LocalObituaries

Eileen Ford dies at 92; Ford Models co-founder was industry leader

Obituary: Eileen Ford co-founded Ford modeling agency
Eileen Ford, who co-founded Ford Models with her husband, has died
Eileen Ford, widely credited with pioneering the modern modeling agency, dies at 92

Eileen Ford, the co-founder of Ford Models, died Wednesday, a spokesperson for the company confirmed Thursday. She was 92. 

Ford, who co-founded the agency with her husband, Gerald Ford, is widely credited with pioneering the modern modeling agency.

Ford Models released a statement calling her "an industry icon and pioneer."

"Everyone in the Ford Models family will miss her dearly. Eileen’s contributions to the modeling and fashion industries are unmatched," the company said. "She founded Ford Models 68 years ago and due to her unwavering passion, curiosity and drive, grew Ford into one of the world’s most prestigious agencies.

"We are incredibly proud and grateful for her revolutionary spirit and the values she instilled in Ford Models.”

Ford was among a small number of highly influential agency owners who transformed models into the international stars they are today.

Former Ford models Beverly Johnson, the first African American woman to appear on the cover of Vogue, and Cheryl Tiegs were among the many expressing their condolences Thursday.

Over the years, Ford's agency represented many of the best-known names in the business.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 1980, Ford talked about her views of the industry, predicting the "preoccupation with the 12- and 13-year-old look will pass quickly."

Although she did not, in general, approve of young girls working in the high-pressure modeling business, Ford represented Brooke Shields until her movie career took off. But she called Shields an exception.

"She's modeled since she was a baby and can handle things with great equanimity. But I don't think others can unless they are very professional children. I think the concept of a mother saying 'fame at any price' is terrible."

She also accurately predicted that 20 years down the road the business would see a shift to models staying active much longer because the "buying power will be with people in their 50s and 60s."

At the time, Ford noted that Tiegs' look -- with her quintessential blond hair and blue eyes -- dominated the model market. But she said she believed that would change.  

"I don't think of people as black or white. It's a question of 'are they photogenic or not?" she told The Times "I don't think anyone says, 'Let's book her. She's black.' I think they say, 'Let's book her. She's good.' We've come that far."

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Read The Times’ full obituary of Eileen Ford.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

10:37 a.m.: This post was updated with a statement from Ford Models.

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