A Brief History
On September 17, 1991, model Stephanie Seymour starred in the first of two music videos for the hard rock band Guns N’ Roses. Stephanie was also the girlfriend of its lead singer, Axl Rose, and became such after he had spotted her on the cover of a Playboy magazine and contacted her. There have been many cases of a portrait, picture or magazine cover of a woman fascinating a person in such a way that it led to an action. This article spotlights 10 such cases.
1) Anne of Cleves (1515-1557)
After the death of his third wife in childbirth, Henry VIII mounted a bride search and sent his court painter across Europe to paint portraits of all the eligible princesses. Many of the women were not cooperative since Henry had just a few years back had wife no. 2 beheaded, with one even saying something along the lines of she would gladly marry him if she had two heads. Ouch! Anne of Cleves was not so difficult, and she gladly posed. Henry was thrilled with the resulting portrait and became besotted with her image. With Anne’s arrival in England, however, reality caught up, and Henry was rudely awakened when he saw her in person. Despite voicing his disapproval, he was bound by contract, public opinion and international relations to marry her, which he dutifully but begrudgingly did. What then happened between them can be read in this History and Headlines article on the different types of amicable divorces.
2) Countess Augusta Reuss von Ebersdorf (1757-1831)
In order to find a suitable marriage candidate for his beautiful daughter, Augusta’s father commissioned the painter Johann Heinrich Tischbein to paint her as Artemisia, the mournful and grieving wife who mixed her husband’s ashes with her drinks. He then showed the resulting painting at a meeting of envoys of the Holy Roman Empire where it caught the attention of Franz Frederick Anton, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, who fell in love with the portrait and purchased it for four times the asking price. Unfortunately, he was already engaged to another woman. As fate had it, however, his wife died just months after the wedding, and the Duke was free to pursue and marry Augusta. This marriage is especially significant because one of their daughters became the mother of Victoria, Queen of England.
3) Diana Dill (1923- )
The first wife of actor Kirk Douglas, the two of them met at acting school. It was not, however, until Douglas recognized Diana’s picture on the cover of LIFE magazine while he was serving onboard a ship in World War II that he proclaimed to his fellow comrades that he would marry the girl. They did marry and had two children before divorcing in 1951. The eldest of their sons is Academy Award-winning actor and producer Michael Douglas. The ex-couple did stay on amicable terms though and even starred together in the 2003 movie It Runs in the Family.
4) Lauren Bacall (1924-2014)
Recently deceased actress Lauren Bacall caught her big break after the wife of Hollywood director and movie producer Howard Hawks spotted her on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar magazine in 1943. Howard Hawks was urged by his wife to invite Bacall to Hollywood to take a screen test for the role of the female lead in the movie To Have and Have Not. Bacall was picked to play the part and starred opposite future husband Humphrey Bogart, and the two of them embarked on what would turn out to be one of the great romances of the century.
5) Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962)
Before Marilyn hit the big time, she modeled to make ends meet. In 1952, after seeing her in publicity photographs with some Chicago White Sox players, Joe DiMaggio became interested in the yet relatively unknown Marilyn. He tracked her down and found out that they had a mutual acquaintance whom he then asked to set them up on a date. Marilyn did not know at the time who Joe DiMaggio was because she was not into baseball, which must have seemed refreshing to DiMaggio after years of having groupies throw themselves at him. Eventually they married and although they divorced not long after because her career was taking off, which lead to differences of opinion between the two, DiMaggio stayed devoted to her for the rest of his life. Please see this History and Headlines article for a testament of Joe’s love, devotion and loyalty to Marilyn.
6) Enrica Soma (1929-1969)
A beautiful ballet dancer, Enrica, known as Ricki, was selected to model for the cover of the July 1947 issue of LIFE magazine on which she was named simply “Young Ballerina.” Director John Huston saw the cover and began pursuing her. The two married, and not long afterward Enrica gave birth to two children, one of them being the actress Angelica Houston.
7) Brigitte Bardot (1934- )
While babysitting a friend’s child, French assistant-director Roger Vadim grabbed the latest issue of Elle magazine to make the child a paper airplane. He paused when he saw 15-year-old, still-brunette Brigitte Bardot on the cover. He knew he had to get the girl’s number so that he could get her to come in and take a screen test. The rest is history. Vadim ended up marrying his protégée and became something of the French equivalent of American director John Derek. Between the two of them, they have wedded or bedded just about every beautiful blonde there is. Among Vadim’s conquests are Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve and Jane Fonda, and Derek was married to Ursula Andress, Linda Evans and Bo Derek.
8) Stephanie Seymour (1968- )
As briefly mentioned in the introduction, Axl Rose spotted Stephanie Seymour on the cover of the March 1991 issue of Playboy and called her up to ask her about starring in some of his band’s music videos. The two quickly began dating, and Stephanie appeared in the music videos for Guns N’ Roses’ “Don’t Cry” and “November Rain.” But, alas, the wedding dress Stephanie wore for “November Rain” was not to be in real life, and the couple broke up, leaving Axl severely depressed about losing “his perfect woman and the love of his life.”
9) Elise McKenna (Somewhere in Time, 1980)
In the 1980 movie Somewhere in Time, Richard, the character played by iconic Superman actor Christopher Reeve, falls in love with a portrait of a women, Elise McKenna, who lived 70 years earlier and is played by Jane Seymour. Through self-hypnosis, he wills himself to time-travel back to her, and the two of them embark on a romance. His love for her is so great that when he is pulled back into the present, he dies of a broken heart.
10) Sarah Connor (Terminator, 1984)
In the original Terminator movie, resistance-leader John Connor gives resistance-fighter Kyle Reese a picture of his mother, Sarah Connor, played by Linda Hamilton, so that he will recognize her when he is sent back in time to protect her from the Terminator whose assignment it is to kill her before she can give birth to John Connor. Reese falls in love with the woman in the picture, which is good, because he ends up sleeping and impregnating her with none other than… John Connor!
Question for students (and subscribers): If you can think of any others, please feel free to add them in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Bailey, Glenda, Stephen Gan, et al. Harper’s Bazaar: Greatest Hits. Harry N. Abrams, 2011.
Editors of Life. LIFE 75 Years: The Very Best of LIFE. Life, 2011.