Doe Avedon

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Doe Avedon
Dorcas Marie Nowell

(1925-04-07)April 7, 1925
DiedDecember 18, 2011(2011-12-18) (aged 86)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park
Other namesBetty Harper
Doe Avedon Siegel
OccupationModel, actress
Richard Avedon
(m. 1944; div. 1949)

Don Mathews
(m. 1949; died 1952)

Don Siegel
(m. 1957; div. 1975)
Partner(s)Michael Liscio

Doe Avedon (born Dorcas Marie Nowell; April 7, 1925 – December 18, 2011) was an American model and stage, film and television actress.

Early life[edit]

Doe Avedon was born Dorcas Marie Nowell in Old Westbury, New York, Long Island on April 7, 1925. Her mother died when she was three years old after which she was raised by her father who worked as a butler. At 12 years old her father died; she was raised by the wealthy family for whom her father had worked.[1]


At the age of 19, she began working at a bank in New York City. It was there that she met up and coming photographer Richard Avedon. They were married in 1944 and Avedon set about making his new wife a top model.[2] He also changed her name from "Dorcas" to "Doe" because he felt her wide set, brown eyes looked like those of doe.[3] While Avedon appeared in numerous photographs shot by her husband, she did not enjoy modeling and turned to acting in the late-1940s.[4] In 1948, she made her Broadway debut in The Young and Fair. The following year, she cast in My Name Is Aquilon, starring Jean-Pierre Aumont and Arlene Francis.[5] That same year, she made her film debut (under the name "Betty Harper") in the 1949 film noir Jigsaw.[2]

Later that same year, Avedon divorced Richard to marry actor Dan Matthews whom she met while she was performing in the touring production of Mae West's Diamond Lil.[3] She retired from acting shortly thereafter.[2] In February 1952, Avedon was driving with Matthews from New York City to Los Angeles when their car hit a patch of ice, skidded and overturned. Avedon suffered minor injuries but Matthews was killed.[4][6] After her husband's death, Avedon returned to acting.[4]

In 1954, she appeared in The High and the Mighty starring John Wayne, followed by a supporting role in the biographical film Deep in My Heart.[3] From 1955 to 1956, she appeared in the recurring role of Diane Walker on the drama series Big Town. In 1957, Avedon was cast as "Mike McCall", one of the three lead roles in the syndicated sitcom How to Marry a Millionaire, which was based on the 1953 film of the same name that starred Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe and Lauren Bacall. After filming the pilot episode in the spring of 1957, Avedon's part was recast.[7]

In 1957, Avedon married director Don Siegel. After her marriage, she retired to raise the couple's four children. Avedon and Siegel were divorced in 1975. She briefly returned to acting in 1984 with a role in John Cassavetes' Love Streams.[5]


On December 18, 2011, Avedon died of pneumonia at the Encino Hospital Medical Center in Encino at the age of 86.[8] Her funeral was held on December 22 at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, where she is interred.[5]

In popular culture[edit]

The 1957 film Funny Face is based on the story of Doe and Richard Avedon. Audrey Hepburn portrayed "Jo" who is based on Doe while the character of Dick Avery, portrayed by Fred Astaire, is based on Richard Avedon. The film was written by Leonard Gershe who was a friend of the couple.[5]


Date Production Role
November 22, 1948 – January 8, 1949 The Young and Fair Drucilla Eldridge
February 9 – March 7, 1949 My Name Is Aquilon Denise


Year Title Role Notes
1949 Jigsaw Caroline Riggs Credited as Betty Harper
Alternative title: Gun Moll
1949 The Philco Television Playhouse Laurette Harrington Episode: "What Makes Sammy Run?"
1954 The High and the Mighty Miss Spalding
1954 The Public Defender Patricia Selby Episode: "Confession of Guilt"
1954 Deep in My Heart Lillian Harris Romberg
1955-1956 Big Town Diane Walker 12 episodes
1956 NBC Matinee Theater Episode: "Three for the Money"
1956 The Boss Elsie Reynolds
1957 How to Marry a Millionaire Mike McCall Unaired pilot[9]
1957 The Ford Television Theatre Ruth Harding Episode: "The Idea Man"
1958 Alcoa Theatre Ruth Episode: "The Victim"
1958 Climax! Alice Peters Episode: "Albert Anastasia - His Life and Death"
1984 Love Streams Mrs. Kiner (final film role)


  1. ^ Vallance, Tom (December 31, 2011). "Doe Avedon: Actress and model who inspired the film 'Funny Face'". Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "Doe Avedon, Fashion Model and Actress, Dies at 86". New York Times. December 23, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c Bergan, Ronald (December 26, 2011). "Doe Avedon obituary".
  4. ^ a b c Mosby, Aline (October 5, 1953). "New Actress Will Be Laughing To Cover Up Tears In Debut". The Tuscaloosa News. Tuscaloosa, Alabama. p. 5. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d Barnes, Mike (December 20, 2011). "Doe Avedon, Actress and Wife of Director Don Siegel, Dies at 86". Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  6. ^ Parsons, Louella O. (May 19, 1954). "They Are All Asking Who Played Hostess?". Ottawa Citizen. Ottawa, Canada. p. 33. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  7. ^ Tucker, David C. (2010). Lost Laughs of '50S and '60S Television: Thirty Sitcoms That Faded Off Screen. McFarland. p. 64. ISBN 0-786-45582-9.
  8. ^ "Passings: Doe Avedon Siegel, Dan Frazer". December 23, 2011. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  9. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2013). Encyclopedia of Television Pilots, 1937-2012. McFarland. p. 130. ISBN 1-476-60249-2.

External links[edit]