In 1932, artist Lester Gaba created a mannequin known as Cynthia for Saks Fifth Avenue. Cynthia was a 100-pound model and had life-like imperfections like freckles, pigeon toes, and even different sized feet.
Thanks to a spread in LIFE Magazine, she became almost instantly famous.
Cartier and Tiffany sent her jewelry, Lilly Daché designed hats for her, and couturiers sent her their latest fashions, furrieries sent minks.
She was even given a credit card from Saks Fifth Avenue, a box seat subscription to the Metropolitan Opera House and made the cover of Life Magazine.
Cynthia had her own newspaper column, and a successful radio show(Lester’s voice). She went to Hollywood to appear in Artist And Models Abroad with Jack Benny, in 1938 and was photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt.
She was invited to the royal wedding of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson in 1937.
After reaching a certain level of fame, gossip columnists actually began to write about Cynthia as if she were a real socialite making the rounds at parties around New York.
When people tried to talk with Cynthia, Baba claimed that she was ‘suffering from a touch of laryngitis’.
She was so realistic looking that in these photos she just looks like a classy little lady.
Cynthia got tons of fan mail.
She became one of the most recognized faces in fashion.
She was absolutely incredibly made.
Lester and Cynthia out for an evening.
I bet she got along with everyone she met ;-)
‘Cynthia met her demise when she slipped from a chair in a beauty salon and shattered. The press reported her death, and Gaba appeared distraught, but eventually reconstructed her. In December 1942, Gaba was inducted into the army. Cynthia retired, and it wasn’t until 1953 that she came back to the public in a TV show, but the magic was over’
What an amazing story of Lester and Cynthia and the world’s reaction to it all. Bizarre but wonderful in its way.