Jean Patchett’s features, delightful as they were, were not responsible for making her the most sought after, the busiest, and the most successful photographic model in New York in the 40’s & 50’s. Jean was a highly paid models because of a blemish. She had a mole next to her right eye which she darkened with an eyebrow pencil to make it more prominent. For the mole became her trademark. Manufacturers of every product from toothpaste to fashions, and jewelry to luxury cars insisted on having the girl with the mole in their advertisements. The same happened to Cindy Crawford in the 90’s.
“Photographers used to retouch the pictures they made of me very carefully, to remove the mole,” Jean said. “It used to make me angry, so out of defiance, I began to darken it with eyebrow pencil. Then one photographer left it alone and the
advertising people started asking for me. That’s how it all began.”
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Jean Patchett’s pictures are encyclopedic.
In 1951 Jean married boyfriend/fiancé Louis Auer, a Yale-educated banker, whom she had met in 1948. She didn’t stop working, what married women did mostly in those days, but she refused to work before 10 am or after 4:30 pm because she liked to cook meals for herself and her husband. She worked 3 ½ days a week.
Jean is seen in eighteen of Vogue’s 20 issues in 1953 and constantly in the advertisements (for Bergdorf Goodman, Henri Bendel, Hattie Carnegie, and Revlon, among others). The next year she appears on the cover of Popular Photography magazine alongside “The Four Most Expensive Models in the World!”—Dovima, Evelyn Tripp, and Barbara Mullen.
In 1960 she retires to raise son Bart and daughter Amy. After they left home, Jean occasionally modelled again.
Jean Patchett dies from emphysema at 75, in 2002. In her New York Times obituary, she is remembered by Irving Penn as “a young American goddess in Paris couture.”
The story behind a famous photograph
For the April 1, 1950 issue of Vogue, Jean travelled to Cuba. She met Ernest Hemingway, sat with him, and talked for hours. During their time, Hemingway kept her wine glass full. In proper etiquette, Patchett could not refuse her host. By the end of their interview, Jean reported: I could barely walk and had a headache the next day. No need to be precious, dear.
They met at his Cuban ranch and the shot was captured by fashion photographer Clifford Coffin. At Hemingway’s feet lays his beloved Black Dog and his hand rests on Ecstacy, one of his eleven cats. Jean sits, reserved, holding Boise. Hemingway elected to go shirtless and shoeless for the interview and photo shoot and Jean commented that Mr. Hemingway smelled bad.
We’re guessing Hemingway was enjoying a daiquiri, a favorite of Papa’s (his rumored go-to, the mojito, was not his drink of choice according to Philip Greene’s recent book). The tension between the two is palpable and Hemingway appears completely in control of his domain. Although Hemingway is iconic in many realms, this shot captures the essence of summer—craft cocktails, casual conversation, international models, slow days, Cuban ranches.
The Television Braodcast
Jean was featured on CBS Television on Edward R. Murrow’s show Person to Person on January 28, 1955. In Mr. Murrow’s introduction he said: “Jean Patchett has been the most sought after model for nearly seven years now.” Jean and husband Louis Auer V were broadcast live from their home in the relaxed style of Mr. Murrow’s TV journalism.
.Info: http://jeanpatchett.com/ & Wikipedia .