Janice Dickinson

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Janice Dickinson
Janice Dickinson 2014.jpg
Dickinson in 2014.
Born Janice Doreen Dickinson
(1955-02-15) February 15, 1955 (age 61)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Nationality American
Occupation Model, photographer, author, talent agent
Years active 1972–present
Spouse(s) Ron Levy
Simon Fields
Alan B. Gersten (a.k.a. Albert Gerston)
Children 2
Relatives Debbie Dickinson (sister)
Modeling information
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)[1]
Hair color Dark Brown[1]
Eye color Brown

Janice Doreen Dickinson (born February 15, 1955)[3] is an American model, photographer, author and talent agent. Initially notable as a model, she has been disputably described by herself and others[4] as the first supermodel.[5] One of the most successful models throughout the 1970s and 1980s, she expanded her profession to reality television in 2003 by judging for four cycles on America's Next Top Model. She subsequently opened her own modeling agency in 2005, which was documented in the reality-television series The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency (2006–08).

Early life[edit]

Dickinson was born in Brooklyn, New York,[3] the middle daughter of Jennie Marie (née Pietrzykowski) and Ray Dickinson.[6] Her mother was of Polish descent[6] and her father was of Scottish and Irish ancestry.[7]

She was raised in Hollywood, Florida with her elder sister, Alexis, who became a real estate agent, and her younger sister, Debbie, who also became a model.[8][9]

Dickinson has been open about the emotional and physical abuse she suffered as a child and teenager,[5][8][10] and how her father used to sexually abuse one of her sisters. Of her childhood with her "rageoholic pedophile" of a father, Dickinson stated, "Because I wouldn't give in and let him have sex with me, I was verbally and physically abused on a daily basis. I was told that I looked like a boy and wouldn't amount to anything. I think if you abuse a child, your balls should be cut off. You should be castrated immediately."[10]



In the early 1970s, Dickinson moved to New York City to pursue work as a model after winning a national competition called "Miss High Fashion Model."[9][11] At a time when blue-eyed blondes dominated the fashion scene,[12] Dickinson was turned down several times by modeling agents, including Eileen Ford, who informed Dickinson she was "much too ethnic. You'll never work."[11]

She was discovered by the fashion photographer Jacques Silberstein when his girlfriend, actress Lorraine Bracco, mentioned she liked Dickinson's look.[13][14] Wilhelmina Cooper became Dickinson's first agent. Her modeling pursuits led her to Paris, France, where her "exotic looks" secured her reputation within the European fashion industry.[11]

She returned to New York City in 1978, and spent the next several years working steadily, earning $2,000 per day, nearly four times the standard rate.[11] Dickinson eventually signed with Ford Models to land a major ad campaign for a new JVC camera.[15] Dickinson, who had not forgotten Ford's initial rejection, was intent on revenge.[15] She soon became one of twenty Ford models to defect to John Casablancas's upstart Elite Model Management.[16]

By the 1980s, Dickinson was considered a supermodel, as she "possessed the kind of name and face recognition" that the majority of women in the modeling industry strive to achieve.[9] She appeared within and on covers of magazines including Harper's Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Photo, Vogue, Marie Claire, and Playboy, and worked with some of fashion's best-known names, including Bill Blass, Gianni Versace, Valentino Garavani, Azzedine Alaïa, Pino Lancetti, Halston, Oscar de la Renta and Calvin Klein.[17] She has appeared on the cover of Vogue (both American and international editions) 37 times.[8] She appeared on the cover of Elle seven times in a row and has been the face of ad campaigns for products including Revlon, Alberto VO5, Balmain, Obao, Christian Dior, Clairol, Hush Puppies, Orbit gum, Max Factor, Virginia Slims, and Cutex.[12][17]

Dickinson looked for ways to sustain her relevance within the fashion industry as she aged, becoming a fashion photographer. In 2008, she launched her own jewelry line on HSN.[18]

In 2009, Dickinson recorded a song entitled "Crazy", which was written and produced by Craig Taylor.[19]

First supermodel[edit]

Dickinson is the self-proclaimed "world's first supermodel".[8] In E! True Hollywood Story, she claimed to have coined the term "supermodel" in 1979.[20] Her manager, concerned that at the peak of her modeling career she was doing too much work, told her, "You are not Superman." Dickinson replied, "I am not Superman, I am a supermodel."[21]

