| Modeling in the Sixties and Seventies (Linda Morand et al - 2006 to 2008)
The text of this section was taken from the message boards of two MSN Groups sites that no longer exist: The First Colleen Corby Fan Community and MiniMadMod60s.
The models commenting here all had their careers during the Sixties or Seventies. They are: Linda Morand (who created MiniMadMod60s), Terri Smith and Joan Thompson.
(All of the photos shown here are from miniMadMOD60s.)
Getting into the Business
Just getting into Ford was a major feat. I went there 3 times. They had a little window of opportunity between 10 and 10:30 on a weekday morning, one day a week. The place was overflowing with girls. Most never got past the receptionist. I got in to see Sunny Harnett. She said I was pretty but I should come back with pictures. Three months later I tried again. Same thing. Finally on my third try Eileen took me, raving about my "formula face" and where had I been all this time, and made me cut my hair. But in the meantime hundreds and hundreds were turned away. And that does not even count the hundreds of photos that were sent in every week.
Sunny ushered me into Eileen's office. She was an attractive woman with a genial open face and a kind of sporty look. Eileen Ford was smiling as she offered me her hand and gestured for me to sit in a chair opposite her. She was very self-confident, authoritative yet friendly.
Eileen looked me over with her piercing dark eyes.
“You've got the perfect wide-eyed gamine look. You have what I like to call the 'formula face', a face you just cannot get a bad picture of, in any light at any angle.” My heart was thumping in my chest.
“And she's got a show stopping smile!", Sunny said, as I stood there grinning ear to ear. I sensed that Sunny was pulling for me.
“That's a combination we look for", Eileen said as she reached into her antique desk's drawer for a contract.
I could not believe this was happening. So recently, I had not even been allowed to model in the local department store Junior Board fashion show, and here I was at Ford. Was Eileen herself saying I was a candidate for top model status, including covers, cosmetic ads and national advertising campaigns?
“But looks alone won't make you a top model”, Eileen was saying. “It is still going to take a lot of work. You will need to eat right and maintain your weight."
“Oh, I'm naturally thin", I interrupted, suddenly grateful for the deformity that had become so valuable. "It goes without saying that you have to be extremely punctual. Do you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning?” "No, no", I assured her, "I get up early every day." "I can see by your portfolio that you have the persistence and talent needed to succeed in this business. Your booker will be Rusty."
She introduced me to a tall, clean cut lady with a cloud of curly red hair. She was one of the best bookers in the business.
She started pulling pictures out of my book. Some of my favorites were tossed away. She seemed to like the beauty and fashion shots by Art Schiffer.
“But most of these pictures will have to go. I have some very good test photographers that will take some more editorial shots. We will make some testing go-sees for you.” Go-see was "modelese" for audition. Nowadays they call them castings.
"You will need to wear a business suit, a hat and white gloves, stockings and medium heel shoes on your go-sees.” This was just before Twiggy arrived from LONDON and the Mod moment happened that sent the fashion world spinning. We were all running around with lobbed off skirts and chopped off hair. Forget hats and little white gloves, go-go boots were nice, those little short white flat heeled boots that we wore with everything.
It was not like today. There was no internet, no books. If you did not know someone in the business you had to get yourself an agency, pictures, and a make-over all by yourself. It helped to have understanding parents. After meeting Eileen and Jerry Ford and seeing how their business was run, parents had no problem entrusting their young, college-age daughters to their care.
Terri Smith: It started as a whim. I lived on Long Island and my mom was browsing through Seventeen and said to herself (as I am sure EVERY mother has said) "If they can do this, Theresa can do this." She called me over and asked me (this is the absolute truth), "Do you want to be a model?" and of course I said "Sure!" My parents then called Fords, and they were told to bring me in. My dad drove me in and as it happened Eileen's dad had just died and she was in Florida for his funeral, but I was told to come back the next week to meet Eileen. I assumed it was going to be another interview, but when I returned the following week she immediately started to talk to me about the responsibility I was taking on and what to expect (I was 15) and to lose weight. I was then sent on go sees and testing. That was the start.
