Story behind joy movie

David O. Russell’s latest film, Joy, opens with the dedication, “Inspired by the true stories of daring women. One in particular.” That particular woman is Joy Mangano: single mother, millionaire entrepreneur, an executive producer on the film Joy, and “queen of HSN”—and the details of her life’s big-screen adaptation are almost as mysterious as the woman herself.

Mangano is most famously known for her first product: the Miracle Mop, but she holds more than 100 patents for her inventions, including Huggable Hangers, the best-selling product in HSN history. After starting her career at QVC, she led her company, Ingenious Designs LLC, to major financial success before it was purchased by HSN in 1999. Mangano has been the face of the network ever since, and in her 15th year, she remains one of HSN’s most successful sellers, with annual sales topping $150 million. She’s been named Long Island Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young, and has twice been honored for her accomplishments in Fast Company rankings of creatives and women in business. As of 2015, Mangano’s net worth is reportedly around $50 million—yet, for all her incredible success, there’s precious little additional information to be found about her. And those articles that do detail her rise to fame are virtually identical, name-dropping all the same inventions, sales numbers, awards, and career milestones you see above.

Until the release of Joy, in which Jennifer Lawrence plays a very Mangano-esque entrepreneur, Mangano has fostered what appears to be a painstakingly curated and protected image while remaining firmly in the public eye. (An example: we attended a cocktail party celebrating her 15th year with HSN, but everything about the seemingly benign event, in which we spoke with Mangano for a few moments, was deemed confidential.) Information about her life prior to creating the first prototype of the Miracle Mop in 1990, though the bulk of the story in Joy, is particularly hard to come by. The basics are out there: she was born in East Meadow, New York, in 1956. Her father’s business rented out school buses and airport shuttles, and he owned a body shop in Deer Park. She began inventing at an early age, and graduated from high school a year early and with honors. She met her husband, Anthony Miranne—a fellow business student—while studying at Pace University, and they married shortly after graduation. They had three children: Christie, Robert, and Jacqueline, before divorcing in 1989 (though they’ve remained friends and business associates). Mangano then struggled to pay the bills working as an airline-reservations manager and waitress while living with her kids in a two-bedroom ranch house in Smithtown, Long Island. In 1989, her idea for the Miracle Mop was born. And that’s about where the details end.

Mangano behind the scenes at HSN.

Courtesy of HSN.

Fergus Mason, who authored Joy: The Unofficial Biography of Miracle Mop Inventor Joy Mangano, knows this fact all too well. Of the 36 books he’s written for the biography’s publisher, BookCaps—which specializes in pieces that highlight a lesser-known or sometimes forgotten life—he says Mangano’s story is one of the most challenging jobs he’s taken on. “It was extremely hard to find information, particularly about Joy’s early life,” says Mason. “I had a lot of difficulty filling in gaps, because most of what’s available is about her shopping-channel career and what she chooses to release in interviews. The period between her divorce and starting work on the Miracle Mop was an absolute nightmare to find any information about.”

Which is what makes Joy especially fascinating—it primarily follows the main character through that little-known time from age 10 to 40, which means there are never-before-known nuggets of information about Mangano buried within the narrative. But what’s truth and what’s fiction?

Jennifer Lawrence in Joy

The real Joy met her husband during college; naturally, the details of that meeting differ in the film. Although the two eventually divorced, they remained business partners, and this is true also in the film — Joy’s husband continues to work for her even after the split. Likewise mirroring the film, the real Joy launched the Miracle Mop from within her father’s auto body shop, and it didn’t sell on QVC until she showed up to promote it herself, complete with a staged phone-in from her friend to boost sales. Some of the specifics from Mangano’s reality (the name of the friend, the initial sales numbers) are changed in the film, but the general events are true, including Mangano’s eventual sale of her company to HSN, where she remains employed.

Much of the supplemental material, characters, and events of Joy are fabricated by David O. Russell, including Joy’s envious half-sister Peggy (Elisabeth Rohm), the soap opera-obsessed personality of Joy’s mother (Virginia Madsen) and Bradley Cooper’s QVC executive. Each of these individuals are composites of people from Mangano’s life and Russell’s life, built to amplify Joy’s story and the emotional weight of her journey. An interesting reality is that the bulk of Joy’s fictional charaters, particularly her mother, father (Robert DeNiro), and half-sister, are tailor-made opponents to Joy’s success. These characters nearly break Joy’s spirit and ruin her path to success. While the real Joy’s family members weren’t so brazenly discouraging to her progress, it seems Russell felt it important to touch on the impact negative forces can have on someone’s ambition, and the value of staying true to one’s inner fight.

