Eileen Ford: Models Need Mothering

By MARIAN CHRISTY
NEW YORK-1967

Last Sunday Eileen Ford, the tough boss lady behind the world famous Ford Model Agency, went to the movies armed with a one- pound bag of jelly beans. Before the movie was half over, the candy had been eagerly consumed and Mrs. Ford —who went on a well - publicized high protein diet to whittle down from a size 12 to 8 — was riddled with guilt. But, being Eileen Ford, she did what her beauty books tell all candy lovers to do. She whizzed back to her 78th Street apartment and exercised for hours. That, plus a day of starvation,, brought her back to 110 pounds. About eating jelly beans: "It's my one insanity. I get this way everyyear around Easter." Eileen Ford expects the same kind of discipline from anyone who happens to be in her life — personal or professional. She's one of those no - nonsense types who insists that cohorts 'toe the mark. At the moment she's very upset with her husband, Jerry, who sometimes drink a small bottle of Chianti with lunch. She says he's ready for A. A. and this has got to stop." I'll hound him," she announces with the kind of vehemence that her models know is real deep. "Eventually he'll stop."

Every six months Mrs. Ford goes on an extended talent search to Scandinavian countries to "discover" beautiful young girls who eventually end up on magazine covers and on television commercials. Many make upward of $100,000 a year — with no less than two months vacation. Eileen Ford is the fairy godmother with the magic wand and every pretty girl is a potential Cinderella. Little do would-be models, however, know that the path to fame and fortune is lined with thorns. The other day a top cover girl came to the agency to pick up her $60- an ho u r assignments. She looked haggard, a state which would be exaggerated by the cruel camera even when in soft focus. Mrs. Ford had gleaned, from grapevine gossip, that the model was living with a lover. Face-to-face scene recapitulated : "Why, I just closed the door to my office and said, 'Look, dear, you're a mess. If you want to model, fine. If you want to fool around, that's fine, too. But you can't do both.
So make up your mind, and that's it.' "


There was no mistaking the ultimatum. Next day the model moved out of her little love nest and back into the good graces of her boss. "I'm really quite the mama," she chirps between crunches of celery and boiled shrimp. She's not kidding, either. A few months ago Mrs. Ford found Ava, a gorgeous blonde, in Stockholm. She invested $3,000 to bring Ava to the United States, pay the rent on a midtown Manhattan apartment and get her the right wardrobe. On her first weekend in New York Ava  simply locked glances with a handsome stranger on Fifth Avenue and the next thing Mrs. Ford knew the two had gone off together for the weekend. Within a month Mrs. Ford shipped Ava back to Stockholm and wrote a no - nonsense letter to her parents, stating that they had not taught their daughter about promiscuity and she, Mrs. Ford, had no intention of taking up where they left off. "Want to see the letter?" she asks with a Cheshire cat smile. After the Ava scene Mrs. Ford found a girl in Copenhagen. Come to New York in six months, Mrs. Ford told her. Everything went according to schedule except that the girl arrived in New York e x a c t l y 40 pounds heavier than when Mrs. Ford discovered her. "I tried to get her thin but it was a catastrophe.

"Oftentimes a Ford discovery is 16 years old, and the boss dutifully promises the concerned parents that she"ll 'l look after their daughter like she looks after hers. Mrs. Ford means it. There are six extra bedrooms in the Ford townhouse and under- aged models often live under the watchful eye of Mama Ford who expects them to pitch in with the housework, do the dishes, and keep their bedrooms in apple-pie order. Occasionally 'the pressure is too much. "Then I just telephone the parents and tell them their spoiled brat is coming back home," says Mrs. Ford. "I am not what you'd call permissive.

Mrs. Ford, a Barnard College graduate, class of 1943, is still awfully surprised she isn't a lawyer. She married Jerry when he was a Notre Dame junior. Within a year she was pregnant and law school was out — so she became secretary to two models and eventually the agency was born. She has handled, among others, Jane Fonda, Lauren Hutton and Candice Bergen. "Actually I'm not fazed by anything or anyone," she says in a typical Ford-ism. The lady still can't make up her mind about hemline length, so last month she went to Capri for a holiday and had a tailor, Enzo, make up 25 pantsuits for her to wear on and off the job. She also buys off-beat leather clothes — like wild patch work trousers — from a London boutique called Cordova. "I'm really not a fashion plate. "When the world of fashion and modeling gets a little much, Mrs. Ford uses her escape hatch. It's a cottage on the tip of Long Island where she has an intricate push - button stereo. It takes 50 long - playing records and has a dial system in her bedroom with a private speaker. When she raises a ruckus, it's a way to calm down.

