother a laundress. Her mother died in 1872 when Sarah was just four years old, most likely from cholera. Her father passed away roughly one year later. To learn more about Sarah's childhood, read her great-great-granddaughter A'Lelia Bundles' biography On Her Own Ground, which provided the basis for the Netflix series Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker.
Yes. After her first husband, Moses McWilliams, died in 1887, Sarah moved to St. Louis where three of her brothers were living. According to her great-great granddaughter A'Lelia Bundles' biography Self Made (originally titled On Her Own Ground), it was there that she learned about hair care from her three brothers who were barbers.
Yes. Sarah Breedlove met Annie Malone (pictured below) at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. Annie, who is renamed Addie Munroe in the series, gave her tips on how to get rid of her bald spots, telling her to wash her hair regularly and use a sulfur-based scalp treatment. She ended up becoming a commission agent for Malone, selling Malone's Wonderful Hair Grower, in addition to other products that were part of the Poro Company, owned by Malone.
Yes. Annie Malone indeed accused her former employee of stealing her formula. While it's true that Sarah came up with a slightly tweaked version of Malone's sulfur recipe, the combination of petroleum jelly and sulfur had been in use at the time for approximately a hundred years. -Collectors Weekly
Yes. Sarah married Charles Joseph Walker in January 1906. They had met while Sarah was working as a laundress in St. Louis, washing clothes in the homes of wealthy Whites and earning very little money. Charles is portrayed by Blair Underwood in the Netflix limited series Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker. The marriage lasted six years. During that time, Sarah Breedlove became known as Madam C.J. Walker. Like in the Netflix series, Charles worked on the business with her, including helping her to put ads in Black newspapers. They divorced in 1912.
Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, had been married a total of three times. Her first marriage was to Moses McWilliams in 1882 when she was just 14. According to A'Lelia Bundles' book On Her Own Ground (republished as Self Made) on which the Netflix series is based, she agreed to the marriage in order to escape her abusive brother-in-law, Jesse Powell. The couple had one child, a daughter named Lelia, born on June 6, 1885. The marriage ended in 1887 when Moses died. Sarah was twenty at the time and Lelia two. It was then that she moved to St. Louis where three of her brothers lived. In 1894, she married her second husband, John Davis, but she left him around 1903, prior to her business taking off. As stated in the previous question, she married her third husband, Charles Joseph (C.J.) Walker, in 1906.
Like in the Netflix series, the Self Made true story confirms that her business expanded well beyond her miracle hair grower. She released a variety of other products, including a shampoo. She established a factory in Indianapolis, a beauty school, and a salon. She expanded throughout much of the United States, and after her business flourished, she sold her products in Central America and the Caribbean. She employed a plethora of women, training them as sales representatives and hairstylists.
This is what the Netflix series asserts, but technically, it may be incorrect. According to her great-great-granddaughter A'Lelia Bundles' book, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker, her estate was estimated to be worth between $600,000 and $700,000 at the time of her death. The New York Times had confirmed this in her obituary, stating, "she said herself two years ago [in 1917] that she was not yet a millionaire, but hoped to be some time."
The decision to label her a millionaire in the Netflix series likely stems in part from the fact that she was eulogized as America's first female self-made millionaire. The Guinness Book of Records also cites her as the first woman to become a millionaire by way of her own achievements, a valuation that seems to be technically incorrect. Still, not only did she live like a millionaire, it's worth noting that in terms of today's dollars, $600,000 is about $9 million. This adjustment for inflation is the reason some have placed her net worth as high as $10 million. Near the end of her life, Walker had moved into the lavish 34-room, 20,000-square-foot Italianate-style mansion Villa Lewaro, which she had hired architect Vertner Tandy to design. To learn more about her net worth, watch our video Madam C.J. Walker's Net Worth Explained.
Not likely. Self Made depicts Madam C.J. Walker's daughter A'Lelia in a relationship with a photographer named Esther. There was no real-life Esther. "What is portrayed in the series is certainly not something that really happened," says her great-granddaughter and namesake A'Lelia Bundles. "And it certainly wasn't a source of conflict with [her] mother." The series is certain about A'Lelia's sexuality, but the real-life details of her dating history are mostly unknown. We do know that she had three failed marriages. Bundles says that she did find evidence that A'Lelia may have been in a relationship with a woman after her third marriage ended, but she was never known to identify as bisexual or lesbian. Bundles described the woman as "a person who was a longtime friend of hers." What we do know for sure is that A'Lelia was supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. She had queer friends and hosted parties that they attended. -OprahMag.com
Not exactly. The Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company closed its doors in July 1981. However, beginning in March 2016, her name began appearing on a new line launched by Sundial Brands, Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture, which was being sold at Sephora and still is as of the posting of this article.