Jennifer Lawrence in Joy

But Joy was not first conceived as a hybrid of true story and imagination. Joy’s original script was penned by Annie Mumolo, the woman responsible for Bridesmaids (2011). She ended up receiving “story” credit on Joy after Russell, according to Fox executive Elizabeth Gabler, effectively tossed most of her script. Mumolo’s original film was a more straight-up biopic, which Russell claims he didn’t want to do, as it would narrow his interpretation of Mangano’s story as a grand, sweeping demonstration of a female tenacity bigger than any one person. Buzzfeed wrote about whether the film would have worked better as a straight-up biopic, arguing that Russell’s visionary idea for this film doesn’t hold the weight of his recent successes. Buzzfeed concludes that the film’s tone is off, and the imagined supporting characters don’t fit the film, implying that Mumolo’s script may have resulted in a better film.

As it is, Joy embellishes a true story for the sake of universal appeal. The real Joy Mangano has wildly endorsed the picture, stating there was “Not a doubt in my mind that would just do everything right, and he did.” As TIME says, “Mangano’s approval of the final product is not an endorsement of its accuracy—never a goal of Russell’s—but of the inspirational message it conveys.” From her statements, it’s reasonable to say Mangano believes Russell’s version captures the most important part of her story — her essence and her spirit — and creates a positive narrative of an underestimated woman’s drive for success.

The True Story Behind the Movie Joy

Fiction: Mangano met her first husband, Tony, when he was performing as a musician, and went on to have two kids with him

Lawrence’s Joy meets her first husband (played by Edgar Ramirez) at a party where he is singing alongside his father. In reality, Mangano met her husband Anthony Miranne at Pace University, where they were students together. In the movie, the couple has two kids, but the real couple had three children before divorcing.

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Fact: After their divorce, Mangano and Miranne remained close, and he continued to work for her company

In Joy, Tony is one of Joy’s staunchest supporters, even after their romance has cooled. In reality, the two remained not only friends and co-parents, but also colleagues. Miranne continues to work for Mangano as Executive Vice President of Sales at her company, Ingenious Designs.

MORE Joy Is Lacking, But Jennifer Lawrence Is Bliss

Fact: Mangano launched the Miracle Mop from her father’s auto body workshop on Long Island

After thinking up the Miracle Mop in 1989, Mangano invested her life savings in the product to make it a success. The early stages of development and manufacturing took place in a corner of her father’s shop, as they do in the movie under the watchful eye of Robert De Niro’s Rudy Mangano.

Mostly Fact: The Miracle Mop did not sell on QVC until Mangano went on air to sell it herself, though her first appearance was a flop

As in the film, Mangano convinced QVC that the channel’s regular mainstays didn’t know how to sell the mop, but that she could sell it if given the chance to go on air. The movie takes some liberties, however, in depicting Lawrence’s Joy having stage fright during her first time on air and failing to convince buyers of the product’s appeal. Mangano actually sold more than 18,000 Miracle Mops in her first QVC appearance.

Mostly Fact: Mangano’s best friend called in during her first appearance on QVC

In the movie, Joy’s best friend Jackie (Dascha Polanco) calls in during her first appearance on QVC, pretending to be an interested customer. This actually happened to Mangano, the only difference being that Mangano’s best friend is named Ronnie (the name Jackie was a tribute to one of her daughters).

Mostly fiction: Mangano had a vengeful half-sister, a soap opera-addicted mother and a working relationship with a QVC executive named Neil Walker

Many of the characters in Joy are either completely fictional or amalgams of several people in Mangano’s or Russell’s lives. And because much of Mangano’s personal life has been kept private, it is difficult to say for certain which parts of these characters are based in reality. According to Russell, Elisabeth Röhm’s Peggy, a jealous half-sister to Lawrence’s Joy, is completely fictional. Joy’s mother, played by Virginia Madsen and living in a world of little more than house dresses and soap operas, is a composite of several women from Mangano’s life. And Bradley Cooper’s QVC executive Neil Walker is also a composite, reflecting aspects of different businessmen at the home shopping company.

Fact: Mangano later sold her company, Ingenious Designs, to the Home Shopping Network, where she remains to this day

Though the details of the deal are glossed over in the movie (we infer the massive payoff from a fancily-coiffed Lawrence in a wood-paneled office), Mangano sold Ingenious Designs, LLC, to the Home Shopping Network in 1999 for an undisclosed amount. As of today, she has more than 100 patents, including one for HSN’s best-selling product of all time, Huggable Hangers. Her net worth is reportedly in the vicinity of $50 million.

Write to Eliza Berman at [email protected]

1. She started inventing young.

At 12, the Long Island, New York, native tinkered with her family’s toaster in an attempt to get it to roast as well as toast. “It kind of blew up,” she told us in a recent interview. Then, while working at an animal hospital as a teenager, she thought up a fluorescent flea collar for cats and dogs to make them easily visible to cars at night. (When Hartz put a similar product on the market a year later, Mangano vowed to bring her next idea to the market first.)

2. The billionaire once struggled to make ends meet.

In 1989, the divorced single mom waitressed nights and weekends and worked in airline reservations while her mother watched her three children. She even sold homemade grapevine wreaths to scratch together enough money.

3. Housework inspired her big break.

Mangano used her frustration with mopping to develop the product that would change her life — and millions of Americans’. In 1990, she borrowed money from family members and created a prototype of the Miracle Mop (which holds the Good Housekeeping Seal!). Her first production run of 100 were made in her father’s auto-body shop.

