A Capricorn like me, but more importantly, the first black supermodel. Here is her autobio from Wikipedia:
Birth name Peggy Anne Freeman
Born January 1, 1945
Died May 17, 1979
Donyale Luna (1 January 1945 - 17 May 1979) was the first notable African American fashion model and the first black cover girl. She also appeared in several films, most notably as the title role in Salome.
Birth and childhood
She was born Peggy Anne Freeman in Detroit, Michigan. Her parents were Peggy and Nathaniel Freeman; her father, who was reportedly abusive, was murdered when she was 18. Luna's mother wanted her to become a nurse.
Despite the parentage stated on her birth certificate, she insisted that her biological father was a man with the surname Luna and that her mother was Mexican. According to the model, one of her grandmothers was reportedly an Irishwoman who married a black interior decorator. Whether any of this background is true is uncertain. In the mid 1960s, a relative described Luna as being "a very weird child, even from birth, living in a wonderland, a dream."
After being discovered by the photographer David McCabe, she moved from Detroit to New York City to pursue a modeling career. She became the first African American model to appear on the cover of Vogue (March 1966); earlier, she appeared on the cover of Harper's Bazaar (January 1965). For several years, she was under exclusive contract to the photographer Richard Avedon.
An article in Time magazine published on 1 April 1966, "The Luna Year," described the dramatically thin and tall (6' 2") model with the hallmark bright blue contact lenses and occasional blonde wig as "a new heavenly body who, because of her striking singularity, promises to remain on high for many a season. Donyale Luna, as she calls herself, is unquestionably the hottest model in Europe at the moment. She is only 20, a Negro, hails from Detroit, and is not to be missed."
In 1967, the mannequin manufacturer Adel Rootstein created a mannequin in Luna's image, a follow-up to her famous Twiggy mannequin of 1966.
Unprofessional behavior signalled the decline of Luna's career. As recalled by another black model who came to prominence toward the end of Luna's heyday, Beverly Johnson, Luna "doesn't wear shoes winter or summer. Ask her where she's from -- Mars? She went up and down the runways on her hands and knees. She didn't show up for bookings. She didn't have a hard time, she made it hard for herself."
During the late sixties and early seventies, Luna appeared in several films produced by Andy Warhol (including "Camp") and Federico Fellini ("Fellini Satyricon"). She also appeared in "The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus," the Otto Preminger comedy "Skidoo" (in which she was featured as the mistress of God, who was portrayed by Groucho Marx), and the British documentary "Tonite Let's All Make Love in London". Salvador Dalí considered her one of his favorite models.
Racial identity issues
According to Judy Stone, who wrote a profile of Luna for The New York Times in 1968, the model was "secretive, mysterious, contradictory, evasive, mercurial, and insistent upon her multiracial lineage -- exotic, chameleon strands of Mexican, American Indian, Chinese, Irish, and, last but least escapable, Negro."
Media interest in Luna's racial heritage seemed to cause her enormous discomfort and in interviews, she tended bristle when she was described as black or Negro. ("She's white, didn't you know?" a boyfriend told Stone.) When Stone asked her about whether her appearances in Hollywood films would benefit the cause of black actresses, Luna answered, "If it brings about more jobs for Mexicans, Chinese, Indians, Negroes, groovy. It could be good, it could be bad. I couldn't care less."
She was married briefly in the mid 1960s, to a man described as a gigolo. Later she was engaged to the Austrian actor Maximilian Schell, to an unnamed Danish photographer, and to Georg Willing, a German actor who appeared in European horror films and with the Living Theatre.
Appearance in Playboy
Luna appeared in a nude photo layout in the April 1975 issue of Playboy.
Drug use and death
In the late 1960s, in an interview, she expressed her fondness for LSD: "I think it's great. I learned that I like to live, I like to make love, I really do love somebody, I love flowers, I love the sky, I like bright colors, I like animals. [LSD] also showed me unhappy things -- that I was stubborn, selfish, unreasonable, mean, that I hurt other people."
Luna died in Rome, Italy, in a clinic, after a drug overdose.
Documentary about her life
Filmmaker Jennifer Poe is working on a documentary about Luna and Pat Hartley, who were the only black women to be part of the Warhol studio.
Stay gold, Ponyboy
Last edited by EvaLaDiva; 02-04-2007 at 03:13 PM.
Nice work Eva,I always had a eye on her but I have to agree with Sepia. Part of me kinda says 'Okay just think of the times',than the other feels it wasn't smart for her to be that way but she wasn't alone. Anyway,the reason I said that is ironically the only group that kept some memories/talk of her were the African-American community...without them many people wouldn't know/remember Donyale at all today. I think she could've been more revered had she been more wiser in that respect and also just general life choices.
eyes that hypnotize
OMIFAN9, you summed it up very nicely. It is impossible to know what Donyale went through during those times, so it doesn't seem right to judge her.
