Dr. Madelaine Paschal
Webster defines the word beautiful as ‘delighting the aesthetic senses.’ God, on the other hand, admires the unfading beauty of a gentle spirit. Personally, I vote for God. But both definitions describe someone I know. A gentle spirit of a woman…an exceptional woman…a beautiful woman. Her name is Jessica Ford Marek, 82 years old, living in Sun Lakes! She was one of the first super models in the world!
As hemlines meandered, hourglass figures were kept intact by bullet bras and waist cinchers, crinolines lifted the full circle skirts and stiletto heels and silk hose became the norm. American girls dreamed about French designers…Dior, Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent, and their wardrobes were captured in dreams and in magazines, unless your name was Jessica Ford. In fact, the fashion industry which bloomed in the ‘50s soaring into the ‘60s, pronounced the fashion world timeless in beauty, needing fresh faces, for the ever-growing fashion industry. And Jessica Ford was it! Jessica led every story in every magazine from Vogue and Harper’s Bizarre, to the Sears-Roebuck catalog, every television commercial, and the showgirl on the famous Sixty-four Thousand Dollar Question. She was every woman’s ideal and every man’s dream. Her face was more famous than movie stars and quickly became a world phenomenon. She alone created the look of loving the camera, and it loved her back in every shot, thousands of them.
As luck would have it, Jessica didn’t win her one and only beauty contest, Miss Rheingold (beer), but rather came in a distant sixth. Jessica didn’t want her career to stop with one contest, and “it would have” she explained. “I intended to expand my horizons. Many beauty contestants were one-shot wonders, never making it out of the banner and crown. I knew I could go further, so I wasn’t disappointed at not winning. In fact, I was discovered soon after, and my career took off. I was lucky.”
Jessica met and married into the fashion industry, a world champion hockey player who had defected from Communist Czechoslovakia, a man who would become famous in dress manufacturing and fabric designs. Jessica would live in the Hamptons, raise a family, have a condo next door to Woody Allen and be the choice of every fashion house photographer worldwide.
Now, as I listen to her soft voice describing her Cinderella-charmed life, I realize that Jessica is the history of fashion in America. “I have to tell you, however, I got tired and my career took a toll. I was modeling winter clothes in the heat of summer and summer clothes in winter. Once on a shoot in Europe, in a new World’s Fair building with no heat, I became ill. Of course, I got to fly to exotic islands for bathing suit shots so that made up for conditions in Paris.”
Jessica still has ‘it’ you know. As I stare at the face that launched dreams, sold hats, sheathes, bikinis, stilettos and diamonds, I am amazed and honored to be sitting here in her antiqued living room where the past and the present come together. You see, the world was her oyster…and she was its pearl. Jessica, you are beautiful!