4. It didn’t sell until she went TV.

After selling a few thousand mops in her first year, she took the product to QVC. “At first, it was demonstrated on TV without me,” Mangano told 20/20. “And it didn’t do so well. They wanted to return the mop.” But she begged for a chance to sell it herself. “I got on stage and the phones went crazy and we sold out every last mop,” Mangano added. She sold 18,000 in 20 minutes.

5. The Miracle Mop wasn’t her biggest seller.

Her company, Ingenious Designs, has also produced a range of organizational products for jewelry, travel, baked goods and more — many now sold on HSN. Think: the Memory Cloud Pillow and My Little Steamer. But the blockbuster hit is Huggable Hangers, with 700 million sold to date. (They’re HSN’s number one seller and also have our GH Seal.) The soft, slim hangers were inspired by the velvety hangers she saw in a couture store.

6. She keeps her ex-husband on the payroll.

Mangano keeps her large Italian-American family involved in the business — her three kids all work for her, too: Christie, 33, is senior VP of brand development, merchandising and marketing strategy, Bobby, 32, is a lawyer who oversees the company’s business development and global strategies, and Jackie, 30, is a model regularly featured in HSN style segments. But she also hired her ex husband as a sales executive very early on, mostly to keep him involved with their children. “We’re the best of friends,” says Joy. “I can deal with Tony because I know he’s a great friend, not a great husband.”

Joy Mangano with her children (from left) Christie, Jackie, and Bobby at the film’s December 13, 2015, NYC premiere. Taylor Hill/FilmMagicGetty Images

7. She managed to have time to join the PTA.

The mogul mom even helped get one of New York’s bike helmet laws passed. “I was also president of the PTA,” she says. “We were the most lucrative PTA in the state!”

8. Her house has a name.

It pays to be the queen of HSN, and Mangano lives in a veritable palace: The 40,000 French country mansion on Long Island, Swan Manor, Vogue reports. She called the home “warming and welcoming, because that’s the way I feel. I’ve stood up in front of America for 25 years and I wish I could bring everybody into my home that I have touched in my career. That would be an amazing thing.”

9. Joy’s favorite time to go on the air is midnight.

When she goes live in Tampa, Florida, at HSN’s headquarters, it’s typically at midnight — and she often tops $1 million in sales by 1 a.m. An onscreen tally clocks how many sets she’s sold, which Mangano admits is addictive. “I get chills thinking about it,” she told Vogue.

10. Many of her products hold the Good Housekeeping Seal.

First, it was the Miracle Mop, she explains. “From the start, I was focused on getting the Good Housekeeping Seal,” says Mangano. “I wanted to go on TV and tell everyone that the Miracle Mop had it. Now, I can proudly say 26 of my products have been approved!”

Joy Mangano and Good Housekeeping editor in chief Jane Francisco spoke at a Hearst Magazine event on October 27, 2015. Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Hearst

Joy Mangano just debuted the latest Miracle Mop on HSN. For more about Joy, check out Good Housekeeping’s February issue, on stands January 19 — and get a sneak peek HERE.

Asher Fogle Writer When she’s not hunting for compelling personal stories or justifying her love for dessert, Asher can likely be found watching early-2000s TV on Netflix with her husband.

The Real Person Behind Jennifer Lawrence’s Joy Is A Genius Inventor

Jennifer Lawrence will be playing the title character in David O. Russell’s Joy, out on Christmas. But the real person behind the story is perhaps more remarkable than Lawrence’s portrayal. A new Vogue article meets the real Joy Mangano and finds her ensconced in a major Long Island mansion. Magnano lives in Swan Manor, which she purchased with the proceeds from more-than-$3 billion in sales of her inventions, including $1 billion on HSN. Mangano, despite her massive success, still sells products on HSN. She’ll often go on air at midnight and sell $1 million worth of product. All indications are that she loves what she does: “I get chills thinking about it,” she tells Vogue. Mangano loved every part of the filmmaking process, but especially how Lawrence played her: “I’m convinced she was a Macbeth actress in the 1800s,” Mangano tells Vogue. “Some of the things she comes out with, you think she’s… this grande dame at 80 years old. She is an amazingly bright and talented young lady and a very funny and good soul.” The movie will bring new publicity, and Mangano fully plans to capitalize on that by introducing a 25th anniversary edition of the Miracle Mop. She also says becoming an inventor was much harder when she started out: “For me personally, there was no path,” she tells Vogue. “A mom and a woman way back then, to sit at a coffee table and say, ‘Yeah, I’m an inventor’? It was like, ‘Okay. She needs to go to therapy.’ ”

Joy Mangano, real-life inspiration of ‘Joy,’ has an empire based on extroversion, and mops

Just before midnight on a recent Saturday at the headquarters of HSN, the home-shopping pioneer Joy Mangano had a time-sensitive mission.

