Dovima was THE top fashion model of the 1950’s. She worked famed photographers, top designers, and appeared on the covers of every high-fashion, magazine. As a child, her mother most likely suffered from Münchausen syndrome by proxy. Dovima had rheumatic fever and was sick for almost a year, but her mother kept her as an invalid and a recluse for, 7 years. During this time, Dovima fell deep inside her imagination. The only contact with children her age, were with other invalids and her tutor. Not surprisingly, her first marriage was to the upstairs, neighbor, in 1945 at age 18. In 1949, Doe (her nickname) ventured out one day to a Manhattan Automat and was discovered by a Vogue employee asking, “Have you ever modeled?”..Dovima had distinct features, dark hair, and a waist you could put your hand around!! The woman took Doe to the Vogue offices, on the spot! They did test shots with her, that night and the next day, Irving Penn (the famous Vogue, photographer!) came in to do a full, photo-shoot with, Dovima. We can safely say, Doe was an actual, overnight sensation! Jerry Ford immediately signed her, with The Ford modeling agency, and in 1950 Dovima appeared on her first of many, Vogue magazine covers and soon became the highest-paid model, of her time. Richard Avedon was rising to the top of the photography world, when Dovima became his muse. They became very close, Doe describes them as “mental Siamese twins”, she knew what he wanted before he said it. During 1955, while in Paris with Richard Avedon, she posed at the Cirque Medrano for “Dovima with Elephants”, a photograph that will become world famous. (In 2010, after hanging in Avedon’s studio for 30 years, the print was auctioned to the house of Christian Dior for .1 million dollars!). The two transformed the world of fashion and created what we know as ’50’s Haute Couture. Christian Dior called it, “The New Look”. But, Doe was losing her fragile, identity. She became plastic, a photograph, & everywhere she went, even on a beach, she was in full-makeup and designer wear. She became labeled as “eccentric”. In 1957, “Funny Face” (with Audrey Hepburn) was released, she was given a role. The movie is based on Avedon’s career (Fred Astaire’s movie name is “Dick Avery”..hmm) Hepburn & Doe became good friends, during filming. Dovima and her upstairs hubby divorced, in the late ’50’s. Doe married Alan Murray (an immigration officer) Doe had a daughter, Alison. Alan Murray is only remembered for his boundless, anger. He would beat Dovima so badly, she couldn’t go to work. Doe left Murray, took Alison, and moved to L.A. Murray, in cad-fashion, called the Feds, to report his daughter, kidnapped. Tragically, they believed Murray! Alison was taken from Doe’s arms and never saw her mother, again. How an abusive husband could get full-custody, I’ll never understand..but hey, it was the ’50’s!! Even though Doe’s scenes in Funny Face were few, she was wonderful & the film, a hit. Dovima enrolled in Strasberg’s Actor Studio, to learn the trade. She appeared in several TV shows including, Bewitched. But, Doe never caught on as an actor. She announced her retirement from modeling in 1959. Of retiring, Dovima said, “I didn’t want to wait until the camera turned cruel.” Doe hadn’t saved any money…The late ’60’s and early ’70’s she found work promoting cosmetic and clothing lines, but became lonely. She moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. to be near her parents. She found work hosting at restaurants & met (her one true love) Capt.West Hollingsworth. They spent over a decade together. When the Captain died, in 1986, it was devastating and she never really recovered. The famous beauty passed away from liver cancer in, 1990. “Dovima with Elephants”, is arguably the most famous, fashion photo, ever. Doe gave the 1950’s class and sophistication, “The New Look” that Audrey Hepburm epitomizes in, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. So, dry your eyes and break out that vintage Dior! Thank you, Ms. Dovima, for your fabulous fashion!


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