You may not recognition the name, but Hilda Clark is one of the most famous women in early Leavenworth history.
Born in 1872 in Leavenworth, Clark would become a famous singer, actor, model and socialite on the East Coast before becoming the “face” of Coca-Cola.
In 1895, she became the first woman to be featured on a tin Coca-Cola tray.
Her likeness would appear on Coca-Cola advertising on bookmarks, calendars, billboards, trading cards, clocks, coupons and more for the next several years.
“Her face was everywhere that Coke was sold,” said Ken LaMaster, a Leavenworth historian and author. “Everyone who collects Coke memorabilia looks for her stuff. Her stuff is like the Holy Grail of Coke collectibles.”
Although he can’t say for sure, LaMaster said Clark was likely chosen for the Coca-Cola advertising due to her celebrity status as a singer and actress on stages in Boston and New York.
In 1872, Clark was born to Lydia and Milton Edward Clark. As a young adult, she moved to Boston and became an entertainer and model.
She remained the face of Coca-Cola until 1903 when she married Frederick Stanton Flower, a millionaire involved in banking and the railroads.
After marrying Flower, Clark’s acting, singing and modeling days were over.
Clark died on May 5, 1932, in Miami, Florida. She is buried at Brookside Cemetery in Watertown, New York.