Mangano had just wound down an hour, in heels, of striding around a set, pitching a space-saving closet contraption she devised called Huggable Hangers. About 60 seconds later she was due to go live on another set several hundred yards away‎. Mangano is lithe, with long legs, but even they were no match for the labyrinthine corridors and stacks of blenders‎, skin-care products and ergonomic pillows that lined her path.

So an assistant handed Mangano a mini-box of coconut water and strapped her into a wheelchair. Then the assistant got behind the chair and, like an airline porter trying to get a late passenger onto a red-eye at Heathrow, took off, a half-dozen HSN and Mangano employees running behind them.


Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper lock eyes in the movie “Joy.”

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Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) comforts her daughter, Christy, in the movie “Joy.”

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Jennifer Lawrence in the movie “Joy.”

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Jennifer Lawrence in a dramatic scene from the movie “Joy.”

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From left, Isabella Rossellini, Robert De Niro, Virginia Madsen, Mateo Gomez, Jennifer Lawrence, with Gia Gadsby and Edgar Ramirez in the movie “Joy.”

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From left, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Edgar Ramirez in the movie “Joy.”

(Merie Weismiller Wallace / 20th Century Fox) 7/7

From left, Edgar Ramirez, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro are gleeful in a scene from the film “Joy.”

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The chair and its precious cargo arrived at its destination — a gleaming faux interior splashed with various stains, surfaces, buckets and liquids — with about 10 seconds to spare. Mangano climbed out of the chair.

“Now,” she said with perfect cool to an assistant holding a set of props, “where’s my mop?”

As millions of HSN devotees — and a growing number of fans of the new David O. Russell film “Joy” starring Jennifer Lawrence — are aware, Mangano, 59, is the inventor of the Miracle Mop and many other twists on familiar household products.

Mangano has an uplifting back story. About 25 years ago, as a single mother with three young children and no business experience, she expended a small investment and a lot of sweat equity to get the mop — a foldable, durable contraption that made soaking up floors easie‎r — out into the marketplace, eventually turning it into a sensation on QVC.


The effect on the retail world was significant. Before Mangano, home sh‎opping was at best a niche business; it certainly never inspired a mass following. As she came to create and endorse dozens of products, first on QVC and for the last 15 years on HSN, Mangano’s message to people around the country, toiling grimly to maintain their homes, was simple: There is someone looking out for them. They have been willing to pull out their credit card on her word ever since.

It is a history that has helped turn Mangano into a kind of retail folk hero — a Paul Bunyan of suburban basements — and earlier this week contributed to Lawrence earning a Golden Globe for lead actress in a comedy/musical. (The star thanked Mangano from the podium.) On Thursday, Lawrence landed an Oscar nomination for ‎lead actress.

On this night, Mangano was attempting an unlikely feat — she was relaunching the Miracle Mop. You wouldn’t think there’s much to improve about a mop. But in a quarter-century, a lot changes in fabric and plastics, and Mangano had spent the last two years making her product more efficient.

“This is so easy, you’re gonna wanna mop everything,” she said as the cameras rolled. She moved across the floor as an assistant set up a stain of apple juice, then performed a quick sweep and held her product business side up as she extolled its absorption capabilities. “Look at this. LOOK AT THIS,” she said. “This is mop heaven.”

While Mangano addressed a host and a group of models scattered around the set, she never took an eye, literally or otherwise, off the audience. She spoke extemporaneously and often in fragments, but the pitch had a structural simplicity: a) You have cleaning pain b) I feel that pain c) This mop I invented will ease that pain.

Just out of the camera’s eye, cue cards reminded her of the pitch talking points. “We need to be mopping again, not wiping!!,” was one directive, underlined in red, a point she sandwiched in so quickly you barely realized she made it, let alone had time to think about it too deeply.

Through all her enthusiasms — “I’m possessed about tech styles,” she said, using a favorite verb, and “Are you not crazy about this already?!” — Mangano never let the viewer forget the purpose of her appearance: “As I talk, you need to buy,” she silver-tongued in amid the demonstrations and touting of the mop’s reach and low pain quotient.


During the 90-minute live session and an additional 30-minute segment for another product that followed, she never stopped talking, moving, gesticulating and wringing. Even morning-show hosts get to throw to a reporter in the field once in a while; Mangano takes no breaks. A few hours of sleeping time aside, she ‎would repeat a version of the Miracle Mop pitch every other two-hour period for the next 24 hours.

Mangano lives on Long Island, N.Y., but she flies down to the Tampa-St. Petersburg area every month to do this for a set of products, even owning a home here so she could have a regular presence at HSN. The network has a number of on-air personalities with their own product lines. But as the on-air calls this night made clear, few enjoy the fan base that Mangano does — or have what executives describe as a kind of intuitive consumer empathy.

“Joy taps into a zeitgeist of what other people’s needs are, for things they don’t even realize they need,” said Mindy Grossman, the CEO of HSN. “On my Facebook page all my friends are buying mops. Half of my friends don’t even know how to use a mop.”

