Beverly Johnson

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Beverly Johnson
2007 Beverly Johnson.jpg
Johnson in 2007
Beverly Ann Johnson[1][2]

(1952-10-13) October 13, 1952 (age 69)
Alma materNortheastern University
  • Model
  • actress
  • singer
  • businesswoman
Years active1970–present
Known forFirst African-American model on Vogue cover, August 1974[2]
Modeling information
Height5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Hair colorDark brown
Eye colorBrown

Beverly Ann Johnson[1][3] (born October 13, 1952)[4] is an American model, actress, singer, and businesswoman. Johnson rose to fame when she became the first African-American model to appear on the cover of American Vogue in August 1974.[5][6] In 1975, Johnson became the first black woman to appear on the cover of the French edition of Elle.[7] In 2012, Johnson was the star of the reality series Beverly's Full House that aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). The New York Times named Johnson one of the 20th century's most influential people in fashion in 2008.[8]

Early life and career[edit]

Born the first of two children to Gloria Johnson,[9] a surgical technician, Johnson was raised in a middle-class family in Buffalo, New York. During her youth, Johnson was a champion swimmer and aspired to be a lawyer.[4] Johnson attended Bennett High School,[10] graduating in 1969.[1] After high school, Johnson went on to study criminal justice at Northeastern University. While in college, Johnson tried modeling[11] while on summer break in 1971.[4] She quickly landed an assignment with Glamour and began working steadily.[11] She went on to appear on more than 500 magazine covers, including the August 1974 issue of Vogue, becoming the magazine's first African-American cover model.[4] Her appearance on the cover changed the beauty ideal in US fashion, and by 1975, every major American fashion designer had begun using African-American models.[12]

In addition to modeling, Johnson has also written the books, Beverly Johnson's Guide to a Life of Health and Beauty,[13] and True Beauty: Secrets of Radiant Beauty for Women of Every Age and Color.[14] Johnson's acting career[15] consists of roles in the films Ashanti (1979), The Meteor Man (1993), Def Jam's How to Be a Player (1997), and Crossroads (2002). She has appeared in guest spots on 7 television series, including Martin (TV series), Law & Order, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, The Parent 'Hood and the Super Bowl episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun (1998). She served for two seasons as a celebrity judge on the TV Land series She's Got the Look, a reality series, where women aged over 35 compete for a modeling contract and magazine spread. At the start of the series in 2008, Johnson shared that she and other models had suffered from anorexia and bulimia during her career.[16] She had a brief singing career, releasing one album in 1979 on Buddah Records. Johnson has been a longtime hair and beauty influencer.[citation needed]

Memoir and accusation against Bill Cosby[edit]

In late 2014, she wrote an article for Vanity Fair[17] in which she accused Bill Cosby of drugging her in a meeting at his Manhattan residence in the 1980s, although the incident did not result in a sexual assault. Johnson said that Cosby spiked a cup of cappuccino with an unknown drug. As she felt her "body go completely limp," she realized what was happening. Johnson said she then screamed and cursed at him several times before Cosby got angry and dragged her outside and hailed a cab for her. Johnson decided to tell her story in hopes that "by going public" she would "encourage anyone [who] has been sexually victimized to speak out."[18][19] Her memoir, The Face That Changed It All, which discusses the Cosby incident, was released on August 25, 2015.

Subsequently, Cosby started a defamation lawsuit against Johnson, alleging that she was lying about the drugging incident and contending that Johnson's story, first told in the Vanity Fair article, had been repeated in numerous interviews. It seeks unspecified damages and an injunction preventing the model from repeating her claims and requests they be removed from Johnson's memoir.[20] A friend of Johnson said, "She expected this to happen. She didn't seem upset 'with the news', but I think she's prepared to counter-sue."[21] Cosby dropped the lawsuit on February 19, 2016, to devote more time to his criminal case.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Johnson has been married twice. Her first marriage was to real estate agent Billy Potter in 1971, later divorcing in 1974. On May 8, 1977,[23][24] Johnson, then aged 25, married 40-year-old businessman and music producer Danny Sims.[25][26] Johnson gave birth to their daughter, Anansa Sims on December 27, 1978, in New York City.[27][15] Johnson and Sims divorced in 1979. Johnson and actor Chris Noth were in a five-year relationship until 1995.[28]



Year Title Role Notes
1975 Deadly Hero
1977 The Baron Recepcionist
1978 Crisis in Sun Valley Beverly TV Movie
1979 Ashanti Dr. Anansa Linderby
1980 The Sky Is Gray John Lee's Mother TV Movie
1993 Loaded Weapon 1 Doris Luger
The Meteor Man Woman Doctor
The Cover Girl Murders Michaela TV Movie
A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Wicked Wives Jane Marlowe Morrison TV Movie
1994 A Brilliant Disguise Barbara
1995 Ray Alexander: A Menu for Murder Alana Durand TV Movie
1996 Crossworlds The Queen Video
1997 True Vengeance Lt. Kada Wilson Video
Def Jam's How to Be a Player Robin
1998 54 Elaine's Patron
2000 Down 'n Dirty Sandra Collins
2002 Crossroads Kit's Mother