Dickinson's claims for coining the term supermodel and being the first one to represent the title are disputed. The term supermodel was already known in the 1940s. The writer Judith Cass used the term in 1942 for her article in the Chicago Tribune, which headlined "Super Models are Signed for Fashion Show".[22] Later in 1943, author Clyde Matthew Dessner used the term in his modeling book.[23] The term was popular throughout the 1960s to 1970s. The New York Times, on March 21, 1967, and The Daily Times, on May 19, 1967, referred to Twiggy as a supermodel.[24]

In 1968, an article in Glamour described Twiggy, Cheryl Tiegs, Wilhelmina, Veruschka, Jean Shrimpton, and fifteen other top models as "supermodels".[25] The Gazette (dated July 8, 1970) described Penelope Tree as a supermodel.[26]

The April 23, 1971 issue of The Hour headlined one of its articles "Supermodels Reveal Their Beauty Secrets", including an advertisement with the caption "Supermodel Cheryl Tiegs". The article also says, "The fashion/beauty world is dotted with Supermodels" and "Cybill Shepherd a Supermodel who may turn into a Superstar."[27] Jean Shrimpton was described as a supermodel by Time in 1971,[28] as were Margaux Hemingway by Vogue on September 1, 1975,[29] Beverly Johnson by Jet in 1977,[30] and Naomi Sims in the 1978 book Total Beauty Catalog by K.T. Maclay.[31]

Lisa Fonssagrives[32][33][34][35] and Dorian Leigh, whose careers began before Dickinson was born, have been retroactively recognized as the 20th century's first supermodels.[36][37] Gia Carangi has been called the first supermodel[38][39] as well as Jean Shrimpton.[40][41][42][43][44]


In 2003, Dickinson returned to media attention with her stint as a judge on the reality television series America's Next Top Model. She was hired after producer Tyra Banks read No Lifeguard On Duty and realized that Dickinson could offer the contestants advice on the perils of the fashion industry. As a panelist, Dickinson became known for her wit and incisive, brutally honest critiques.[45]

Dickinson frequently quarreled with her fellow judges, particularly Kimora Lee Simmons and Nolé Marin.[46] A recurring source of tension between Dickinson and Banks was the former's dubiety concerning plus-size models.[47]

After four cycles, Banks fired Dickinson, replacing her with Twiggy. Dickinson was hurt by the decision. "I was just telling the truth and I was saving these girls from going out there and being told that they're too short, too fat, their skin's not good enough," she said. "I was to America's Next Top Model what Simon Cowell is to American Idol."[48] Despite this, Dickinson made guest appearances on the following three cycles: As the photographer for a photo challenge in cycle 5, in a mentor role in cycle 6, and as the interviewee for an interview challenge in cycle 7. In 2005, Dickinson was a cast member on The Surreal Life during its fifth season. She was confronted by castmate Omarosa Manigault during a publicity photo shoot while Dickinson was posing with a prop knife. After being physically separated by Bronson Pinchot the two continued to feud throughout the series.[8][49][50]

In 2006, Dickinson starred in her own reality show, The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, for the Oxygen cable-television channel. The program, which ran for four seasons, documented Dickinson launching a new career as a modeling agent. She appeared with British model Abigail Clancy in Beauty & The Best, a reality series detailing Clancy's attempt to break into the American modeling market. The show debuted in the United Kingdom on Living on May 14, 2007, and premiered in the U.S on Oxygen on February 19, 2008.[51]

In November 2007, Dickinson became one of the celebrities taking part in the British reality television show I'm a Celebrity…Get Me out of Here!. She set the record for most Bushtucker trials, competing ten times in a row.[52] In the finale of the series, it was announced that Dickinson had gained second place in the competition, with Christopher Biggins coming first.[citation needed]

Dickinson was also a contestant for series two of the American version of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! which began airing in June 2009.[53] She was eliminated from the show on June 18, 2009.[citation needed]

In 2009, Dickinson was a guest judge on the Finnish version of the Top Model franchise. She created controversy after the claimed effects of accidentally mixing a sleeping aid with champagne caused her to fall down a flight of stairs and burst out at the models. Dickinson was taken to a hospital where she was told she had no visible injuries. She later apologized to the models during the show's airing.[54]

