- Wilhelmina Cooper
May 1939- March 1, 1980) was a supermodelwho began with Ford Modelsand, at the peak of her success, founded her own agency, Wilhelmina Models, in New York City in 1967.Cite news | url = http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,950402,00.html | title = Wilhelmina Cooper obituary | work = TIME| date = March 17, 1980 Retrieved on August 6, 2008.]
Born Wilhelmina Behmenburg in the
Netherlands, she was known professionally simply as "Wilhelmina," or "Willy" to intimates. She moved with her family to Chicago, Illinois, USA, in 1954.
She became one of the most famous models of the 1950s and '60s. During her career as a model she was on the cover of 255 magazines.Cite news | title = A lovely life taken by smoking | url = http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06155/694986-158.stm | work =
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette| date = June 4, 2006 | author = Barbara Cloud Retrieved on August 6, 2008.]
According to her obituary in
During her cover-girl days, Wilhelmina boasted that she was "one of the few high-fashion models built like a woman." So she was. With her 5 ft. 11 in., 38-24-36 frame, doe eyes, delicate cheekbones and mane of high-piled dark hair, she epitomized the classical, aristocratic look that she helped to make the style standard of the 1950s and '60s...
In 1965 she married Bruce Cooper, former executive producer of "
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson". In 1967 they founded Wilhelmina Models Eileen Fordwas hurt and angry at first when she learned that one of "her own" that she had built and groomed was to become the competition. Internationally known at the time, known for working hard, she knew everyone in the fashion industry.Fact|date=June 2008 She called top photographers that she had worked with extensively, to share her excitement over her new venture. To her credit, she was able to translate her knowledge of the business, and give new talent a look based on her own personal philosophy of beauty, glamor and elegance. Wilhelmina Models became the other leading model agency alongside Ford Models, years before Elite Model Managementand other agencies began.
Cooper was portrayed by
Faye Dunawayin the 1998 movie " Gia", which tells the story of Gia Marie Carangi, a supermodel who was discovered by Wilhelmina Cooper and later died of AIDS.
She continued to guide the agency into the late 1970s until her death from lung cancer at the age of 40 in Greenwich Hospital,
Greenwich, Connecticut.Cite news | work = New York Times| title = Wilhelmina, High-Fashion Model And Agency Owner, Is Dead at 40 | date = Mar 3, 1980 | author = Laurie Johnston | url = http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F10A1EFA3F5F12728DDDAA0894DB405B8084F1D3&scp=8&sq=Wilhelmina%20Cooper&st=cse Retrieved on August 6, 2008.]
She was a resident of
New York Cityand Cos Cob, Connecticut.
* [http://www.wilhelmina.com Wilhelmina Models]
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