Hawking products on television would seem easy. Offer a flatteringly lighted set, some strategically applied hairspray and a few modest discounts, and watch the sales roll in.

But if you’re going to sell thousands of units in a matter of minutes, as many launches are designed to do, a more sophisticated tack is needed. HSN carefully calibrates its approach, from the promotions before a launch to the helpful/stressful countdown clock while it’s happening, so that you feel like the item blowing past you must be grabbed before it’s gone. Long before the term’s current vogue, the network capitalized on the concept of FOMO.

Every night at midnight a new special is launched — it’s a time of high viewing and easy spending — and Saturday night is the highest and easiest of all. It’s why Mangano and Grossman chose Saturday night to re-launch the Miracle Mop, its creator’s flagship invention.

That choice was also, incidentally, why a number of producers and Mangano were anxious. HSN has never sold the Miracle Mop, and Mangano hasn’t pitched any mop since the 1990s, let alone touted one as a major improvement. A nervous energy filled the HSN offices — would anyone buy this thing?

In a control room, Matt Hoke, Mangano’s longtime producer, jiggled his leg nervously from an office chair. In front of him was the usual bank of screens featuring various camera angles from the set. Above him hung a more specialized screen. It contained a mix of ever-changing numbers, superimposed on bar graphs. HSN, which is live every day of the year except Christmas, is a minute-by-minute business — fans of the movie will recall that a product falling flat is abandoned in as few as 60 seconds — and the number of phone and digital orders coming in tells producers right away whether a sales pitch is working or falling flat.


The scene offered a kind of snapshot of modern American capitalism — at once fiercely digital and granular but also rife with good old-fashioned showmanship. Mangano is a feminist symbol‎ to her fans too, and if identity-through-the-acquisition-of-household-cleaning-products suggests a certain paradox, Mangano breezes through it with a businesswoman’s self-empowerment, or at least a lightness of spirit.

Hoke shifted his gaze between the on-set cameras and the data screen, as he does every few minutes when Mangano is on the air. If he sees a number spike—as he did on this night when Mangano demonstrated the mop’s wide circumference without moving — he tells her to stay with the bit longer.

When the numbers aren’t ticking up fast enough — as was happening when a model waved the mop in the air to show how lightweight it was — he radioed in crisply and urgently to move to another gambit. (There are similarities in this to Bradley Cooper’s QVC executive from the movie. Cooper’s Neil Walker character also gives bits of directions based on the numbers — though Hoke is not out on the set, the ticker has grown considerably more nuanced since the early 1990s and phone operators are working out of their homes around the country, not at HSN.)

”You’re playing detective. The data tells a story about how a show is going,” Hoke said in an interview. “And you’re trying to take these little subplots and follow them to the demos so you see what’s connecting.”

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He added, “With Joy, she’s just as excited off air as she is on air, so you really just need the customer to see that.”

Hoke would know. Mangano is not just his on-air talent — she’s his mother-in-law. In the pitchwoman’s all-in-the-family business philosophy, Hoke began dating Christie Miranne, Mangano’s oldest daughter (and a character in the movie) after years of working with her mother. The couple are now married with a newborn.

Christie, incidentally, works with Mangano too, as a senior vice president of brand development, merchandising and marketing strategy at the latter’s company, Ingenious Designs, and as an all-around aide-de-camp. Christie, who shares many of Mangano’s intensely outgoing qualities, says that for as long as she could remember there was something different about her mother. “I call it the Joy effect. it’s just the ability to know what people want, the way some people can play the piano,” she said. “When I was young, friends would call the house and they’d ask to speak to her, not me. It was a little weird but I got used to it.”

Mangano’s middle child, son Bobby, 32, also works at the company, as an executive vice president of business strategy and development. He is making the rounds this night too, marveling at the camera angles and his mother’s perseverance. “You’ve never seen Joy in action?” he said enthusiastically to a reporter before the mop pitch begins. “Just watch.” Only Mangano’s youngest child, her daughter Jackie, 30, is not involved in the family business, though she’s also come to show her support.

Christie said the months leading up to the Miracle Mop relaunch have been nerve-wracking. “It’s been like the first day of school. I said to her, ‘But you know everyone. You’ve been to this school before. It’s all the same people.’ It doesn’t matter. Joy is still nervous.” (Christie refers to her mother in the third person.)

On air, Mangano showed no signs of concern, pitching and talking and moving, no break in sight. The next day, though, she admitted that for all the selling, the evening brought with it a certain poignancy.

“It feels like I’ve completed a circle, you know?” she said, taking a green-room breather between two-hour blocs. “When I stood there and said, for the first time in many years, ‘This is the only mop you’ll ever need to buy,’ it took me back to my days very long ago standing in front of 10 women at a flea market talking about something they’d never heard anyone talk about.”

Mangano, who is more voluble and demonstrative than the Lawrence character in the film, said she had been intrigued by the idea of a relaunch even before the movie was coming out. “It wasn’t monetary. It was about making something more amazing and groundbreaking than all the imitators,” she said. “And I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if it was the same price ($20) as 20 years ago? When I told my team, the whole room said, ‘Get it out of your brain.’ But I couldn’t get it out of my brain. I was possessed.”