Year Title Role Notes
1990 Hunter Allistar Lang Episode: "This Is My Gun"
1992–1993 Law & Order Marcela Di Portago / Salamotu 2 Episodes
1993 Martin Ms. Trinidad Episode: "Blackboard Jungle Fever"
Out All Night Lorraine Episode: "The Way We Were"
1994 The Mommies Beverly Johnson Episode: "The Exercist"
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Mrs. Cox 2 Episodes
1995 The Wayans Bros. Miss Kita Episode: "I'm Too Sexy for My Brother"
1996 The Parent 'Hood Mrs. Jordan Episode: "I'm O'Tay, You're O-Tay"
Red Shoe Diaries Lorri Episode: "The Forbidden Zone"
1997 Sabrina, the Teenage Witch Fashion Director Episode: "As Westbridge Turns"
1998 3rd Rock from the Sun Prell 2 Episodes
2010 Tyler Perry's Meet The Browns Kate 2 Episodes
2012 Beverly's Full House Herself 8 Episodes



  • Don't Lose The Feeling (1979)


  • "Don't Lose The Feeling" (1979)
  • "Don't Run for a Cover" (1979)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "1969 Bennett High School 200 (Buffalo, New York)". 1969. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "NO 1. Black Model Keeps Her Mind In 'Right' Places". JET Magazine. Johnson Publishing Company. May 8, 1975. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  3. ^ "UNCF Aided By $25Gs From Arthur Ashe Benefit March". JET Magazine. Johnson Publishing Company. November 20, 1975. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d "Johnson, Beverly (1952– )". Retrieved December 11, 2014.
  5. ^ Iconic Cover Girls Archived October 17, 2010, at – Coco & Creme
  6. ^ Sewing, Joy (August 23, 2009), "Beverly Johnson's got the right attitude", The Houston Chronicle. Retrieved August 23, 2009.
  7. ^ Supermodels Encyclopaedia: Beverly Johnson Archived July 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine – Fashion Insider.
  8. ^ Dennis, Alicia Diaz, "Fashion Influential #68: Beverly Johnson", Zimbio, December 11, 2008.
  9. ^ Nikuradse, Tamara (1996). My Mother Had a Dream: African-American Women Share Their Mothers' Words of Wisdom. Dutton. ISBN 9780525941118. Retrieved December 20, 2017. beverly johnson gloria johnson.
  10. ^ "1968 Bennett High School 200 (Buffalo, New York)". 1968. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  11. ^ a b "The Body Game". People. January 11, 1993. Retrieved August 15, 2008.
  12. ^ Gross, Michael (2003). Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women. HarperCollins. p. 239. ISBN 0-06-054163-6.
  13. ^ "Beverly Johnson: Official Biography". Archived from the original on July 30, 2008. Retrieved August 15, 2008.
  14. ^ True Beauty: Secrets of Radiant Beauty for Women of Every Age and Color. ISBN 0446517542.
  15. ^ a b Levitt, Shelley (August 10, 1992). "Like Mother, Like." People. Retrieved August 15, 2008.
  16. ^ Moss, Marilyn (June 2, 2008). "TV Review: She's Got the Look". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on July 16, 2008. Retrieved August 15, 2008.
  17. ^ Johnson, Beverly (November 30, 2014). "Bill Cosby Drugged Me. This Is My Story". Vanity Fair. Retrieved January 4, 2016.
  18. ^ Leopold, Todd (December 13, 2014). "Famed model Beverly Johnson says Bill Cosby drugged her". CNN.
  19. ^ Ellis, Ralph (December 22, 2015). "Bill Cosby sues supermodel Beverly Johnson for defamation". CNN. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
  20. ^ "Bill Cosby sues model Beverly Johnson over drugging claim". FOX 23. December 21, 2015. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  21. ^ Greer, Carlos (December 22, 2015). "Beverly Johnson isn't surprised Bill Cosby is suing her". Page Six. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  22. ^ "Cosby drops defamation case against model Beverly Johnson". Fox News Channel. February 25, 2016. Retrieved February 25, 2016.
  23. ^ Wohlfert, Lee (October 10, 1977). "Model Beverly Johnson Weds Businessman Danny Sims and Gets a Svengali in the Bargain". People. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  24. ^ Kisner, Ronald E. (June 2, 1977). "Beverly Returns To Buffalo: City Hall Opens On Sunday So Top Model Can Marry". JET Magazine. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  25. ^ Kenner, Rob (October 30, 2012). "Danny Sims, Producer Who Signed Bob Marley, Dies at 75". The New York Times. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  26. ^ Salewicz, Chris (October 14, 2012). "Danny Sims: Impresario with Mob connections who managed Bob Marley early in his career". The Independent. Independent UK. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  27. ^ Johnson, Beverly (2012). The Face That Changed It All: A Memoir. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781476774435. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  28. ^ People Staff (June 1, 2001). "Chris Noth (mr. Big)". People.

External links[edit]