Colleen Corby, Model Icon in a more Innocent Time

9 Aug

Colleen Corby

During the 1960s women’s clothing fashions assumed a more significant role in American society than ever before. Reflecting the shifting political culture of the time, the styles were more rebellious than the rigid designs of the 1950s.

“Hippies,” college-aged youth bent on making a political statement, favored relaxed, comfortable and natural clothing such as blue jeans and tie-dyed T-shirts. More acceptable, were “modern” fashions characterized by bright colored bellbottoms, revealing mini-skirts, and hyper tailored designs.

Models who advertised the new fashions were young and appealed to a youth-driven Baby Boom generation. Among them was Colleen Corby, who became a cultural icon among the teen girl crowd.

One of the first young models to capitalize on the sensual look while retaining an innocent sweetness, Corby graced the cover of “Seventeen Magazine” an unprecedented 15 times during the decade. She also appeared on the covers of “American Girl,” “Teen Magazine,” “Ingenue,” “Co-Ed,” “Glamour” and “Mademoiselle” and modeled for “Simplicity,” “McCalls,” and “Butterick” sewing patterns.

Colleen Corby

Short Biography

Born on Aug. 3, 1947, in Wilkes-Barre, Colleen Corby was the eldest daughter of Peggy and Robert Corby, a public relations executive. She was raised nearby in Luzerne, where she led a “nice, normal childhood.

“There was really nothing extraordinary about my childhood,” Corby recalled in an interview. “Just like all the other kids, I walked to school, came home for lunch and played outside after school.”

The only exception to the “normalcy” was modeling. As a child, Corby began posing for the Boston Store in Wilkes-Barre, usually doing back-to-school advertisements. Her career took off when the family moved to New York City in 1958. Two weeks after walking into Eileen Ford’s modeling agency (supposedly to look for a summer job), Corby was sent on her first modeling assignment, a cover shoot for “Girl Scout Equipment” magazine.


By the end of the summer the assignments were coming so steadily that her parents enrolled her in Manhattan’s Professional Children’s School, which allowed for the irregular schedules of actors and models.

With her dark brown hair, glowing skin and piercing, green eyes, Colleen attracted the attention of several teen magazine editors and posed for the covers of the “Girl Scout Magazine,” “American Girl,” “Teen,” and “Co-ed.” She was already an experienced model by age 16 when she first appeared on the cover of “Seventeen” in April 1963.

“Seventeen” was a magazine that helped to shape teenage life in America by running music and movie reviews, identifying social issues and celebrating icons of popular culture.

Colleen Corby on Seventeen Magazine cover

Colleen Corby on Seventeen Magazine cover

Colleen Corby on Seventeen Magazine cover

During the 1960s, the magazine was also becoming a major influence in defining notions of beauty and style among adolescent females. Girls combed its pages, choosing their favorite brunette and blond models – Terry Reno, Joan Delaney, Rinske Hali, Wendy Hill, Jennifer O’Neil, and, of course, Colleen Corby – usually depending on their own coloring. 

At 5 feet 7 inches and just 107 pounds, Colleen was more petite than some of the other regular “Seventeen” models, but her alluring combination of unmistakable innocence and tempered boldness made her an ideal cover girl for the magazine. During the 1960s, Corby’s image appeared on the cover an unprecedented 15 times (five times in 1964 alone), and seemed to be on every other page. As a result, she became a hero for a whole generation of 13- to 18-year old girls.

In a profession filled with sensitive egos, Corby was somehow able to bond with a fairly small group of models who appeared together in the ads and editorial pages for “Seventeen.” They played off one another so smoothly that Corby was comfortable taking center stage or complimenting the lead of another model.

Model Sisters Molly and Colleen CorbyModel Sisters Colleen & Molly Corby

Unlike today’s supermodels, Corby lived quietly in a Manhattan apartment with her businessman father, stay-at-home mother and little sister, Molly, who was also a model. Between modeling assignments, she spent time doing homework, listening to Andy Williams records and answering her considerable fan mail.

