#BEproud #BEstyleHistory: Donyale Luna – Cover Model

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The modeling world is one that many women aspire to enter and BEcome famous. As the stories are told, many others just happen to BE in the right coffee shop or grocery store at the right time. A similar experience would introduce the world to the first African American Cover Girl and noted model, Donyale Luna. Born Peggy Anne Freeman to Peggy and Nathaniel Freeman, she always wanted to BE more that your average girl. At the time of her discovery, Donyale was pursuing the career her mother wanted for her, that of a nurse. While residing in her hometown of Detroit, she was discovered by photographer, David McCabe. This discovery would forever change her as she had BEcome to know it. She was able to expound on some of the creative images and dreams in her head. In fact, in the mid 1960’s, a relative described Luna as being “a very weird child, even from birth, living in a wonderland, a dream.” BEcause her tumultuous upbringing, Luna created this alter universe where she was the child of a Mexican mother and a father with the surname Luna. She changed her name to suit this identity she had created of herself.

To follow what had BEcome the new path for her, the self proclaimed product of multi-cultural lineage decided to move to New York City and pursue her career as a model. Luna quickly BEcame notarized for her amazingly thin and tall figure. Donyale stood 6’2 tall and had BEautiful facial features. These attributes lead to her BEing the talk in all-of-the fashion world.  During the late 60’s to early 70’s, Donyale BEgan working as an actress in movies by Andy Warhol and in The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus. In January of 1965, a sketch of her appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. Luna was BEginning to experience the lives that many celebrities during this time period lived. She divorced her husband after ten months and moved back to Detroit. BEing back at home in Michigan was not enough for her, Luna moved to London and Paris by the end of that year. In March 1966, she was the first Afro-American model to appear on the cover of British Vogue. According to an article published in Time magazine on April 1, 1966, this year be known as “The Luna Year.” dl0005

Even though all the success was coming her way, Luna could not escape the influences of those she surrounded herself and with what was readily available. She BEgan to abuse drugs and as a result BEcame unprofessional in her appearance on the runway and at various photo shoots. Another black model of the time was quickly on her heals and remembered what it was like to go through the Luna experience.  Beverly Johnson stated that Luna “doesn’t wear shoes winter or summer. She went up and down the runways on her hands and knees. She didn’t show up for bookings. She didn’t have a hard time; she made it hard for herself.” Donyale’s life started to spiral, leading quick and unsuccessful romances. In doing the research, I asked myself the question that ponders the mind of many psychologists today. Could her bad choices be a result of her tumultuous childhood with an abusive father that was murdered when she was just 18 years old? Whatever the case may be, the inability to realize that LSD was destroying her life, Luna was checked into a clinic in Rome. This is where she would loose her life. She is survived by her daughter, Dream Cazzaniga, as love child by famed Playboy photographer Luigi Cazzaniga. Luigi shot Donyale for the Playboy nude layout in 1975. Dream was born in 1977 and is now a successful dancer, actress, and singer living in Italy. Dream is working with great artist from around the world, traveling on live tours with Ricky Martin and Lionel Richie, and Kylie Minougue.

The life of Donyale Luna and Pat Hartley, the only black women to be part of the Warhol Studio is BEing depicting in a documentary by Jennifer Poe.

Thanks to: www.Wikipedia.com , http://donyaleluna.tripod.com/07mYOMTD00Zdonyale lunatumblr_lw7h6m5yMV1r42yu0o1_5006799f142b922f591a9ed07fe9d49416e Donyale Luna - Playboy -2000000052IMGP8243


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