Setting the standard for the beauty industry in 1946 when she and her husband started the Ford Modelling Agency, Eileen Ford built an empire and launched the careers of Candice Bergen, Lauren Hutton, Jane Fonda, Suzy Parker, Ali McGraw and countless others.
Ms. Ford believed that a model’s personality was as important as her looks, and she established herself as a mentor with virtually all the women who worked at her agency. The youngest often lived at her apartment, and she insisted that they focus on studies and education. On one occasion she prohibited the young Kim Basinger from going out before finishing her French homework. Supermodel Christy Brinkley said of Ms. Ford, “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.”
Ms. Ford, who herself obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Barnard College, was adamant that all her models learn how to take care of themselves, and almost all of them became successful business women in their own right.