Other guest appearances include "Still Charmed and Kicking", an episode of Charmed. Dickinson made a cameo appearance in Darren Hayes's music video "On the Verge of Something Wonderful". In 2010, Dickinson appeared on the celebrity edition of British dinner-party contest Come Dine With Me, on which she frequently butted heads with former Page 3 Girl Samantha Fox over her glamour modeling career, and flirted with Calum Best.[55]

Dickinson appeared in the fourth season of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, which premiered in December 2010.[56] In 2011, she guest-starred in an episode of 90210 (titled "Project Runway").[57]

In August 2015, Dickinson was a housemate on the sixteenth season of the British reality show, Celebrity Big Brother. She became the seventh celebrity to be evicted from the house, just two days before the final.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Dickinson has been married three times. Her former husbands are Ron Levy,[8][58] Simon Fields,[8] and Alan B. Gersten,[8] also known as Albert Gersten.[3] With Fields she has a son, Nathan. She has a daughter, Savannah, by former boyfriend Michael Birnbaum.[8]

In her books and in interviews, she has discussed her numerous sexual relationships with male and female celebrities.[59] In 2012, she announced she was engaged to marry Dr. Robert Gerner,[60] a psychiatrist.[61]

During an episode of the reality show The Surreal Life, Dickinson revealed in-depth information about the emotional abuse she endured as a child and teenager.[citation needed] She stated to her cast mates, "My father was a pedophile. He was a dark, angry guy. Being forced to have a pedophile for a father is probably the most horrible thing that can happen to a child, bar none." She said, "I survived a monster... 16 years I was forced to keep the secret... If I ever exposed my pedophile father, I would've been murdered. So you know what he did instead? He beat me on a daily basis."[citation needed]

In an interview, Dickinson told British magazine Now, "When he was on the way to the hospital, I tossed his medication out of the car window and didn't tell the doctors. Maybe I wanted to kill the abuser?"[10]

In November 2014, Dickinson told Entertainment Today that comedian Bill Cosby raped her in 1982. She said that she tried to write about the assault in her 2002 autobiography, but Cosby and his lawyers pressured her and her lawyers to remove the details.[62] Dickinson became the most visible of a number of women who accused Cosby of committing sexual harassment and rape years before in multiple separate incidents.[63]

In March 2016 it was revealed that Dickinson has been diagnosed with breast cancer.[64]


