Dorian Leigh (FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON (AP) - Dorian Leigh, an early supermodel who made Revlon's 1950s "Fire and Ice" cosmetics line famous, has died at age 91.
Leigh, who went on to run her own modeling agency and open a restaurant in France, died Monday at a nursing home in Falls Church, Va., according to her eldest son, T.L. Hawkins of McLean, Va.
Leigh began her modeling career at a major fashion agency run by Harry Conover. She appeared on the cover of numerous magazines, including Look, McCall's and Harper's Bazaar, and worked with renowned photographers including Louise Dahl-Wolfe and Irving Penn.
She was among the first models who signed with Ford Agency. In 1997, founder Eileen Ford told the The Free Lance-Star in Virginia that Leigh was "truly the best model of our time."
"She instinctively knew what every photographer wanted, and she came alive just at the moment the shutter clicked," Ford said.
Leigh helped Revlon's "Fire and Ice" and "Cherries in the Snow" lipstick and nail polish campaigns take off in the 1950s with poses shot by Richard Avedon.
Her son recalls one memorable image featuring the curvy, brunette model looking into the camera with her striking blue eyes. Her mouth is slightly open, showing off the Revlon lipstick that became popular. At 5-foot-5, she's standing in high heels, with one hand propped on her hip and the other close to her cheek.
"It was a fantastic shot," Hawkins said. "It was a rhinestone dress that went all the way down the floor."
Leigh brought her younger sister, Suzy Parker, into the industry. Parker went on to become a prominent supermodel.
Hawkins said Leigh had at least five husbands, the first of whom was his father, Marshall Hawkins. Leigh claimed to have married another man with whom she had a son, but Hawkins said it's unclear whether they actually tied the knot.
A son and daughter predeceased Leigh. She is survived by Hawkins and two daughters , and three grandchildren.
Leigh was born April 23, 1917, in San Antonio, Texas, the eldest of four daughters. Before modeling, she worked at a New Jersey company that did mechanical design for the military.
After Leigh left modeling in the 1960s, she started her own fashion modeling agency in Paris, among the first in France.
After divorcing her last husband, Leigh devoted herself to cooking. She attended the Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris and opened a restaurant south of Paris. In the 1970s, she worked with Martha Stewart, developing recipes and publishing cookbooks, according to her son.
In late life, Leigh dabbled in another field: "She was a rabid Democrat, very much into the politics," Hawkins said. She joined a local Democratic group in the early 1990s, while living in a conservative enclave in Fredericksburg, Va.
Throughout her life, Leigh savored attention and loved to entertain. Hawkins said his mother enjoyed having all eyes turn her way when she walked into a room. She would arrive deliberately late to gatherings to ensure a grand entrance.
"She was like a diva," Hawkins said. "It was just remarkable. It was just an aura, she had an aura."
Article copyright © 2008 The Associated Press
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