The Modeling Experience
Linda Morand: I much preferred modeling for magazines and other photo shoots. I did not like runway very much. It was extremely hectic and not that well paid in those days. I remember my first show with Pierre Cardin. He was a crazed maniac back stage. Of course each outfit was carefully coordinated before the show with the right accessories, hats and shoes. But Pierre would station himself right at the entrance to the runway. Just before we would step out he would inspect us. He often impulsively changed a hat. For one outfit he jammed a "Space Helmut" hat on me and shoved me out. But my ears were bent down, because the hat was too small. Oww! It hurt like heck but I had no choice but to walk the entire runway in agony! The cameras were flashing. I actually found the picture on the Internet.
I had a chance to work with David Bailey in Paris in the fall of 1967, when I was 19. I had been booked with Bert Stern for American Vogue, but the shoot was cancelled at the last minute. I was so sad. I was doing the runway shows for Cardin and Patou during the day. At the last minute the agency, Paris Planning, called and said I was booked for English Vogue with Bailey that night. The other models were Brigitte Baur and Jean Shrimpton. I was still pretty new, so I was thrilled to meet these two icons. Not only that, but Catherine Deneuve was in the studio. Deneuve, who was Baileys wife or girlfriend at the time, was kind of cold. He had the camera on a tripod and she sat beside him in a director's chair. I was amazed to see that she had 1/2 inch black roots in her hair. Other than that she was gorgeous. Jean Shrimpton was even prettier in real life, but she did have bags under her eyes. She always had them, but they could be disguised with lighting. Bailey did not let it faze him that he had his current lover and his ex-girlfriend in the studio. He was very flirty, very cocky in a charming way. He really came on, saying things like "Imagine your mouth is filled with fresh succulent strawberries." Later he shot me for the cover of Glamour but it was not used. Darn! But that's the way it is in modeling. After a while you just take it for granted, do your job and go home. Most of us did not even buy the magazines. Everything was shot three months in advance so by the time the pictures came out, we were usually in another country. If it wasn't for friends and relatives I would not have anything. My book was stolen.
Models traveled solo, most of the time, only meeting the other models in studios or at the agency from time to time.
Anyway back to my debut in the high fashion modeling world. So now everything changed for me. Modeling was no longer a constant daily grind of pavement pounding and knocking on doors of photographers, trying to get free pictures without being asked to give anything away. Most of the photographers were serious but there were some who just had casting calls to meet hungry, pretty girls who were not yet hardened by the big city. If you had a good agent you were mostly shielded from this sort of photographer. No more would I have to be peeped at by Michael Chassid or chased around the studio by the notorious Phil Pegler. I was on to a better class of model hounds.
Colleen [Corby] was booked day after day at Simplicity Patterns. It was great work. The clothes were made on her, for which she was paid a fitting fee, $30 per half hour. Then the actual photo shoot at $60 per hour. That's like $300 an hour nowadays.
I did a lot of catalog work. The clothes were indeed made on the models and they did not get to keep them. At least I never asked for any because I hated them. The patterns were usually a season or two behind what the models were wearing. The models always wore things before the general public found out about the styles. Boy, some of those catalog clothes were really awful! Do you see those pantsuits that Pia Buggert had to wear? They look like clown outfits! Thank goodness nowadays, inexpensive clothing is still pretty cute. Did you know that the catalogs re-booked the models more often if the clothes they wore sold a lot. The bigger models, like Colleen, would get first pick. As the new girl, Pia got stuck with the crummy designs. It was much worse in Europe. The clothes were hideous!
We were delighted to get bookings from catalog companies. The money was great! I remember posing for McCalls and Simplicity when my rate was $60 an hour and thinking "I am getting a dollar a minute!" Models today will laugh at those rates but that is still pretty good money. Back then it was like getting maybe $5.00 or $10.00 a minute. I was not into modeling for the glamour or the "glory". I was in it for the money. It was the best paying job available to a young woman at the time. The interesting editorial photos were fun, but not well paid. Their value was the fact that if the agency said, "She is coming out in Vogue, or Glamour, the clients would say "I want her!".
