Born Tove Traesnaes on November 17, 1941, in Oslo, she was three-times married and selling cosmetics to Las Vegas showgirls when introduced to her future husband, himself four-times married, in 1971 by entertainer Marty Allen.
Though both had reservations, they were seemingly soulmates, marrying in 1973 and staying together until Mr. Borgnine's death at 95 in 2012. She even published a book called "Being Married Happily Forever: 22 Secrets, 12 Strategies, and 8 Compromises" (1997), extolling the virtues of making one's husband the king of one's castle.
Borgnine's beauty empire began in 1976, when she asked Hollywood legend Merle Oberon the secret to her youthful skin. Oberon confessed to using a cactus-based mask from a family in Mexico that was referred to as "an ancient Aztec formula." Borgnine bought the formula from the family, and her husband — known for his craggy looks — became both her guinea pig and walking advertising, leading to a wealth of initial sales.
Ms. Borgnine's customers included Burt Reynolds (with whom she developed a men's line), Charo, Elke Sommer and Steve McQueen, and she reportedly enjoyed sales of between $15-$20 million annually — all via mail order.
The telegenic Borgnine's fortunes were enhanced by her ability to sell herself on QVC, where she was a star.