Did you know she had a daughter, Dream Cazzaniga, with the photographer Luigi Cazzaniga, who photographed her 1975 Playboy pictorial?
I saw a small photo of her on an Italian website...she is very pretty...looks like Donyale a little bit. Apparently, she is a famous actress, singer and dancer in Italy. I had no idea that she had any children at all until I researched it the other day.
I also found a photo of Donyale in 1959 on Frank Horvat's site. I put it up on my site...there's also a very interesting quote next to the photo about how Horvat wanted to use her in some major magazines, but wasn't able to because she was black.
Here's the link again - the Horvat pic is on the Photos of Donyale modeling page.
Stay gold, Ponyboy
Last edited by EvaLaDiva; 09-04-2007 at 10:37 AM.
The lure of Luna's magnetic personalityFrom: Call and Post (Cleveland) | Date: January 19, 2005
There was something about her. Something strange, but familiarly alluring. Who is she? Many wondered about the mysteriously beautiful soul sister casting an alluring gaze from this page two weeks ago (12/30/04). The woman is Donyale Luna -- the photo is almost 40 years old!
In 1965 Donyale Luna became the first Asiatic (Black) model featured in a "mainstream" American fashion magazine (Harper's Bazaar). In 1966, she became the first Black on the cover of Vogue Magazine. In the book "black beauty,' by ben arogundade, fellow model Pat Cleveland was quoted as saying about the exotic Luna, "She never wore shoes. Wherever she went she would arrive in bare feet. She was so beautiful that people would stop eating if they were in a restaurant if they saw her walking by."
I would suggest to anyone interested in some of the ways and means that we have arrived at our present ideologies concerning "black beauty," to give arogundade's book the once-over. It was in this book that I first came across the ethereal Luna (she was on page 79, for you numbers folk).
In addition to her extremely soulful look, made evident in this black-and-white head shot, the Detroit native is described as having the long, sleek form of the Masai and large exotic green eyes.
But even in black and white, Luna's picture is luminescent, and nothing short of amazing. It's the kind of thing that's hard to turn away from. It was as if her likeness had some sort of magnetism to it.
And why shouldn't her image have magnetic qualities? She is the scientific beginning of us all. The dark-skinned woman was our first attraction. And isn't the term attractive, as in "good-looking," actually a scientific term meaning to draw to, or pull towards?
At our very first encounter (my eyes/her picture) Donyale Luna's haunting gaze reached off of the page to test me. Even through the decades since the photo was taken, like Sheba to Solomon, she sought to "prove me with hard questions." The mystery of her gaze became a riddle. I was willing to be tested, and so I accepted her unspoken challenge. Sign and symbols were to be considered. Clues deciphered. Words to be analyzed -- First and foremost her name ... Luna!
"The Moon" in one of its most ancient forms is known as "Luna." The Moon is the very symbol of feminine magnetism. It moves tides, and its waxing and waning can make us extremely amorous, or fill us with so much emotion it can drive us mad (thus the term "Luna-tic").
The fact that "she never wore shoes" attests to the notion that she is grounded and earthy. I also checked her earrings (Sun, Earth and Moon inside a full circle of universal knowledge) -- she is in harmony with the planets. The contours of her lips betrayed the slightest resemblance to a completed Om (Aum) -- a mystic mantra said to be the sound of divine
thought, or of Universal motion.
Next clue: 1966, Luna revealed from her digs in Paris, "Back in Detroit I wasn't considered beautiful, but here I'm different." You can check into this issue if you like, but to those who know, Paris has always venerated the Black woman.
Outside of Egypt, it had been the largest grouping dedicated to Isis worship. The name "Paris" has been interpreted as "House of Isis." Is not the Eiffel Tower in Paris a symbolic recreation of an Egyptian obelisk? A symbol of her power of attraction? And didn't the same French dudes who helped make the Eiffel Tower send us Lady Liberty? Y'all might want to check those chains at her feet and the seven sun rays emanating from her crown.
Then there was the obvious kemetic (Egyptian) eye with her fingers forming the udjat glyph (the eye of Horus). And although it almost got past me, I did make out the 12 "gates" cut into the brow of the other eye that we can fully see. Yes, she is the "Univer-Soul" woman. She is the cosmic mother/daughter/wife.
Donyale Luna, you can stop looking at me like that. "We" may have forgotten for a moment in time, but it's all coming back now. You "are" the Moon. You are Isis. You are Sheba, Fatima, the Magdalene, the Virgin, Venus, Sothis and the mighty Aphrodite. You have 10,000 names. Your secrets are many, but I didn't need da Vinci to break this code!
A model, yes! -- The Black woman. A model that all others come from.
Article copyright King Media Enterprises, Inc.