Dickinson released a memoir detailing her "wild days" as a supermodel. Titled No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World’s First Supermodel (2002), the book was effective in introducing her to a new generation.[9] Her 2004 follow-up memoir was Everything About Me is Fake… And I’m Perfect,[9][65] in which she describes her life in modeling; her experience with plastic surgery; and her battles with anorexia, bulimia, and alcoholism.[65] Her next memoir, Check Please! Dating, Mating, and Extricating (2006), is purported to show a lighter and more tender side of Dickinson. In the book, Dickinson discusses the men in her life, and prescribes her rules for dating.[66]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Profile of Fashion Model Janice Dickinson". Retrieved July 15, 2008. 
  2. ^ Gemma Calvert. "Jungle Janice: I'm a CeLESBrity!". News of the World. Archived from the original on June 9, 2008. Retrieved November 25, 2007. 
  3. ^ a b c "Janice Dickinson". NNDB.com. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved March 28, 2016. Although Dickinson has maintained in several interviews and her autobiography No Lifeguard on Duty that she was born in 1955, other sources give it as 1953 or 1954. Most details from her life support 1955. Her birthday is also given variously as February 15 and February 17. 
  4. ^ "Janice Dickinson details alleged Bill Cosby sexual assault", etonline.com; accessed November 19, 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Behind the Cover Girl: Getting Real with Janice Dickinson". CNN. January 10, 2007. Retrieved August 6, 2008. 
  6. ^ a b No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of the World's First Supermodel – Janice Dickinson. Retrieved November 7, 2012 – via Google Books. 
  7. ^ "Introducing the new Janice Dickinson – what America's top model did". Evening Standard. March 1, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Staff. "Janice Dickinson". Us Weekly. Archived from the original on December 13, 2007. Retrieved October 28, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c d e "Janice Dickinson profile". AskMen.com. September 18, 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  10. ^ a b c "Supermodel Janice Dickinson May Have Facilitated Father's Death". starpulse.com. September 26, 2006. Archived from the original on May 14, 2014. Retrieved August 6, 2008. 
  11. ^ a b c d Phinney, Susan (September 28, 2002). "A Moment with ... Janice Dickinson, Model/Photographer/Author". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 
  12. ^ a b "Modeling the '80s Look: The Faces and Fees Are Fabulous". Time. February 9, 1981. 
  13. ^ Holland, Nicole. "Janice Dickinson: Breaking the Mold". Independent Film Quarterly. Issue 13.
  14. ^ "The Edited Version of a Biography by Janice Dickinson". NYGard Magazine. December 3, 2007. 
  15. ^ a b Malkin, Marc S. (May 27, 2002) "Janice Dickinson: Her Lips Aren't Sealed", New York; accessed April 7, 2016.
  16. ^ Demarest, Michael; Harbison, Georgia (August 25, 1980). "Come with Me to Casablancas", Time; accessed November 19, 2014.
  17. ^ a b No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental Life of The World's First Supermodel.
  18. ^ "HSN Jewelry". Retrieved November 19, 2014. 
  19. ^ Glassman, Sara (June 1, 2009). "In Bed with Janice Dickinson". Star Tribune. Retrieved April 7, 2016. 
  20. ^ Dickinson, Janice (June 1, 2006). "Janice Dickinson". Instinct. Archived from the original on December 7, 2007. Retrieved June 9, 2009. 
  21. ^ E! True Hollywood Story; accessed April 7, 2016.
  22. ^ Cass, Judith Chicago Tribune archives, "'Super' Models Are Signed for Fashion Show", Chicago Daily Tribune, October 6, 1942, p. 21.
  23. ^ Dessner, Clyde (1943). "So You Want to Be a Model!". 
  24. ^ "Superman; Superstar; Supermodel", BarryPopik.com, July 25, 2004.
  25. ^ Cokal, Susann. St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, 1999. Michigan: Gale Group.
  26. ^ Knickerbocker, Suzy (July 8, 1970). "Smart Set". The Gazette. 
  27. ^ D'Arcy, Jeanne (April 23, 1971). "Supermodels Reveal Their Beauty Secrets". The Hour. 
  28. ^ "People". Time. May 17, 1971. Retrieved June 16, 2009. 
  29. ^ "Vogue cover scan archived from Ebay.co.uk". img.inkfrog.com. September 1, 1975. Retrieved April 7, 2016. 
  30. ^ "Words of the Week". Jet Magazine. 53 (14). December 22, 1977. p. 40. 
  31. ^ Maclay, K.T. (1978). Total Beauty Catalog. ISBN 0-698-10835-3. 
  32. ^ Ranck, Rosemary (February 9, 1997). "The First Supermodel". The New York Times. Retrieved September 24, 2006. 
  33. ^ Cheesman, Chris (October 19, 2007). "Pictures: Original stills from JFK assassination revealed". Amateur Photographer. Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, described as the 'world's first supermodel' 
