Model-actress Suzy Parker, one of the most recognizable faces of the 1950s and a forerunner of the supermodel, died Saturday May 3 at her home in MontecitoCalif., near Santa Barbara. She was 69.
Parker, known in later life as Suzy Parker Dillman, was the signature face for designer Coco Chanel and photographed by the likes of Richard Avedon and Milton H. Greene, once said Parker helped redefine the word “elegance” in magazines.
Parker, known for her full, red hair and envied bone structure, was at one time the highest paid model, earning $200 an hour.
In 1957, Parker made her Hollywood debut in the musical “FunnyFace,” starring Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn. She danced in a number called “Think Pink” that spoofed fashion editors like the woman who gave Parker her start, Diana Vreeland.
Parker’s other film credits include “Kiss Them for Me” (also 1957), opposite Cary Grant, and “Ten North Frederick” (1958) starring Gary Cooper. She also appeared in “The Twilight Zone” and “Tarzan” television series.
Born Cecelia Anne Renee Parker, she was the younger sister of model Dorian Leigh, who graced the cover of fashion magazines beginning in the 1940s. Leigh helped her sister get into modeling at the age of 14 by taking her to see powerful modeling agent Eileen Ford, who promptly declared that the teenager — at 5 feet, 9 inches — was too tall. But Vreeland wasn’t put off by Parker’s height and put her to work.
In Hollywood, Parker met her third future husband, actor Bradford Dillman. They married in 1963 and moved to Montecito in 1968 to escape the celebrity life.
She is survived by her husband, four children, two stepchildren and two sisters, including Leigh .