| Dovima was born Dorothy Virginia Margaret Juba in 1927 in New York
City. The half-Polish, half-Irish daughter of Stanley Juba, she was raised
in Jackson Heights, Queens. She contracted rheumatic fever at age ten
and was confined to bed. The standard treatment was a year in bed, but
her overprotective mother kept her home for the next seven years. It was
a lonely time for her. She took up painting and had an imaginary friend,
whom she called Dovima- using the first two letters of each of her given
names. Doe, as her family called her, only socialized by telephone with
other invalid children that her tutor educated. It's not too surprising
then that her first husband, Jack Golden, was an upstairs neighbor. He
simply moved into Doe's bedroom in her family's home.
Dovima was discovered while waiting for a friend outside of a Manhattan Automat (although there are conflicting stories about the location). A woman approached Doe to ask if she had ever modeled. The woman worked for Vogue and took her to the offices on the spot for some test shots. The next day she did a shoot with Irving Penn. She was an overnight success and soon was the highest paid model in the business. Jerry Ford of Ford Models said, "She was the super-sophisticated model in a sophisticated time, definitely not the girl next door."
|She appeared on the covers of all the fashion magazines and worked with every major photographer of the day. She formed a particular bond with Richard Avedon who would take the most famous photos of Dovima. The two managed to transform Doe into the epitome of fifties haute couture, what Christian Dior coined "The New Look". After her death, Richard Avedon said, "She was the last of the great elegant, aristocratic beauties...the most remarkable and unconventional beauty of her time." On another occasion, Avedon said, "The ideal of beauty then was the opposite of what it is now. It stood for an extension of the aristocratic view of women as ideals, of women as dreams, of women as almost surreal objects. Dovima fit that in her proportions."|
|Dovima and Avedon created arguably the most famous fashion photograph
of all time, "Dovima with Elephants", in Paris in 1955. The photo shows
Dovima in haute couture with circus elephants surrounding her. There
are prints in The Metropolitan Museum, and The Museum of Modern Art.
Of her relationship with Avedon, Dovima was quoted as saying, "We became like mental Siamese twins, with me knowing what he wanted before he explained it. He asked me to do extraordinary things, but I always knew I was going to be part of a great picture." Dorian Leigh, fashions model turned agent, said, "He used Dovima like a painter uses a medium. She was his medium." Model Carmen Dell'Orefice a friend of Dovima said, "They had the greatest fantasy affair on paper that the public ever witnessed. Avedon had the skill to metamorphose a fledgling model. He could finish the pieces of her persona."