The Most Beautiful African-American Model of the 1950s ? Lost and Forgotten Cheesecake Pinup of Color
She appears on the cover of "Tawny Models" in the early 1950s, a smut digest pretending to be "figure studies for artists" to avoid censors. She appears in 4" x 5" photo sets sold from the back of magazines...and was photographed at the same sessions which produced the most famous pinup model of all, Bettie Page.
Fifty years later, she appears on the cover of my book which could tell the story of every African-American model trying to find a place in front of the camera during the second half of the 20th century. She likely faced racism, prejudice...and as was the case for all nude models during the time, she may have faced arrest and prosecution. Today no one knows who this young African-American model and pioneer was.
"Tawny Models" though undated, was published between 1950 and 1955 with a Miami, Florida address, but that could be a mail drop or a ruse, as nearly identical booklets appear with New York addresses at the same time. Nude photographs were sold under the counter and by mail at the time, and arrests were common. "Tawny Models" was part of a large group of picture only "Art Study" booklets by a largely unknown photographer going under the pseudonym of Marno. "Marno the Photographer" actually, but he had other names too.
Likewise, the color picture here (color only because the photographer tinted the original by hand) was taken around 1955. The undated "stag picture" with the other models would have been sold as a "strip-set" of 8 depicting clothes being removed. There is no documentation available.
Light-skinned, short natural hair...the photographs, while cropped here for discretion, could have been taken then or now. Just one of the thousands of models who worked for five bucks a session, now lost, and always anonymous. Something of a rebel in a field which seldom took note of African-American beauty. This model who today would be called "a fresh face" would likely be well into her 70s, but since the racket was tough she might not be around at all.
Tawny Models Camera Digest circa 1950 Photographs by "Marno" and Hand-Tinted photograph by Rudolph Rossi circa 1955, Collection Jim Linderman
Additional, un-cropped and uncensored photographs of the model appear on the "adult only" website Camera Club Girls HERE