 



 
Business is Beautiful
NEWSDAY SPECIAL
Wed., May 31,1967
 
Jerry and Eileen Ford are having a party it their 78lh Street brownstone that's just, well, beautiful. Eileen is beautiful to watch as she moves with true hostess- style animation among all the beautiful people at her party. Jerry Ford, tanned from the family's recent Nassau vacation and trim from the squash he plays at lunchtime, is joking with Katie, 11, and Lacey, 9, two of the Fords' four beautiful children, who are serving hors d'oeuvres. Jerry is just as beautiful to watch. The Fords are beautiful people. EILEEN FORD is an energetic, gray-eyed five-foot, five-inch, size-eight brunette who was voted best-dressed girl back in her Great Neck High School days, and who worked hard for Bundles for
Britain when she went to Barnard. Gerard W. (Jerry) Ford is a strong-jawed, six-foot, two inch,200-pound, super-cool executive who went to Notre Dame on a football scholarship and roomed with Johnny Lujack, and served with the Navy in the Philippines during the war, and wound up getting a bachelor of arts degree nights at Columbia University. A team in both marriage and business, Eileen and Jerry are so well-paired that
when you ask Jerry their ages be can answer in one fell swoop. "We're 42," he says. Gorgeous.

THE FORDS have always been beautiful people. Just 30 years ago, they sold a 1941 automobile for (900, put a down payment on a small office, borrowed a card table from Eileen's mother, bought a camp chair, installed five, phones and opened the Ford Model Agency. Last year, the agency grossed $5,500,000, and the Fords' share was about $750,- 000. That's really beautiful

Jerry and Eileen Ford, who run one of the world's top model agencies (they estimate that they do 30 per cent of the model agency business in the world, and 70 per cent of it in New York), go skiing in Austria and sailing in Nassau. And lots of other things. The Fords have a summer place in Quogue, and the nine-room brownstone in Manhattan,
where you might see them at such places as 21 and Le Club, and they have a four- floor office building alongside the 59th  Street bridge. THEY RENT out the first floor to an art gallery: Eileen's suite is on the second floor, Jerry's is on the third, and the IBM filing and billing machines are on the fourth. About 27 people, most of them bookkeeping help, work in the  building, and hundreds of the most beautiful people in the world are dispatched from it.
 
Beautiful girls from everywhere are Ford models. Suzy Parker, who got a record $10,000 a few years ago for one day's work making a TV toothpaste commercial, is a Ford model. So is Jean Shrimpton, who once got a record $5,000 for posing for a print advertisement  proclaiming the virtues of a car. Jane Fonda was a Ford model, and so were Candy Bergen, Camilla Spajy, Tippi Hedren and Elsa Martinelli. 'About 175 girls and 75 men models for the Fords. Three of the girls are Negro,, and so are three, of the men.  Suzy Parker gets $120 an .hour, what with being a movie actress and all, while most other models get $50 to $60 an hour. with time and a half after 5:30
AS FOR THE Fords, they get 20 per cent—10 per cent from the model and 10 per cent from the photographer, firm or
agency that requires their services. The client pays the model agency, which pays the model Ford says the agency never has less than $600,000 due it at any one time. Ford models all hit five figures in annual income. Of course, the men don't do
as well as the girls; they rarely exceed $40,000 a year. Most of the girls make between $40,-000 and $$Q,000; recently 32  of them posed for a group picture and their average income was about $60,000, which is more than Vice President Humphrey makes.
 
Sumy Griffin, a 25-year-old, may have been last year's money-winner with earnings reported in the neighborhood of $90,000. Thai's a beautiful neighborhood; it would put her a mere $10,000  behind President Johnson, who poses for magazines like Time and Life free of charge. SUNNY was on the covers of Vogue Patterns and Redbook in recent months and did a TV hair product commercial that has brought her $10,000
.
And with that sort of thing going for Jerry and Eileen Ford, the party in their East Side brownstone would have to be a beautiful party. It's being held for Bob Evans, a beautiful movie producer, who was once married to Camilla Sparv. "The personal lives of my models are technically "none of my damned business," says Ford. "I have had a number of models who divorced husbands who were good friends of mine." Ford models are scattered about the party like silver confetti: They are talking to movie-type executives with expensive suits and matching haircuts, and a few young continentals with Cardin-style jackets and foppish manners.
 
DOROTHEA McGowan, a native of Bay Ridge, is there. Dorothea, who has been on the cover of Glamour and Harper's Bazaar, recently got back from Paris. She made a film in Paris called "Who Are You, Polly McGoo?" and she prattles in French to one of the continentals.  A reporter asks Dorothea her age, and the European says, "How in dee-screet!" Dorothea won't tell her age, but she gives the Fords a testimonial. "I have
never met more proficient, honest, great people to work for," she says.
 