Terri Smith: I remember going to Melvin Sokolsky's (were there brothers?) and seeing a head shot of Barbara Bach (whom I had worked with) on his board over his desk.
And the time Ali McGraw was my dresser there (before she became Ali McGraw); sitting outside a studio with Dayle Haddon waiting for the time to pass. It was just hard work. I have memories which have to do with the times: getting my first Beatles album and running up to a photographer's studio (I cannot remember who) to listen to it over the huge sound system they always had; switching books while waiting to go into a go-see and seeing stills of a "new" director, Woody Allen, he was in the movie Bananas; introducing myself to Colleen Corby on W.57th, which was a thrill to me (never worked with her).
Working was always a thrill - always. The constant battle of keeping my weight down. (I was always between 108-118 at 5'6''.) Never got it stabilized!! Did anyone else have a battle with it??
I had to change schools because I was missing too many days in public; never went to a prom, a football game and had very few friends from home. I was never asked out at home - not once! Years later I found out that the boys in my old school were too intimidated.
No, those weren't my accessories. That was just a ribbon in my hair. There was always a stash of stuff like that at the studios and sometimes the dresser would go thru and find things. The shoes were always part of the outfit, however. I have memories of going into the dressing room and looking through the other outfits to see who was booked after me during the day (usually a catalog booking or a magazine).
In regards to beaches and travel and work,
I remember one trip to Montego Bay, Jamaica for the Sears catalog. Molly Corby and I were flown down by ourselves and met the group there.
Quite honestly, it was very uncomfortable. It was off season and the sun was fierce. Our hotel room was on ground level so we had cockroaches (and do I remember a snake?!) running through our room that kept us calling the manager to get rid of them. In my memory they were the size of small cats! Ich! We were up on chairs as the maid ran through the room chasing them out. Molly and I really got along great. The room was not the tight secure rooms of today; very tropical as I recall, so the bugs didn't have any trouble getting in!
We shot in a beautiful home (could it have been Rose Hall?? No idea.) very high up a mountain overlooking the bay; so beautiful. The vultures flew close to us - it was the first time I saw one in the wild (boy, are they ugly).
For us, it was fly us in, shoot, fly us out. We didn't have the time or energy (after the day of shooting) to do anything. We did try one evening to go horseback riding but that didn't pan out.
I do have two candid shots of Molly and I at the airport which I will try to scan (new MacPro!) and share. It was a marvelous time to work.
The Look and the Photograph
Linda Morand: I was about 115 lbs. Like Twiggy but taller. I like being thin, but I thought I was too thin. But that's what they wanted. Still do. I am now a size 6/8 and too big to do editorial. They still want size 4.
In those days, there was very little retouching. It had to be done by hand on the negative, so it was very tedious, difficult and expensive. Not like Photoshop which they use today. Someone sent me an email with a link to how they retouch the heck out of the girls today. In the Sixties, we looked like we did in the pictures, but of course we did have great make-up, clothes and lighting. Of course we all wore false eyelashes. Mine were made out of mink. They sold them in all the drugstores. They were not expensive at all.
Art Schiffer, who was a great beauty photographer, took the shot of me on the cover of my comp card and one inside. He used a dreamy grainy effect which he got by printing through a screen, similar to “adding noise” in Photoshop. So many of the things the modern day computers can do were invented by these early experiments.
Terri Smith: I wanted to bring up the subject regarding what we had to look like then as opposed to the look of fashion models today. There were two types of models (I speak of photographic, not runway) back in the '60s. One was high fashion (with the crossovers - you all know who you are!!! LOL!) and jr models. Jr models were 5'6'' to 5'8'', generally curvy and pert (just look at a Seventeen magazine from that era). Then the high fashion models were generally over 5'8'', extremely slim, and could pull off the exotic look for Vogue and the like (ala Verushka). Twiggy was 5'6'' and Colleen Corby was 5'7''. AND we were (for the most part) natural. Well, I guess my point is that what fashion asks of people today has become more extreme and unattainable - unnatural if you will.
