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January 16, 2020

Curious Photos of Cynthia, a Superstar Mannequin in the ‘30s

In 1932, a life-like mannequin named Cynthia was created by Lester Gaba. After several shoots around New York City for Life Magazine in 1937, her career was launched, and for a matter of months, Cynthia became a household name. Similar to an A-list celebrity, the mannequin superstar began receiving fan mails, gifts and invitations to events, was sent jewelry and dresses from luxury fashion houses, had her own television talk show and starred on the silver screen of Hollywood. Cynthia’s dazzling fame even led to gossip columnists writing about her as an actual living socialite, telling stories of the lavish events she attended with Gaba, her creator.

As a mannequin, her popularity eventually decreased. Cynthia officially retired when Gaba was inducted into the army in 1942. She made a comeback in a television show in 1953, but the duo’s magic was over at the time, and that marked the end of Cynthia’s appearance to the public. Gaba would later admit that “Cynthia never made any sense” in an interview with the New York Times. Nevertheless, it was her popularity that made a significant impact on the use of mannequins in retail sales marketing.

Let’s take a look at the insanely strange star of the 1930s:

Choosing a face for Cynthia, 1937. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE.

Part of Cynthia, 1937. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE.

Making up for Cynthia, 1937. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE.

Cynthia, the mannequin who became a superstar, gets a makeover in 1937. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE.

Lester Gaba making an adjustment to his lifelike mannequin Cynthia, 1937. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE.
Dressing Cynthia up, 1937. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE.

Lester Gaba making an adjustment to his lifelike mannequin Cynthia, 1937. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE.

Painting nails for Cynthia, 1937. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE.

Cynthia relaxes at Lester Gaba's apartment in New York in 1937. One of Gaba's paintings is behind her on the wall. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE.

Lester Gaba with his creation, Cynthia the mannequin, 1937. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE.

Cynthia's closet, 1937. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE.

Lester Gaba and his mannequin Cynthia riding transit in New York City, 1937. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE.

Cynthia on a New York City tour bus, 1937. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE.

Lester Gaba at the Stork Club, New York, with his mannequin Cynthia, 1937. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE.

Cynthia at a bar, New York, 1937. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE.

Sunday brunch at novelist Thyra Samter Winslow's Park Avenue home in 1937. Cynthia sits to the right of mural painter Franklin Hughes. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE.

Lester Gaba dines at the Marguery, a New York restaurant, with his mannequin Cynthia, 1937. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE.

Back view of Cynthia at a restaurant, 1937. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE.

Lester Gaba holding Cynthia in his arms, 1937. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE.

Cynthia in a theater box with Lester Gabba, her creator, 1939. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE.

Lester Gaba takes Cynthia to the Broadhurst Theater in New York in 1939. Photo by Frank Scherschel/LIFE.


1 comment:

  1. Time to leave the bar , take a cab to the train station and head for a small town upstate , then take a long walk in the woods …...

    ReplyDelete

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