ColleenCorby BonneBell 1500 crop

colleen corby, the first superstar model (and she’s my cousin!)

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.

 

MollyCorby Teen May1966 b 600

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.

 

ColleenCorby Teen July1965 600

‘Teen­July 1965

 

ColleenCorby Teen August1965 500

Au­gust 1965

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.

 

ColleenCorby Seventeen Dec1964 600

De­cember 1964

 

ColleenCorby Seventeen Mar1966 600

March 1966

 

ColleenCorby Seventeen Feb1967 600

Feb­ruary 1967

 

ColleenCorby Seventeen May1967 600

May 1967

 

ColleenCorby Seventeen Sep1968 600

Sep­tember 1968

 

ColleenCorby Seventeen Feb1969 600

Feb­ruary 1969

This would not be a com­plete ar­ticle if Colleen’s lengthy and mu­tu­ally prof­itable as­so­ci­a­tion with Sev­en­teen mag­a­zine was not ac­knowl­edged. 

 

ColleenCorby Ingenue April1965 600

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. 

 

 

 ColleenCorby Ronstadt 500

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.

 

ColleenCorby MollyCorby ad July1970 600

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.

 

ColleenCorby motorcycle 500

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.

 

 

 

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Neal, I re­ally en­joyed this. Your ar­ti­cles are won­derful when they don’t de­volve into tire­some po­lit­ical screeds. Thanks for sharing this!

That is some beau­tiful time-travel…in more ways than one.

Still trying to get my head around the Air­plane posing for Seventeen…in 1969. It’s great…just not how I pic­tured the Age somehow!

I too re­member a visit to a house in Wilkes Barre where there were photos around pic­turing a young, good looking girl who we were told was our cousin who was a very suc­cessful model

That visit was and still is the only time I was given a con­nec­tion to my blood­line and Colleen .….so I have to agree with you that it re­ally hap­pened to us.

Hi. I am your cousin too! My grand­mother and Colleen’s grand­fa­ther were brother and sister. I do ge­nealogy and your last name comes up in records. Hi!!!!

Hi Neal,

I just thought I would let you know that I have a web­site de­voted to your beau­tiful cousin, Colleen. If you want to check it out, it’s colleencorby.net. I have pics from pretty much her en­tire ca­reer (a re­mark­ably long 20+ years). I was a big fan of Colleen when I was a kid. I dis­cov­ered her in the Sears and Pen­ney’s cat­a­logs of the Sev­en­ties. (I was too young in the Six­ties to even know she ex­isted, and I only found out her name about 10 or 15 years ago.)

Great ar­ticle!!

If I re­member cor­rectly, the model lounging in the purple outfit is Lucy Angle, an­other beauty from that era! Thanks for the happy walk down memory lane

Neal, if you want to see the scene where Lucy Angle ap­pears in that movie, I clipped it and posted it on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62707zQnW0Y
Also, here’s a com­mer­cial fea­turing Colleen from 1965: youtube.com/watch?v=ZsDoXrQXvDY.

I al­ways as girl of 14 wanted to look like colleen but my nick­name was twiggy