Suzy Parker 1958
Suzy Parker (October 28, 1932 – May 3, 2003) was an American model and actress active from 1947 into the early 1960s. Her modeling career reached its zenith during the 1950s when she appeared on the cover of dozens of magazines, advertisements, and in movie and television roles.
She appeared in several Revlon advertisements, but she also appeared in advertisements for many other cosmetic companies as well, as no model had an exclusive make-up contract until Lauren Hutton (for Revlon and Revlon’s Ultima) and Karen Graham (Estée Lauder) signed them in the early 1970s. She was the first model to earn $100,000 per year and the only fashion model to have a Beatles song named after her, even if an unreleased one.
Three of the Parker sisters were very tall, standing between 5’10” and 6’1″. Dorian was the sole exception, standing 5’5″. In 1944, Dorian was writing advertising copy when a co-worker encouraged Dorian to go to the Conover Modeling Agency to try modeling.
One of Dorian’s first advertisements was for Revlon. Charles Revson (who later wanted to marry her) hired her for “Fatal Apple,” one of Revlon’s first all-color, nationwide ads. Dorian was one of the top models in the world, arguably referred to as the “world’s first supermodel” (along with Lisa Fonssagrives). When Parker was about age 15, Dorian telephoned The Ford Modeling Agency and told Eileen and Jerry Ford that she would sign on with them if they also took her younger sister, sight unseen. Anxious to represent Dorian, they agreed. Expecting to meet a similarly petite, extremely thin, flawless, pale-faced, electric blue-eyed, raven-haired younger version of Dorian, they were shocked to meet Suzy for the first time at a restaurant. At the meeting, the Fords said, “Oh, my God!” Parker was already 5’10”, big-boned, and had carrot red hair, pale-green eyes, and freckles. She later became more famous than Dorian.
Parker’s photo appeared in Life magazine at age 15. That same year, one of her first magazine advertisements was for DeRosa Jewelry. Although she still lived with her parents in Florida, she stayed in New York City with Dorian when she had modeling assignments there. Dorian introduced Suzy to her fashion-photographer friends, Irving Penn, Horst P. Horst, John Rawlings, and a young Richard Avedon. Suzy became Avedon’s muse. At age 61, she said, “The only joy I ever got out of modeling was working with Dick Avedon
Parker became the so-called signature face of the Coco Chanel brand. Chanel herself became a close confidante, giving Parker advice on men and money as well as creating numerous Chanel outfits for her. She was the first model to earn $200 per hour and $100,000 per year. Vogue declared her one of the faces of the confident, post-war American woman. She worked also non-stop for Vogue, Revlon, Hertz, Westinghouse, Max Factor, Bliss, DuPont, Simplicity, Smirnoff, and Ronson shavers, to name a few. She also was on the covers of about 70 magazines around the world, including Vogue, Elle, Life, Look, Redbook, Paris Match and McCall’s.
Avedon suggested Parker for the movie Funny Face (1957). Fred Astaire’s role was based on Avedon, whose photos appeared in the movie. Suzy appeared in the movie for only two minutes and she looked breathtakingly beautiful on the big screen.
After marrying her third husband, Bradford Dillman, in 1963, she mostly retired from modeling and acting to live a quiet life in Montecito, California, with her family.
She passed away in 2003 at age 70 surrounded by her loving family. One of her children, a friend of mine has just published a book dedicated to Suzy Parker called REFLECTIONS THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Nobel