The Sixties vs. The Seventies
Linda Morand: Most of us were "retired" by the early '70s, or at least not in the pages and on the covers of magazines. We were lucky. I don't know if you read Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women, by Michael Gross. It is a fascinating look at the modeling business throughout history. He interviewed me for about four hours and I was able to give him some idea of what modeling was like from 1964 - 1974. Of course, he plays up the sensational side, the occasional drug overdose or suicide, but these things were rare until the mid-'70s when literally all hell broke loose. There was no more chic, elegant Castel. Oh it was there, but everybody went to Club Sept, a tiny, gay spot where Jerry Hall and Grace Jones danced and played. Jerry managed to stay above most of the mess, but the modeling business was being taken over by studs who were interested in possessing the models, sleeping with them and fixing up their wealthy friends with the new crop just in town. Men like Claude Haddad, John Casablancas and Gerald Marie gained power. Eileen Ford and Wilhelmina tried to keep the standards up, but more and more girls were getting involved with these playboy-run agencies and modeling started to become as difficult to navigate as the movie industry and the music business. Models did not get the respect that they got before 1969-70. I mean who can really respect young ladies who tear off their clothes and run naked through the agency as one famous Elite girl used to do? I remember returning to New York in 1971 and making the rounds of the studios. The photographers were openly smoking pot during the day and offering it to the girls. Many girls did not get past the third appointment of the day and just stayed on to party and "test" with the photographers. These were the days of the famous "Studio 54". I am not judging. If people want to have fun, fine. I am just saying that the door was opening to more dangerous lifestyles. We all know how it finally ended up with the advent of Heroin Chic and the death of poor Gia (who was thrown out of Ford, incidentally).
When Colleen Corby and the models in this group were on top it was before John Casablancas took a "sleepy backwater business run by a dowager empress and turned it into Hollywood" (Peggy Mellon, Vogue). Eileen Ford ran her agency like a finishing school and we were all expected to behave like ladies and only date gentleman. Of course all that ended with the British Invasion and miniskirts. The Jackie Kennedy look was out, the Twiggy Look was in. What a Pandora's Box we opened.
I don't see why you think it is weird that people talk about Colleen on the web. She was a HUGE supermodel and a big celebrity. She was as big as any supermodel today, like Elle MacPherson or Amber Valletta. The difference is that in those days models did not pose in bathing suits for Sports Illustrated or in lingerie for Victoria's Secret. Their fans were mostly teenage girls, not men. John Casablancas changed the whole scene in the mid '70s when he opened Elite and hired PR people to make his models into household names.
I remember it [modeling lingerie] being frowned upon in the mid-Sixties and that for a Ford model or a Wilhelmina model or a Stewart model to do lingerie the fee was $500 an hour. That was five times the usual rate.
Later, with the Jane Hitchcocks and Bonnie Lysohirs, the photographer/boyfriends and gay stylists got into the act and a model became part of a team. We were the loners, the adventuresses. They could party all night and then work in the morning with a team to get them there and make them look good. We had to do it by ourselves - hair, make-up, styling, getting to the different locations in the different countries.
What I am seeing is that most of the models of our time kind of drifted away around '70; too many new girls and the European photographer/boyfriends pushing their own girlfriends. All my friends, Ulla, Sarah Vane, Missy Prowell, Susan Brainard, etc just disappeared around '69 -'70. Look at that whole Seventeen gang: Diane Conlon, Sally Gates, Kathy Jackson, Rita Egan, Stephani Cook, Martha Branch, Kay Campbell, Holly Forsman, etc. All unheard of ever again. Poof, gone! Only a few made comebacks - Dayle Haddon, Lauren Hutton, etc, besides the ones who tackled Hollywood and gained a foothold there.
Joan Thompson: I remember that some of the editorial work (fashion magazines), when they used your name it was considered reportage so they did not pay you. Although it was free advertising, it was nice to get paid for your time as well.
