To borrow an expression from H.M. The Queen, 2016 has been an ‘annus horribilis‘, and the LGBT community in particular has said goodbye to so many icons/allies/friends that the deaths of some of the less famous ones are sidelined and almost over-looked. queerguru wants to honor a couple of amazing women from totally different walks of life, whose passings may have may not have made the front pages as they so deserved.
Legendary model and fashion editor China Machado who died last week aged 86 had a life that is the stuff that Hollywood movies are made off. Born in Shanghai to a Chinese mother and a Portuguese father, her family traveled to Argentina, Peru. and Spain. She ran off with a famous bullfighter when she was just 19 years ago, and when that relationship ended Machado moved to Paris and immediately got a job modeling for Givenchy, and within 3 years was the highest paid runway model in Europe.
Marriage took her back to NY where Diana Vreeland introduced her to Richard Avedon and he adopted her as his muse (The picture above is one of his most famous ones of Machado). In 1959 she became the first non-caucasian model to be featured in Harpers Bazaar which only happened after Avedon threatened to quit.
She later became Harper’s Bazaar’s Senior Fashion Editor where, and then its Fashion Director and in 1989, she was added to the International Best Dressed List. Machado had an incredible presence as well as a fabulous sense, and a wonderful sense of humor too as seen in these two clips . The one above is from the HBO documentary ‘About Face’ in which Machado starred in with other older supermodels, and the one below is an interview she gave to Salon.
Liz Smith who died aged 95 years on Christmas Eve was a much beloved British character actress, who didn’t start her chosen career until she was 49 years old when she landed a part in a Mike Leigh movie, who in a glowing tribute last week called Smith ‘a charming eccentric.’ Immensely popular especially amongst the LGBT community as she was unwittingly camp in most of the roles she played such as Mrs Brandon in the 1970 TV Series I Didn’t Know You Cared to the batty Letitia Cropley in the 1990’s TV series The Vicar of Dibley.
It was however her performance as Nana in the award-winning bizarre British TV series The Royle Family that sealed her reputation and made Liz Smith a household name and earned her status as a gay icon. Check out the delicious video below when Nana suddenly learns about gay men …….