Meta Description: Many beautiful and glamorous models from the 1940s turned heads with their iconic modeling and acting careers. Read on to find out who the top 5 were.

Lisa Fonssagrives

Lisa Fonssagrives was the epitome of style, refinement, and elegance. She was beautiful, intellectual, and sophisticated. She was the most sought-after model in beauty photography history, generating most of the unforgettable photographs of all time, from Blumenfeld’s lady clinging perilously from the Eiffel Tower to Penn’s mermaid in a Rochas gown. Lisa Fonssagrives had been a genius, a changeable person who cooperated with the best fashion photographers of the past three decades, including Hoyningen-Huene, Horst, Blumenfeld, Richard Avedon, and her spouse, Irving Penn, to create many of the genre’s iconic masterpieces. David Seidner is well known for his image restoration mastery and has collected together some of the modern time’s most recognized images and an uncovered library of photographs, most of which were Lisa Fonssagrives herself. Lisa Fonssagrives delivers a magnificent and important introduction to the century’s Great Era of photography through the image of the most fascinating and iconic symbol, with historical analysis by the acclaimed photograph-historian Martin Harrison.

Jinx Falkenburg

Eugenia Lincoln “Jinx” Falkenburg was a great tennis player, swimmer, and actor. During the 1940s, she was among the most popular cover models in the United States. After being featured in The American Publication in 1937, her modeling profession took off. Falkenburg’s face appeared in more than 250 fashion magazines and approximately 1,500 business commercials. Unfortunately, on one of her luxurious vacations, she fell from the balcony of a Hawaii resort in 1940 and dropped 30 feet down on a dining table. But we should say this was a blessing in disguise because it was during her healing journey that she met the famous Al Jolson. Jolson, an iconic musician at the time, gave her a position in his planned Broadway play Hold On to Your Hats, which premiered in January 1940. Jinx’s career took the high road as fans congregated weekly at her Shubert Theater changing room doorway, establishing the foundation of what became a countrywide “Jinx Falkenburg Fan Club.” She appeared in a dozen films, mostly for Columbia Records and sometimes as the lead.

Dorian Leigh

Dorian Leigh is regarded as the first fashion model. Her appearance and style shaped the 1940s modeling industry. She was Truman Capote’s companion and the basis for Breakfast at Tiffany’s protagonist Holly Golightly. The highlight of her modeling career was sparked when she first made the cover page of Harper’s Bazaar in 1944 when she was just 27 years old. Later, in 1946 she appeared on eight Vogue covers, and over the next seven years, she was on over 50 covers of magazines like McCall’s, Life, and Look. In the post-war era, fashion publications’ circulation expanded beyond the super-rich, and supermodels became well-known as film stars. Leigh’s blue-eyed attractiveness and alluring smile were the icings to her wild lifestyle and arrogant bravado. She featured in two French movies and was the main lead in The Fifth Season on Broadway. Her relationships with celebrities kept her on the front covers. She traveled to Paris, aged 40, where she co-founded France’s first fashion company with Eileen Ford.

Bettina Graziani

Among the world’s earliest supermodels was Bettina Graziani, who unfortunately died at the age of 89. She worked as a supermodel for Chanel, Grès, and in the 1940s and 1950s, although she gracefully declined a chance with Christian Dior. Her conceptual cheekbones, fountain pen shape, and predatory eyes were a fashion staple at the time. Her image was valuably held high that she eventually created her line of knits with the label Bettina. Graziani traveled to Paris following the liberation of 1944, intending to establish a profession as a qualified designer. She contacted the renowned fashion designer Jacques Costet, who was delighted with several of her designs and eventually hired her as a residential mannequin. She served as a photo mannequin and a model in design houses’ observation rooms. Later in life, she attended every season’s Paris beauty shows, supporting the projects of designers like Yohji Yamomoto and Azzedine Alaia.

Bette Davis

LIFE magazine featured Bette Davis on its page in 1939, defining her presentation in Of Human Bondage as “possibly the best presentation ever documented on display by a U.S. performer.” Davis was distinctive in both her looks (those eyes) and her recognizable, unparalleled “compressive” acting. She became the first woman in history to obtain ten professional Academy Award nominations for acting. Bette Davis was a captivating talent who helped define what it implied to be a movie star during the Golden Era of Filmmaking. LIFE’s cover article in 1939 depicted the performer as a surprisingly grounded, if highly driven, artist rather than a raging prima donna.

Final Thoughts

These top 5 models starred in their era as iconic women in the fashion and modeling industry. They showcased their beauty wrapped up in passion and ambition for great success.