Linda Morand: In the early to mid Sixties, it was rare for a model to have her name mentioned. The ones who did, like Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, Colleen Corby and Terry Reno, became Pop Personalities who received tons of fan mail. Colleen and Terry wrote advice columns on everything from dating to beauty tips, and millions of teenagers, looking for role models, ate it up. Everyone wanted to be like these well brought up and beautiful young ladies. Terry was asked to write a book about herself and her career, as well as her health and beauty advice and life philosophy. Entitled The Model, it was great success.
One thing you may not realize is just how DIFFICULT it was to get into a magazine at all. There were literally hundreds of girls in New York that were cute enough to work for them but there were just so many slots. It was like winning the lottery to get in. I went up to Seventeen and although 'Teen loved me immediately, Seventeen did not give me a second glance. For someone to get into the magazine and then get a COVER was practically unheard of. If you were on the cover you were well known, at least to the readership. They made it their business to find out who the model was. Remember, I was observing from the outside in '64 and '65. I related to the models as a real girl, not a member of the business. We used to sit around and point out our favorites. It is hard to realize, once you have become a successful model. It all becomes so normal. Just to get with a good agency was like winning the lottery. And just getting to work for Seventeen was a very rare privilege. And to get on a cover or two! That was almost impossible from a statistical point of view. So I give credit to the girls who made it far enough to get into the magazines and national ads. It does not matter who had the most. I could have been much bigger than I was if I chose to climb the ladder too. Still, I think that I, and the rest of us, deserve some kind of recognition for what we DID accomplish in the hyper-competitive modeling world. We grabbed the brass ring and held on for however long we did. In my opinion it was not about who was the best. Who WAS the best? No one was, they all were. It is not about the media term "supermodel". Eileen defined the top of the top in "The Divine Dozen" but that was all about Vogue, another very very difficult citadel to conquer; it all depended on one woman's whim. No one could make Diana Vreeland pick a model. Not even Eileen. She either loved you or you were just a piece of lint on the carpet. How many of the hundreds and hundreds of models ever got into Vogue? Or Seventeen? Or Glamour or Mademoiselle? These were Supermodels, girls who rose above the teeming hoards of novices and wannabees as well as good professional models, and had the combination of looks, style, brains, tenacity and class that it took to be responsible for thousands of dollars that were riding on their showing up on time looking good and ready to do their job.
It must have taken an enormous amount of planning to get together that many of the top models [referring to a photo] (we called them top models then not supermodels, but it meant the same thing). These girls were booked months in advance. As you may know, at any given time in 1966 there were over 500 legitimate fashion models registered with licensed modeling agencies in New York. I believe Ford represented over 200. Everyone who was listed on the Ford head sheet had a list under her picture of what publications she could be seen in and on what page. There was no one who did not have a long list or else she would be dropped in a process Eileen Ford used to call "pruning the dead wood". I started modeling in late 1965 but I was virtually unheard of until April of 1966 when I started to work for Mademoiselle. Word got out in the industry and I was starting to book accounts like Jonathan Logan, Kodel, Saks Fifth Avenue, etc. But the fashion readership had never seen a picture of me until June 1966 when I came out on the cover of 'Teen magazine. 'Teen also launched Cheryl Tiegs, Kelly Harmon, Christina Ferrare and Kathy Davis. I was still in the Junior class compared to the girls in this picture, which were the Senior class. Most of them had been established for a few years and were the cream of the crop, (with many notable omissions). They are a few of the best but by no means all of the best, or the "Top-Notchers" as Eileen used to say. Ulla Bomser, Wallis Franken, Kathy Carpenter, Dayle Haddon and other newcomers in late '65 early '66 were also in the junior class. Only two junior type models are shown, Holly Forsman and Hellevi Keko are shown. Other notable missing models are Colleen Corby and Terry Reno, both Seventeen supermodels. Terry Reno had made the transition into a more sophisticated look when she started to appear in Glamour and Mademoiselle and spent months at a time modeling and traveling throughout Europe. It is possible that they were either already booked or out of the country at the time of the shoot. So in answer to your question, I was not yet eligible for this photo when it was planned for and booked in 1966.