Dorian Leigh, born Dorian Leigh Parker (she changed her name out of respect for her parents who were apalled that she worked at all, let alone as a model), was arguably the very first supermodel. Born in 1919, her modeling career started in 1944 when Dorian, who has a degree in mechanical engineering, quit her job as a chief draftsman at Eastern Aircraft, where she had been working during the war, and stepped into the office of one of the top agencies at the time - Harry Conover, who instantly set up a meeting for Dorian with Diana Vreeland and renouned photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe. They booked her for a Bazaar sitting the next day - and Vreeland, true to form, requested that Dorian: 'Do not - do not do anything to those eyebrows!'
From that day Dorian became an overnight sensation and became a favourite model for Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Helmut Newton and Milton Greene. Her carreer with Vogue ended when she developed a disagreement with photographer Karen Radkai. That didn't stop Dorian from having a modeling career spanning two decades. She was a favourite model for Bazaar (and Vogue, as mentioned up to a point) and she was the face of Revlon for a number of years.
Dorian had a very complicated personal life. She gave birth to at least five children (TL, Marsha, Young, Kim and Miranda) fathered by four different men, and she admits to a lifestyle that was at times, and at the time, considered promiscuous. TL and Marsha were fathered by her first husband, Marshall Powell Hawkins, Young by her second husband Roger while Kim was born as a result of a passionate affair Dorian had with Fon, Marquis de Portago. Miranda, Dorian's youngest child, was born in 1959 during Dorian's marriage to Serge Bordat (although she was not his child).
Dorian, blessed with an awe inspiring figure and an incredibly youthful appearance, modeled well into her 40s but during the latter years of this period she started a modeling agency in Paris. This agency was successful for a number of years, but, unfortunately, the beginning of the end came in the late 60s, when Dorian was no longer modeling and her husband, Iddo, half her age, robbed her blind (unbeknownst to Dorian he had some unhealthy habits). In 1973 Dorian folded her business, had a religious epiphany and started on her third career as a chef.
In 1977 her fourth son, Kim, committed suicide when he, during an episode of withdrawal, jumped out the window of his apartment in NY. Four years later Dorian wrote a book entitled "The girl who had everything, the story of the fire and ice girl".
Dorian was the oldest daughter in a large family - one of her younger sisters was the late supermodel Suzy Parker.
This information was extracted and summarized by me from Dorian's own words in "The girl who had everything - the story of the fire and ice girl" - a book she dedicates to her son Kim. I can highly recommend it.
Associated Press - July 9, 2008 6:55 PM ET
WASHINGTON (AP) - Dorian Leigh, an early supermodel who made Revlon's 1950s "Fire and Ice" cosmetics line famous, has died at age 91.
Leigh died Monday at a nursing home in Falls Church, Virginia. That's according to her son, T.L. Hawkins of McLean, Virginia.
The curvy brunette appeared on the cover of numerous magazines, including Look, McCall's and Harper's Bazaar, and worked with renowned photographers.
After modeling, she started her own modeling agency, opened a restaurant in France and published cookbooks.
Hawkins says his mother was a "diva" with an aura.