Hoke says that this constant mental churning is a hallmark of life with Mangano.

“She’s always thinking about products, even when you think she’s not thinking about it,” he said. “You’ll wake up in the morning and see 10 emails from her at 4 in the morning, because she’s sitting awake thinking of ways to make bedposts on the bed better.”

Russell, too, came to see unusual aspects of Mangano’s personality when he met her. He and Mangano would talk for hours, every day for nearly a year, as he was prepping the movie, the director trying to get at the person under the extreme extroversion, trying to find out what kept her going when those outside roadblocks — and a few family-related ones — would intrude.

“Joy has been the most un-anxious presence in the room since childhood,” Russell said in an interview, citing a line about her from the movie. “Every family has someone like that. You know, that person who is an old soul. No matter their age, there’s something unflappable and tolerant and patient about them. Joy has that. She could persist no matter how many times people try to take something away.”

As for the big question — how much does Russell’s on-screen interpretation, in which he never mentions Mangano by name, mirror real life? — the answer is, well, complicated. “I severely inspired it,” Mangano says when asked about it, laughing as though she’s keeping a secret, but not very well.

Growing up, Mangano’s family did own a junkyard that she used as a base of operations, as the movie has it. And it was next door to a shooting range. Mangano also does have a father who’s a colorful and, er, gleefully frank figure, a la Robert De Niro’s character. She did face plenty of obstacles. She does not have a conniving half-sister. Other flourishes were invented for the film too.

And Tony Miranne, Mangano’s ex-husband (Edgar Ramirez in the film) did become a close friend and ally — if not as easily as a few minutes of multiplex time suggest. “They are the best divorced couple in the country,” Christie said. “It just took them a while to get there.”

Then there’s the ending. It involves a particular instance of cutthroat shrewdness, the kind that has audiences delighted, or critics eye-rolling, or a little bit of both. So is it true? “Like I said,” Mangano noted with a knowing laugh, “I severely inspired it.”

She offers some biographical insight.

“When I ‎was going into inventing, it wasn’t a dream the way someone goes into nursing or dancing,” she says. “Because there’s a path with that. It’s very different when you say, ‘I have an idea and it doesn’t exist.’ It’s a very different path. Let me tell you, looking back, you have no idea how hard it was.”

A moment later, though, the bravado softens and she flashes a rare instance of vulnerability. Her voice turns quieter, and for a moment the energy is lowered.

“I feel more pressure today. You’d think I’d feel it more then. I don’t. There are expectations. There’s a lot of pressure to make products better. I don’t feel freer.”

Back on the set, those headwinds are apparent. Mangano is in full pitch mode, describing the wide scourge of stains, and the salvation of the Miracle Mop.

At one point her mop grows too sticky, and Mangano, continuing the voice-over even as the control room quickly cuts away from her, slides to a spot where a production assistant hands her a new mop off the wall. She grabs the object with the quick, businesslike nonchalance of a hockey defenseman taking a new stick from the bench during a penalty kill.

As she does so, another production assistant slips behind the camera, carrying what appears to be a large plate full of various colored substances. They are indistinct at first, but then their identity becomes clear–they are for the various stains that Mangano will wipe up, a kind of Van Gogh’s palette of housecleaning.

Finally, the first two-hour bloc is over, at just past 2 a.m. Mangano keeps chatting with several HSN employees from behind a faux counter, even though the cameras have stopped rolling. Finally she starts walking away from the set. “How did I do?” she asks, not quite concealing her nervousness.

She would later find out she had sold 60,000 mops in those first two hours, an average of more than eight mops every second. It is a record for the network (she shattered her own previous mark). Her son, Bobby, rushes over. “You did so well it broke the counter. The computers couldn’t even keep up with the orders!” he said excitedly.

“That’s great!” Mangano said, looking at once relieved and like she expected it. Then an assistant motioned to a wheelchair. She turned to it, took a box of coconut water and sank into the chair one last time, ready to be wheeled, in heels, across the building to the control room, where she would receive a set of notes from Hoke. “I just really wanted this to be special,” she said. The idea, she added, made her possessed.

Twitter: @ZeitchikLAT

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Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano’s life story is coming to Broadway

Entrepreneur Joy Mangano’s life story is taking center stage.

The inventor of the self-wringing Miracle Mop — and more than $3 billion worth of successful products like Huggable Hangers and My Little Steamer — had her life story told on the big screen in the 2015 hit “Joy” starring Jennifer Lawrence. And now it’s getting the Broadway treatment: Tony-winning producer Ken Davenport, who produced hits like “Spring Awakening” and “Once on this Island,” acquired the musical rights and plans to bring it to the stage.

Before making it big, Mangano says she hit a million roadblocks before she could even dream of becoming a millionaire.She details her journey in her relatable new memoir “Inventing Joy.”

