The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Entertainment & Events

July 11, 2014

Ford Model Agency founder dies

NEW YORK — Modeling agency founder Eileen Ford, who shaped a generation’s standards of beauty as she built an empire and launched the careers of Candice Bergen, Lauren Hutton, Christie Brinkley and countless others, has died.

She was 92 and died Wednesday of complications from a brain tumor and osteoporosis, according to Arielle Baran, a spokeswoman for Derris & Co., which handles public relations for Ford and announced the death Thursday.

Ford was known for her steely manner and eye for talent. She demanded professionalism from her models, putting them on strict diets and firing those with a taste for late-night revelry. Her discipline pushed Ford Model Agency to the top, making multimillionaires of both Ford and her late husband, Jerry, who handled the business side.

The typical Ford woman was tall, thin, often blond, with wide-set eyes and a long neck. Eileen Ford was known to tell hopefuls shorter than 5 foot 7 to give up their dreams.

Supermodel Christie Brinkley posted a photo of her and Ford on her Instagram account, saying Ford was “the best in the business. She saw something in me and with her brilliant business acumen, her knowledge, experience, and personal touch, she took me from Malibu surfer girl and guided my career.”

Another Ford protege, Christy Turlington Burns, said she felt “fortunate to have worked in the industry at a time when legends like Eileen Ford were still reigning. Being a part of the Ford Agency when I began my career was truly special. I will always remember Eileen and her indomitable presence with fondness and gratitude.”

Ford’s daughter Katie, who at one time ran the company, said in a statement that her mother’s “greatest thrill was to spot a model in the daily course of life.”

StrokeStyle/$ID/SolidAP Photo/Chrystyna Czajkowsky, File She’d then follow the prospect surreptitiously to assess her. A few of those finds went on to fame, including Vendela Kirsebom, whom Ford discovered in a restaurant in Sweden, and Karen Graham, whom Ford spotted at Bonwit Teller department store and who went on to become the face of Estee Lauder beauty products.

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