“To be honest, modelling was just a job like any other job,” said Corby. “I didn’t get carried away with it because my family kept me grounded. Though we lived in New York City, my parents’ value system was shaped by the Wyoming Valley. They stressed hard work, doing one’s best and maintaining a sense of humility.”


Teen Magazine  1963

Colleen Corby in Seventeen Magazine 1965

Colleen Corby in Pierre Balmain Marie Claire France September 1965

1967 Colleen Corby

Colleen Corby

Colleen Corby

During the mid-1960s, Corby’s popularity was at its peak. She had blossomed into a wholesome young woman whose 32-23-33 measurements attracted a new, adolescent male audience. Her image seemed to be everywhere: TV commercials, magazines and catalogs.

Naturally comfortable before a camera, Corby signed a multi-year movie contract with Universal Pictures. “Acting wasn’t really something I wanted to do,” she admitted. “As a model I had to take acting lessons and I was offered the contract. But I never actively pursued it”

By the 1970s, Corby’s teen market had vanished, but she continued to appear in magazines like “Glamour” and “Mademoiselle.” She was also a fixture in the catalogs of major retailers like Sears and JCPenney.


colleen corby



Colleen Corby


Sears 1971


Corby retired from modeling in 1979 after her marriage only to return briefly to the profession in the early 1980s. After giving birth to two sons – Alexander and Christopher – she left New York and the fashion world for good and turned her full attention to raising a family.

“I had no regrets about walking away,” said Corby. “I wanted to get married and to have children, and you can’t really raise a family and be a full-time professional model. Besides, I was always very busy doing a lot of volunteer work at my sons’ schools.” Corby’s last public appearance came in 2000 on the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” though she had some initial reservations. “I had put the modeling career in the past, and I really didn’t want to do the show,” said Corby. “But Oprah’s producers kept calling me, and many of my friends encouraged me to do it.

“As it turned out, the appearance was a very pleasant experience. I enjoyed meeting Oprah and was flattered to find out that I was her favorite model as a child. Apparently, she even papered her bedroom walls with some of the covers I did for ‘Seventeen.’

Corby, now age 68, believes she was fortunate to have been a fashion model in the 1960s. “It was a very different industry than it is today,” she said. “You didn’t have the same pressures (i.e., short deadlines, intense competition, anorexia, designer drugs) that now exist. We were very protected, especially working for ‘Seventeen Magazine.’ The Ford agency was also very careful with young models. It was just a more innocent time.” That innocence can still be found in the smiling face of an 11-year-old Corby who appeared on the cover of “Girl Scout Magazine” 50 years ago.


Colleen Corby




Written by William Kashatus 


6 Responses to “Colleen Corby, Model Icon in a more Innocent Time”

  1. fabrickated 9 August 2015 at 21:04 #

    What an interesting post, and what a beautiful young woman. Amazing eyes.

  2. G G Collins, Author & Journalist 30 November 2015 at 02:26 #

    Corby was my favorite too. Good interview.

  3. Cheri 3 December 2017 at 04:29 #

    Colleen was my #1 idol as a teen. Thank you for inspiring me to have a life long love affair with fashion. After raising children through college, at 62, I opened my “pipe dream” consignment shop! My grandaughters love it!

  4. Lani Hawaii 9 August 2019 at 11:37 #

    Wow! At 70 years old, I finally found who this pretty girl was in the Sears and Pennys Catalogs in my youth! (She’s one year older than I am) Such a pretty, innocent face… it has haunted me all these decades of who that girl was. I could never be her, but I wanted to be her friend because she looked like a friendly, kind person. Finally, I clicked on some random stuff and found her face. Googled everything about her. How interesting that her face did represent her personality. Thank you for this article

  5. Janet Margaret Dougall 24 March 2023 at 04:09 #

    I used to look at her in Seventeen magazine, and loved the clothes she modeled and her hair styles.


  1. “Late night when you need my love” | Fashion Bloggers And Style - 29 September 2015

    […] Colleen Corby, Model Icon in a more Innocent Time […]

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