“I wasn’t wealthy in any form, I couldn’t even pay my electric bills, but I was able to keep putting one foot in front of the other,” Mangano tells Moneyish of struggles she faced before coming up with any profitable ideas.

‘Miracle Mop’ inventor Joy Mangano tells Moneyish how you can create your own billion-dollar product

— Moneyish (@Moneyish) October 2, 2017

“People would ask me, ‘what do you do?’ If I said I was an inventor they would say leave her over there at the cocktail party. In the time that I started, a mom didn’t become an inventor. It really is hard work.”

Her story of perseverance and defying the odds of being a woman in a male dominated industry played out on the big screen in the 2015 film “Joy” starring Jennifer Lawrence, who calls Mangano “a fearless woman, an incredible business force and an inspiration to everyone she meets” on the cover of her book. She is.

The 61-year-old inventor got divorced shortly after having her three kids. Having to build a new life for herself and her family was the first step towards creating her billion dollar business, and doing it all alone as a single mother is what gave Mangano the drive to invent again — something she did her whole life.

Joy Mangano, inventor of the Miracle Mop. (Credit: Joy).

“In my thirties I felt like I was losing control of my life, so I took charge and made some changes, and I rediscovered who I could be,” Mangano writes. “I grew up making and building things, but over the years I kind of lost touch with that side of myself.”

Mangano grew up as the shy, skinny Italian girl in the working class neighborhood of Dix Hills in Long Island. Whether she was 10 years old trying to find a solution for bandage booties for her dog, or 30 years later trying to sell decorative wreaths to Bloomingdale’s, the same thought always popped into her head: “There has to be a better way.”

Bloomingdale’s rejected her wreath pitch. And not long after, she thought up the idea for a self-wringing mop while she was cleaning up a spill from one of her kids while out on her father’s sailboat.

When asked what makes a good idea, Mangano says the mistake people make is thinking that it has to be monumental, like the airplane, the computer or an iPhone. But really it’s anything that serves a purpose.

“If it didn’t exist before, and there’s a need for it, and it’ll make somebody’s life better that’s it,” Mangano says simply. “Always know that product is king. Every detail about it, and everything you do you have to keep that at the forefront of everything.”

Mangano recruited her family and friends to help build the first 1,000 Miracle Mops in her father’s autobody shop. She launched her Miracle Mop on QVC in 1992 and sold more than 18,000 products during her first live appearance. Today she has more than 100 patents and trademarks for her inventions and has generated more than $3 billion in product sales globally.

“It doesn’t have to be rocketships. You have to have that empathy for whoever your customer or consumer is,” Mangano says. “If you tap into that you have a great chance for success.”

She’s known for her evergreen inventions that are practical and always useful, like the My Little Steamer, $19.99, a portable product that gets out wrinkles. She launched the huggable hanger on the Home Shopping Network, a slimmer, more efficient hanger that helps prevent closets from getting bulky and overstuffed. It became the best-selling product in the history of HSN. In the past 20 years, she’s sold more than 800 million and that number is expected to top a billion by the end of this year.

Mangano with her Huggable Hangers.

“When I told everybody I am making this velvety hanger, they looked at me and said ‘why?’ But a billion hangers later — I feel if you’re tapped into the consumer, and it makes a difference in their life in a positive way, it’s just fabulous.”

Mangano faced a lot of rejection, but being able to move on and not take “no” personally was something she had to get used to.

“There are no experts. You’re the expert of what it is you might do. If you tap into that you have a great chance for success,” she says.

And when it comes to profiting off your own ideas, Mangano says you better love what you’re doing.

“Find what ignites you. You have to be doing what you feel passionate about. It has to be organic,” she says.

“If the goal is to be a millionaire, you have to do it. People think there’s overnight success; there isn’t. Just keep moving forward. If you don’t you’ll never have that end result. Once you reach that success you work even harder.”

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Mom Inventors: The Miracle Products of Joy Mangano

mei 09, 2017

It’s almost Mother’s Day, everyone’s favorite mother-themed holiday! Mother’s Day is the time of the year when people celebrate the boundless love and deeds mothers provide to their children.

While we here at Quirky believe every mother should be celebrated, we’d like to also shine a light on the amazing mom inventors of the world!

For much of history, mom inventors were not largely publicized. Thankfully, this is not the case today.

According to the New York Times, “… the term “mom inventors” yields about 290,000 results on Google.” There are also numerous websites and publications dedicated to mom inventors, such as Mogul Mom.

In honor of Mother’s Day and all the mom inventors out there, we thought we’d celebrate the holiday by sharing the story of legendary mom inventor, Joy Mangano.

The Amazing Story of Mom Inventor, Joy Mangano

Joy Mangano is an icon in the world of mom inventors. You may recognize her name from the 2015’s David O. Russell biopic film, Joy, which depicted her rise to fame.

