Long before Iman, Naomi, or Tyra ever set a stiletto on the catwalk, Donyale Luna was strutting her way across the globe. Born Peggy Anne Freeman, Luna grew up in Detroit, where her home life was far from idyllic (her father was murdered when she was 18). The following year, photographer David McCabe spotted the lithesome beauty on the street, and it wasn't long before she was pursuing modeling in New York City. Her arrival in 1964 had magazine editors and designers competing to book the singular-looking teen.
"Back in Detroit I wasn't considered beautiful or anything, but here I'm different," Luna explained of her success. "They were looking for a new kind of model, a girl who is beautiful like you've never seen before." With her spellbinding features, ultramarine contact lenses, and seemingly endless limbs (she was 6' 2"), she certainly fit the bill. And at the height of her career, she charged a hefty day rate of $60 because, as she succinctly put it, "Being what I am, I can get what I ask."
As much a child of the sixties as the face of it, Luna spent her off-hours partying at Andy Warhol's Factory and canoodling with the likes of Rolling Stones rocker Brian Jones and sometime paramour Klaus Kinski. Her nightlife pursuits took their toll on both her career and her health, and on May 17, 1979, she was pronounced dead from a drug overdose at a clinic in Rome. But not before her beauty was immortalized in Fellini's Satyricon, The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, and several of Warhol's films, as well as in the pages of Paris Match, Harper's Bazaar, and Vogue.