Peggy Ann Freeman, better known as Donyale Luna (1945-1979),was a woman way before her time. Although she was described as weird and difficult, she was extremely talented. Luna broke racial barriers in an almost all white model industry when discovered by photographer David McCabe.
In 1965, a sketch of Donayale was featured on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar and a year later she became the first African American model to cover British Vogue‘s March 1966 issue. A 1968 Time article titled “The Luna Year” described her as “a new heavenly body who, because of her striking singularity, promises to remain on high for many a season.” Luna also appeared in a nude photo layout in the April 1975 issue of Playboy.
Luna appeared in several underground films including Andy Warhol‘s Screen Test: Donyale Luna, Skidoo and an Italian film Salomé. But as talented as Donayale was she struggled with drug use. Unfortunately in 1979 drug abuse led to her demise and she died due to an accidental overdoes in Rome.
Donayale’s story is tragic, but she will always be remembered for overcoming the prejudices of the modeling industry and paving the way for many African American models that would follow in her footsteps.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia