Note: While many people know
Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Iman and Beverly
Johnson this lady set the trend and needs
to get some light.
Luna (1 January 1945 - 17 May 1979) was
the first notable African American supermodel
and the first black cover girl. She also
appeared in several films, most notably
as the title role in Salome.
Peggy Anne Freeman in Detroit, Michigan,
her parents were Peggy and Nathaniel Freeman.
Her father, who was reportedly abusive,
was murdered when she was 18. Luna's mother
wanted her to become a nurse.
Despite the parentage stated on her birth
certificate, she insisted that her biological
father was a man with the surname Luna
and that her mother was Mexican. According
to the model, one of her grandmothers
was reportedly an Irishwoman who married
a black interior decorator. Whether any
of this background is true is uncertain.
In the mid 1960s, a relative described
Luna as being "a very weird child,
even from birth, living in a wonderland,
After being discovered by the photographer
David McCabe, she moved from Detroit to
New York City to pursue a modeling career.
She became the first African American
model to appear on the cover of Vogue
(March 1966). For several years, she was
under exclusive contract to the photographer
An article in Time magazine published
on 1 April 1966, "The Luna Year",
described the dramatically thin and tall
(6' 2") model with the hallmark bright
blue contact lenses and occasional blonde
wig as "a new heavenly body who,
because of her striking singularity, promises
to remain on high for many a season. Donyale
Luna, as she calls herself, was unquestionably
the hottest model in Europe. She is only
20, hails from Detroit, and is not to
In 1967, the mannequin manufacturer Adel
Rootstein created a mannequin in Luna's
image, a follow-up to her famous Twiggy
mannequin of 1966.
Luna Strikes A
Pose circa 1963
behavior signalled the decline of Luna's
career. As recalled by another black model
who came to prominence toward the end
of Luna's heyday, Beverly Johnson, Luna
"doesn't wear shoes winter or summer.
Ask her where she's from -- Mars? 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."
the late 1960s and early 1970s, Luna appeared
in several films produced by Andy Warhol
(including Camp) and Federico Fellini
(Fellini Satyricon). She also appeared
in The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus,
the Otto Preminger comedy Skidoo (in which
she was featured as the mistress of God,
who was portrayed by Groucho Marx), and
the British documentary Tonite Let's All
Make Love in London. Salvador Dalí
considered her one of his favorite models.
was married briefly in the mid 1960s,
to a man described as a gigolo. Later
she was engaged to the Austrian actor
Maximilian Schell, to an unnamed Danish
photographer, and to Georg Willing, a
German actor who appeared in European
horror films and with the Living Theatre.
March 1966 Vogue Cover
appeared in a nude photo layout in the
April 1975 issue of Playboy.
Luna died in Rome, Italy, in a clinic,
after a drug overdose.
Jennifer Poe is working on a documentary
about Luna and Pat Hartley, who were the
only black women to be part of the Warhol
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