Dovima - Style Icon of the 1950's October 26 2014

Dovima with Elephants by Richard Avedon

Dovima, the model whom Richard Avedon called ''the most remarkable and unconventional beauty of her time,'' was born Dorothy Virginia Margaret Juba in Jackson Heights, Queens. She created the name she was known by from the initials of her given names. Originally Dovima was the name of the imaginary friend she had as a child during the time she was bedridden with rheumatic fever.

Dovima photographed by Richard Avedon

She was “discovered” by the fashion world when she was walking out of an Automat in 1949 with her first husband, Jack Golden. A woman asked her if she had ever been a fashion model. This woman worked for Vogue magazine and invited her to take some test photographs. The folowing day she was scheduled to be photographed by Irving Penn. She kept her mouth closed due to a bad tooth which gave the photo a mysterious look that reminded people of the Mona Lisa. Within a year she was one of the top models at the Ford Model Agency, where she is said to have made $30 an hour when the other leading models made $25.

Dovima, Jean Patchett and other 1950's models

Dovima, along with Lisa Fonssagrives, Sonny Harnett, Dorean Leigh, Suzy Parker and Jean Patchett, epitomized the aloof and regal look of 1950's fashion models. She left modeling in 1962, at the age of 35, saying, ''I didn't want to wait until the camera turned cruel.'' She had several small roles in television plays and movies before ultimately retiring in 1975. As an actress she was known for her roles in Funny Face (1957), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964) and My Favorite Martian (1963).

She died on May 3, 1990 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA.

Dovima, 1950's model