FOR CHRISTMAS OF 1966, I remember being taken by my Father to visit a relative’s house. It was probably during December, as we often made the rounds of seeing great Aunts and distant cousins during Christmas season. At one stop, I was introduced to my second or third cousin, Molly.
I remember her as, um, reserved. And so darn pretty as to make me wish I wasn’t so darned, you know, reserved. I was perhaps 15, she perhaps 16. I was my usually awkward self with girls—any girl but especially pretty girls. I remember nothing else.
Later I found out that her big sister Colleen was one of the most famous models in the world. This was news to me: as a ‘guy’ I knew lots about baseball and comic books and science fiction novels but nothing about the world of fashion and the silly magazines that girls read.
Cousin Molly in the May 1966 issue of Teen, meaning she was already successful when I met her when we were both teenagers.
As my group of Umphreds were not close to the Corbys, I was never shown any photos of Colleen so I really didn’t know what she looked like. The only model I knew of before Twiggy (and her excessive skinniness and too-short hair) was Donna Loren, and then only because she also made records and movies and so popped up in the pop music magazines of the mid-’60s.
To make my point: I was so underwhelmed by modeldom that Janet, my girlfriend of more than two years during high school, never knew that I had a model for a cousin. It was only that the Internet made so much previously obscure information so readily available that I caught onto the beauty and the success of my cuz.
This photo was taken in 1964 as Colleen was about to take over the world of teen fashion. It is iconic: she is pretty, perky, and pixieish, traits that would be her signature to many fans, especially young girls who followed her in Seventeen and other magazines. This was a full-page ad for Cover Girl make-up in the April 1965 issue of Ingenue.
Colleen Corby, superstar model
This is a brief intro to Colleen Corby, superstar model. The photos I selected were a combination of those I thought representational of Colleen’s career, those I thought representational of the Mod and Swinging Sixties, and those I found particularly lovely.
The images are arranged in rough chronological order, but I paid attention to layout and design so that this page is visually interesting.
I frankly don’t remember Teen magazine but since it was a chick ‘zine, I probably did no more than glance at it once or twice. The only thing noted on either cover that would have interested me would have been the piece on the Beatles’ second movie.
This would not be a complete article if Colleen’s lengthy and mutually profitable association with Seventeen magazine was not acknowledged.
She looks years (and many life-experiences) older on the cover of the April 1965 issue of Ingenue. This is one of my favorites photos, possibly because it reminds me of Natalie Wood, on whom I had a HUGE crush in the ’60s.
This photo was taken in the second half of the decade and is quintessentially Sixties. The look that Colleen has here—especially the hair and make-up—seems to predict the look of Linda Ronstadt and Natalie Wood of the early ’70s.
Colleen and Molly in a scene that would be drowned out prior to publication by the PC Police of the 21st century. But if emulating Native American culture isn’t a part of the Sixties, then neither is Op Art and Dayglo!
The final two images below, along with the header at the top of this page, are black and white and yet capture her loveliness better than most of the full-color photos.
Finally, two things need to be addressed: first, when I brought the topic of visiting the Corbys forty years before to my Father’s attention (about ten years ago), he assured me that it had never happened! I assured him that the only way that I could have known about Colleen’s sister prior to the Internet was through this having occurred.
In hindsight, it is possible that I did visit relatives who were not Corbys but was accompanied by my grandparents and who were also being visited by Molly and her parents.
So, Cousin Molly, if you are reading this and it rings any bells, please add a comment below assuring me that this memory is so or that I need to be on the alert for early onset Alzheimers.
Two-page spread from the February 1969 issue of Seventeen. Sitting: Paul Kantner, Jorma Kaukonen, and unknown model. Standing: Colleen Corby, Grace Slick, Spencer Dryden, Marty Balin, Jack Casady, and unknown model. I think this would have been a more interesting image had the three models been long, dark-haired Gracie lookalikes.