  34. ^ Singh, Anita (November 13, 2008). "Photographs of Angelina Jolie, Kate Moss and Britney Spears for Sale at Christie's". The Daily Telegraph. Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn...described as the original supermodel, gracing the pages of Vogue in the 1940s and 1950s 
  35. ^ Johnson, Geoffrey (March 2010). "On the Life and Work of Photographer Beatrice Tonnesen". Chicago. Lisa Fonssagrives, recognized today as the original supermodel... 
  36. ^ Gross, Michael: "Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women", 2003, Harper Paperbacks; ISBN 0-06-054163-6.
  37. ^ Scott, Walter: "Parade", page 2, June 10, 2007.
    "It's absurd. ...The first American supermodel was Dorian Leigh, who worked the late 1940s and '50s."
  38. ^ Vallely, Paul (September 10, 2005). "Gia: The Tragic Tale of the World's First Supermodel". The Independent. Retrieved May 28, 2007. 
  39. ^ Carolin, Louise. "Gia – The Tragedy of a Lesbian Supermodel". Diva. Retrieved January 17, 2008. 
  40. ^ Mansour, David (2005). From Abba to Zoom: A Pop Culture Encyclopedia of the Late 20th Century. p. 430. ISBN 0-7407-5118-2. 
  41. ^ Busch, Charles (January 24, 1995). "He's Every Woman". The Advocate: 60. 
  42. ^ Magee, Antonia (October 28, 2009). "Model Jean Shrimpton Recollects the Stir She Caused on Victoria Derby Day in 1965". Herald Sun. 
  43. ^ Cohen, Susan; Cosgrove, Christine (2009). Normal at Any Cost: Tall Girls, Short Boys, and the Medical Industry's Quest to Manipulate Height. ISBN 1-58542-683-0. 
  44. ^ "Jean Shrimpton profile". milesago.com. Retrieved November 19, 2014. 
  45. ^ Heffernan, Virginia (June 6, 2006). "'The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency': A Top Model on Her Own Beauty Search". The New York Times; retrieved October 30, 2011.
  46. ^ Silverman, Stephen M. (December 29, 2005). "Janice Dickinson to Head Modeling Agency", people.com; retrieved October 30, 2011.
  47. ^ Staff (June 26, 2003). "Tyra Banks' Model Catfight; Kevin Costner Engaged; Kelly Osbourne's Bar Room Brawl", sfgate.com; retrieved October 30, 2011.
  48. ^ Staff (September 20, 2005). "Janice Dickinson: "I Was Fired from 'Tyra Banks Show'"". Contactmusic.com. Retrieved October 30, 2011. 
  49. ^ Holmes, Linda (September 22, 2005). "Omarosa Vs. Janice: 'Surreal' Battle of the Divas – Castmates' Attention-Grabbing Tactics Makes for Entertaining Viewing", msnbc.com; retrieved October 30, 2011.
  50. ^ "The 20 Greatest Celebreality Moments", vh1.com, September 22, 2005.
  51. ^ Janice Dickinson at the Internet Movie Database; accessed April 7, 2016.
  52. ^ Das, Lina (December 5, 2008). "'I've Still Got the Hots for Dec!' Janice Dickinson Gives Her Verdict on the Stars of This Year's I'm a Celebrity", Daily Mail; accessed November 19, 2014.
  53. ^ "I'm a Celebrity Cast Announced". TVGuide.com. Retrieved April 24, 2009. 
  54. ^ Odell, Amy (May 29, 2009). "Janice Dickinson Downs Booze, Sleeping Aids on Finland's Next Top Model, Makes Quite the Scene", nymag.com; accessed November 19, 2014.
  55. ^ "Channel 4, Celebrity Come Dine with Me, Season 20, Episode 2". Retrieved April 7, 2016. 
  56. ^ "Jason Wahler, Janice Dickinson Sign On for Celebrity Rehab". Us Weekly. Retrieved November 19, 2014. 
  57. ^ Hughes, Jason (November 30, 2011). "Janice Dickinson Critiques Holly and Naomi's Designs on '90210' (VIDEO)". AOL TV. Retrieved December 1, 2011. 
  58. ^ "Ron Levy was married to Janice Dickinson – Ron Levy Dating History". Zimbio.com. Retrieved April 7, 2016. 
  59. ^ MacKenzie, Drew. "Dickinson, on the Covers – and Under Them". Daily News. New York City. Retrieved September 24, 2006. 
  60. ^ "Janice Dickinson "Couldn't Be Happier" Over Engagement to Dr. Robert Gerner". Us Weekly. December 16, 2012. Retrieved March 28, 2016. 
  61. ^ Dr. Robert Gerner profile, healthgrades.com; accessed November 19, 2014.
  62. ^ Bueno, Antoinette (November 18, 2014). "EXCLUSIVE: Janice Dickinson Details Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Accusations: He Raped Me". Retrieved November 19, 2014. 
  63. ^ "Janice Dickinson Details Alleged Bill Cosby Sexual Assault", etonline.com; accessed April 5, 2016.
  64. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: 'I have breast cancer.' Courageous supermodel Janice Dickinson reveals she has been diagnosed with the disease but says: 'Don't feel sorry for me, I'm gonna stick around for a long, long time'", dailymail.co.uk; accessed April 5, 2016.
  65. ^ a b Dickinson, Janice. Everything About Me Is Fake – And I'm Perfect. New York City: ReganBooks (2004); ISBN 978-0-06-055469-9.
  66. ^ Dickinson, Janice (2006). Check, Please! – Dating, Mating, and Extricating, New York City: ReganBooks; ISBN 978-0-06-076391-6.

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