Friday, November 13, 2009

All about Suzy

When I was little, my mom used to tell me that I was named after the model Suzy Parker. I had no idea who she was at the time, but my mom knew all about her telling me how beautiful and famous she was. Apparently she was one of the busiest and well known models from the late 40's to the early 60's. She had an elegant and sophisticated look that captured the styles from that era.

Suzy was the first model to earn $100,000 per year, and the only model to have a Beatles song named after her, even if an unreleased one. Suzy's photo appeared in Life magazine at age 15. One of her first magazine advertisements was also at 15 for DeRosa Jewelry. Although she still lived with her parents in Florida, she stayed in New York City with her sister Dorian (also a model) 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 "signature face" of Coco Chanel. Coco became a close confidante, giving her advice when it came to 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.
Avedon suggested Suzy for the movie Funny Face (1957). Fred Astaire's role was based on Avedon, whose photos appeared in the movie. Audrey Hepburn's role was inspired by Suzy, just as Hepburn's role in Breakfast at Tiffany's was supposedly based on her sister Dorian's promiscuous lifestyle. Suzy appeared in the movie for only about two minutes.
Her other credits included Kiss Them for Me opposite Cary Grant (1957), The Best of Everything (1959), Ten North Frederick starring Gary Cooper (1959), Circle of Deception (1960) where she met future husband Bradford Dillman, Flight from Ashiya (1964), Chamber of Horrors (1966) and dramatic roles in TV shows such as Burke's Law and The Twilight Zone plus appearances as herself on a number of quiz shows like I've Got a Secret.
After marrying her third husband, Dillman, in 1963, and suffering injuries in a car accident in 1964, she mostly retired from modeling and acting to live a quiet life in Montecito, California with her large family. She passed away in 2003 at the age of 70.
(Information re: Suzy Parker obtained from Wikipedia)

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