Curious Photos Of Cynthia, A Superstar Mannequin In The ‘30s

Lester Gaba dines at the Marguery, a New York restaurant, with his mannequin Cynthia, 1937.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE

In 1932, a life-like mannequin named Cynthia was created by Lester Gaba. After several shoots around New York City for Life Magazine in 1937, her career was launched, and for a matter of months, Cynthia became a household name.

Similar to an A-list celebrity, the mannequin superstar began receiving fan mails, gifts and invitations to events, was sent jewelry and dresses from luxury fashion houses, had her own television talk show and starred on the silver screen of Hollywood. Cynthia’s dazzling fame even led to gossip columnists writing about her as an actual living socialite, telling stories of the lavish events she attended with Gaba, her creator.

As a mannequin, her popularity eventually decreased. Cynthia officially retired when Gaba was inducted into the army in 1942. She made a comeback in a television show in 1953, but the duo’s magic was over at the time, and that marked the end of Cynthia’s appearance to the public. Gaba would later admit that “Cynthia never made any sense” in an interview with the New York Times. Nevertheless, it was her popularity that made a significant impact on the use of mannequins in retail sales marketing.

h/t: vintag.es

Let’s take a look at the insanely strange star of the 1930s:

Choosing a face for Cynthia, 1937.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE

Part of Cynthia, 1937.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE

Making up for Cynthia, 1937.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE

Cynthia, the mannequin who became a superstar, gets a makeover in 1937.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE

Lester Gaba making an adjustment to his lifelike mannequin Cynthia, 1937.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE

Dressing Cynthia up, 1937.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE

Lester Gaba making an adjustment to his lifelike mannequin Cynthia, 1937.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE

Painting nails for Cynthia, 1937.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE

Cynthia relaxes at Lester Gaba’s apartment in New York in 1937. One of Gaba’s paintings is behind her on the wall.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE

Lester Gaba with his creation, Cynthia the mannequin, 1937.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE

Cynthia’s closet, 1937.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE

Lester Gaba and his mannequin Cynthia riding transit in New York City, 1937.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE

Cynthia on a New York City tour bus, 1937.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE

Lester Gaba at the Stork Club, New York, with his mannequin Cynthia, 1937.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE

Cynthia at a bar, New York, 1937.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE

Sunday brunch at novelist Thyra Samter Winslow’s Park Avenue home in 1937. Cynthia sits to the right of mural painter Franklin Hughes.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE

Back view of Cynthia at a restaurant, 1937.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE

Lester Gaba holding Cynthia in his arms, 1937.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE

Cynthia in a theater box with Lester Gabba, her creator, 1939.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE

Lester Gaba takes Cynthia to the Broadhurst Theater in New York in 1939.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/LIFE

Leave Your Comment Below

More Inspiring Stories