Mangano is an unstoppable inventing force. The majority of her products fall within the home products category and seek to make day-to-day life simpler and easier. To date, Mangano has sold over $3 billion of home products, including her most famous invention, the Miracle Mop. In addition to the Miracle Mop, she’s also invented the Huggable Hangers, My Little Steamer, Rolykit, Riatto Bakery Box, and Tuff Tech. All in all, Mangano holds over 100 patents for her inventions!

Let’s take a closer look at the product that put her on the map, the Miracle Mop.

Mom Inventor: The Story of the Miracle Mop

Before the Miracle Mop, Joy Mangano was a frustrated single-mother of three, armed with a BA in business administration from Pace University and an unrelenting passion for invention.

In 1990, at the age of 33, she invested her life-savings of $100,000 – much of which she received via loans from family and friends – into a business that produced 100 prototypes of her Miracle Mop invention. The Miracle Mop is a self-wringing mop that absorbs much more water and debris than previous products available, due to its loops of cotton used on the mop head.

Needless to say, Mangano had a lot riding on her invention’s success. With her funds in place, she launched the business from inside her father’s automobile workshop in Long Island, New York.

Despite her genius product and its demonstrable benefits, two years in, sales were sluggish and anxiety over funds high. Notwithstanding the initial setbacks, Mangano kept the faith. By 1992, she had succeeded in bringing the product to the then-new television network QVC, but she was disappointed in how the network pitched her product to consumers, feeling they failed to clearly advertise the mop’s benefits. The network had chosen to only display photographic stills of the mop to audiences and had not aired any live examples of the mop in use. Running out of options, Mangano made a deal with QVC that if they allowed her airtime to pitch her product directly to viewers, then she would personally take back all excess inventory if her gamble failed. The network, specifically executive Doug Briggs, believed in Mangano and gave her a shot on screen.

Mangano’s gamble worked. Due to her natural sales prowess and ability to demonstrate the Miracle Mop’s benefits to home-viewers, sales immediately skyrocketed, selling 18,000 mops in less than 30 minutes!

Mangano’s initial QVC-pitch has become the stuff of legend. She went on air without a script and pitched to audiences in an informal way, as if talking to a friend. Audience’s too felt displeasure with other mops on the market, specifically how they failed to fully absorb messes and quickly became dirty when in use. Her self-wringing design and more absorbent cotton loop head, instantly won over the hearts and minds of people around the world.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Mangano said, “People identify with me because I am a regular person with cleaning and household needs just like anybody else out there. I tell them that here’s a quality product and I’m going to show them what it does.”

Joy Mangano’s Life After The Miracle Mop

After a decade, Home Shopping Network purchased Mangano’s company, Ingenious Designs Inc. for an undisclosed amount of money. But given the fact that she’d sold over 10 million in Miracle Mops up to this point, one imagines it must have been a pretty penny.

Even after the sale, Mangano continued to appear on screen to sell her products. She even one-upped the Miracle Mop with her Huggable Hangers, which took the crown as QVC’s best-selling product ever.

Some of her most legendary sales moments include selling $2 million worth of product on the Home Shopping Network in under an hour and appearing on QVC at midnight only to sell over $1 million by 1 am – a feat she accomplished on more than one occasion.

Today, Mangano’s products are available in numerous retailers, in addition to television, such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy’s and Target.

Her business empire is currently worth over $1 billion. Not bad for a single-mother of three with a BA in Business. Her story is a perfect example of someone inventing solutions to real-life problems and sharing her solutions with the world. Her inventions sold so well because they provided actual benefit. That’s why she’s such a legendary mom inventor.

Happy Mother’s Day!


Welp, it looks like Jennifer Lawrence has bagged her next big role. “The Hunger Games” actress will star in the David O. Russell film “Joy,” where she’ll be playing Miracle Mop inventor, Joy Mangano.

Lawrence (who’s clearly becoming something of a muse to Russell—she won and Oscar and was nominated for one in “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle” respectively) will play the Long Island housewife-turned-mogul who created the Miracle Mop and Huggable Hangers.

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Russell will be directing the film from the screenplay written by “Bridesmaids” scribe Annie Mumolo, and—according to reports—it’s set for a Christmas Day 2015 release, clearly positioning itself as an Oscar contender.

Last month, J. Law appearance on “Live with Kelly and Michael” where she talked about the film and its origins.

“ recently texted me at, I think, four in the morning and was like, ‘I think I want to make a movie about the woman who invented the Mop. You want to do it?’ And I was like, ‘yeah,’” Lawrence recounted in her typical “no bod deal” manner.

She went on to add, “I could just imagine David looking at somebody mopping and being like, ‘Yeah, that’s my next screenplay.’

MORE: Jennifer Lawrence Named Sexiest Woman in the World by FHM

Joy Mangano started off her inventing career while volunteering at an animal hospital when she created a fluorescent flea collar to keep pets safe. After the idea was realeased by another company, she vowed to bring her own to the marketplace the next time she thought of one.

She came up with the idea for the miracle mop in 1990, and—after selling the mops locally—she brought them to the market. She now holds over 100 patents, appears regularly on HSN, and has made millions upon millions of dollars.