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NYC’s first supermodel died alone in an insane asylum
« on: March 07, 2016, 02:44:04 AM »

NYC’s first supermodel died alone in an insane asylum

By Reed Tucker
March 5, 2016

audrey_munson1 - NYC’s first supermodel died alone in an insane asylum - Lifestyle, Culture and Arts
Audrey Munson in 1915.
Photo: Library of Congress


She was known as “the most perfect model,” and in her heyday one headline proclaimed, “All New York Bows to the Real Miss Manhattan.” She earned the name not just because she was the toast of the town in the 1910s, but because her perfectly proportioned face and body inspired numerous works of sculpture that still stand in Manhattan, Brooklyn and The Bronx today.

One contemporary account concluded that Audrey Munson “posed for more public works than anyone” — at least a dozen of which are still on public display. New Yorkers may not know it, but they see Munson everywhere.

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Re: NYC’s first supermodel died alone in an insane asylum
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2016, 02:44:59 AM »

20140608_zaf_v61_022 - NYC’s first supermodel died alone in an insane asylum - Lifestyle, Culture and Arts
Munson inspired numerous sculptures, including the one atop the USS Maine National Monument at the entrance to Central Park in Columbus Circle.Photo: ZumaPress.com

Her face and body were the basis for “Civic Fame,” the statue that stands atop the Municipal Building at 1 Centre St., as well as the figure of Columbia adorning the USS Maine National Monument in Columbus Circle and the “Spirit of Commerce” angel at the northern base of the Manhattan Bridge.

That’s her likeness lounging above the front door of the Frick and coyly tucked in a niche outside the New York Public Library’s main branch. She is the face of Pomona, the Roman goddess of abundance, on the Pulitzer Fountain at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue, across from the Plaza Hotel.

“She was the first supermodel — and the first model to have a standing in society,” says Diane Rozas, co-author of “American Venus: The Extraordinary Life of Audrey Munson, Model and Muse.”

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Re: NYC’s first supermodel died alone in an insane asylum
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2016, 02:49:44 AM »

https://vimeo.com/8673337
Film by Roberto Serrini and Leslie Napoles Vooris

Munson was born in Rochester in 1891. Her parents divorced when she was young, and she moved with her mother to Manhattan. While walking down Broadway, the 15-year-old was approached by a photographer who asked to take her picture. Another version of the story has Munson being hit by a car carrying a sculptor who took a liking to her.

471px-isidore_konti_3037246225 - NYC’s first supermodel died alone in an insane asylum - Lifestyle, Culture and Arts
Munson was introduced to Vienna-born sculpture artist Isidore Konti and quickly became an in-demand figure model.
Photo: Wikipedia Commons/Archives of American Art


Either way, Munson was introduced to artist Isidore Konti, and she quickly became an in-demand figure model. Although the jobs required nudity, neither Munson nor her mother, hard up for money, objected.

Her new fame led to an acting contract. The 1915 silent movie “Inspiration” found Munson stripping down on camera — the first time nudity was shown in a non-pornographic film. She appeared in more pictures and was making “lots of money,” which her estranged father complained she was spending “like water.”

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« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2016, 02:50:35 AM »

In 1919, it all collapsed when Munson became entangled in a sensational criminal case. Her former landlord, Dr. Walter Keene Wilkins, was arrested in the murder of his wife. Wilkins claimed she had been killed by burglars, but police discovered holes in his story.

The motive, police claimed, was that Wilkins was desperate to marry Munson, with whom he’d become obsessed after she lived at his property on West 65th Street.

Wilkins was found guilty and sentenced to death. The resulting publicity ruined Munson’s career, and she later moved to small-town Mexico, NY, where her mother sold silverware door to door to support them.

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« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2016, 02:51:14 AM »

She began acting more erratically, reportedly calling herself “Baroness Audrey Meri Munson-Monson,” and in 1922 she attempted suicide by OD’ing on mercury bichloride pills.

She recovered, but in 1931 was committed to an asylum in Ogdensburg, NY. The model lived there until her death in 1996 at age 104. All but forgotten, she was buried in an unmarked grave.

“What becomes of the artists’ models?” Munson wrote in a 1921 newspaper column. “I am wondering if many of my readers have not stood before a masterpiece of lovely sculpture . . . and asked themselves the question, ‘Where is she now, this model who was so beautiful?’ ”

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