If the story of Dorcas Nowell -- and her rise from a Long Island office worker in the 1940s to a famous fashion model and celebrity -- sounds like a Hollywood production, that's because it actually was: Dorcas, a part-time model, caught the eye of famed fashion photographer Richard Avedon, changed her name to Doe Avedon after marriage, and their whirlwind romance wound up being the basis of 'Funny Face,' the 1957 film with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. Doe Avedon passed away on Sunday at the age of 86, following complications from pneumonia.
Doe and Richard were only married for five years, but that was enough time for her to transform into an actress on stage, film and television. In addition to a recurring role in the 1950s television series 'Big Town,' Avedon also appeared in 'The High and the Mighty' opposite John Wayne, as well as 'Love Streams' for director John Cassavetes.

As for 'Funny Face,' her friend Leonard Gershe wrote the 1957 film musical, which told the story of a famous fashion photographer named Dick Avery (Astaire), who falls in love with a Greenwich Village bookshop salesgirl (Hepburn) and turns her into a world-renowned fashion model. (Before meeting Richard, Doe would work in office jobs because it gave her more time to read.) Directed by Stanley Donen ('Singin' in the Rain'), 'Funny Face' was actually also adapted from Gershe's less successful musical, 'Wedding Bells.' To this day, it perhaps remains most famous for the scene where Audrey Hepburn dances, which was later co-opted for a Gap commercial in 2006.

Doe Avedon is survived by four children, all from her marriage to director Don Siegel ('Dirty Harry'), a stepson, seven grandchildren, five great grandchildren and her longtime companion, actor Michael Lisco.

[via NYT, THR]

[Photo: Everett]

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