Mike Irving and Bruce Bartie, ,two male models, are there. Mike, an Australian, says it's a strange experience the first time a man sees himself in a subway poster. Also,
Heidi Wiedeck is there. Heidi, a blonde with an angelic face, is wearing a chic black slack outfit with a halters jacket. The jacket would be .quite daring- if her chest were more rounded. Heidi is German, her father is a NATO engineer.

.
HERS IS a face with which. you are no doubt familiar. So are the faces of other Ford girls such as Vicki Hilbert ,Agneta DarinVeronica Hamil , Martha Branch and Dolores Ericson (whom you may have lying about the house on the cover of Herb Alpert's album, "Whipped Cream and Other Delights"). All have the same "good bones" and the five-figure incomes Oh, there are differences, but it's the similarities that are striking. Basically, it's the same face. It's the face you see on subway posters,

fashion m a g a z i n e layouts, TV commercials, print advertisements, and the pages of mail-order catalogs.

AND THIS is no accident. Because the face is the one that Eileen Ford looks for among the thousands of girls who seek fame and fortune at her office or send in their photos, and it is the face she looks for when she scouts the fashion  centers of London and Paris. (About 40 per cent of the agency's models are European.) Eileen Ford makes no bones about  what she wants in a model. Good bones, that's what she wants. Her requirements are high cheekbones, wide-set eyes and  straight, narrow noses. Other requirements are that the recruit be no older than 22, between five-seven add five-nine in her stockinged feet, and no heavier than. 124 pounds. And she should have slim wrists and legs.1 "The worst thing for a girl's  legs are ballet-dancing lessons when she's young," says Eileen Ford. ".
 
With male models, the thingies the ugly-handsome look. What Jerry Ford describes as "the beat-up, prize-fighterish look."  and that they be between five-11 and six-two, take a size 40 or so and have 30-to-32-inch waists." Ford says that personality is even more important for men than it is for women, but it's necessary for both.
 
"WE REALIZED the emergence of the fashion model as being important to deal with," says Jerry. "Before that illustrations were the big thing. We were the first to recognize the importance of representing the right models, instead of having the right clients. Our emphasis is on doing our best for our models." The Fords both work hard. And they know their business, which roughly breaks down into 30 per cent mail-order catalog work; 20 per cent magazine and newspaper layout, 20 per cent general fashion, 20 per cent TV commercials, and 10 per cent fashion shows. The percentages are Jerry's business. He handles the male models and runs the bookkeeping and business end of the operation, while Eileen is in charge of the girls.
 
"MODELS are basically just girls," she says. "They get confused about financial things. It's not just taking care of the
bookings; one must be a good agent and really sell them. The other thing is to handle the model's affairs so that she has some order in her life."
 
Jerry is tall, handsome and executive smooth with a sophistication not uncommon among residents of his native New Orleans. Eileen is small and animated with a hustle-bustle energy not uncommon among residents of her native Great Neck. They met in New York while Eileen was at Barnard and Jerry was in the Navy's V-12 officer-training program at Columbia. They were married in 1944. While Jerry was overseas, Eileen worked as a photographer's assistant, and then as a stylist and copywriter for a department store. AFTER THE war, Jerry worked for Eileen's father, head of a New York credit agency .
 
Meanwhile, Eileen was taking care of bookings for friends who were models. When she got up to 10 models, the Fords decided to open their own agency. The business grew, and so did the family There are Katie, Lacey, Billy, 14, and Jaime, 20,
a student at the University of Utah. J e r r y Ford says that he would let his children model if they wanted to.  At present, Jaime is the only one old enough, but she doesn't meet the physical requirements.
 
AS A FAMILY, the Fords enjoy sports and vacations together. The Fords invite models to their summer place in Quogue, and they entertain three or four times a week at their brownstone. "It's very i m p o r t a n t," says Jerry." Mainly, it's seeing our models. We don't see them day to day."
 
Recently, the Fords made news in defense of their models when they announced that they would refuse to permit their girls to pose for pictures used on consumer product packages unless the model was guaranteed an annual fee
for as long as the package was used So far there have been no complaints, says Jerry Ford The whole idea has been working out beautifully. It's the way things seem to go for Jerry and Eileen Ford, who have made the world a better place to live for girls with wide-set eyes, straight, narrow noses and tall, slim figures. And for themselves. It's beautiful.

Copyright 1967, Newsday,
EILEEN AND JERRY FORD
Mr. and Mrs. Beautiful at their model agency
it is only fitting that they have succeeded in the beautiful people
business.