The Loves of Lauren Hutton
Lauren Hutton, from Lunch Bunny to Supermodel Actress Turned Talk Show Host
From the Print Edition:
Matt Dillon, Spring 96
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Going places has long been a Hutton pastime. During a 15-year period, she worked as a model for half of each year and spent the rest of the year traveling. The Ford agency, which represented her for nearly 30 years (she's now represented by IMG), was the only one of New York City's top five modeling agencies to accept the 20-year-old Hutton in 1964, when she was agency-shopping shortly after arriving in the city. Eileen Ford, the grande dame of cover girls in those years, warned Hutton that if she left town for more than two weeks, everyone would forget her.
Hutton didn't listen. Nor did she heed Ford's advice to fill that space between her teeth with something more permanent than the mortician's wax she had begun carrying around. "She's always been a rebel. Lauren dances to a different drummer," Ford says today of one of her first supermodels. Ford remembers the first time she met Hutton: "There has always been a way Lauren walks into a room. When she enters, you know you're looking at a star. I immediately knew she wasn't ever going to miss. Tooth or no tooth." Against all odds, the gap-toothed model graced a record 28 Vogue covers, and during one 10-year period earned more than any other model on earth.
"I lasted so long because I always had a very strong [private] life, that was in fact much stronger than my modeling life, and I spent as much time at it," Hutton reasons. That was due in part to the influence of Bob Williamson, the man with whom she shared a tiny apartment in Greenwich Village for several years. They met at a New York hot spot called Duke's Cube in 1964. He was a downtown dilettante who played the market. Older and shorter with Coke-bottle glasses, he was better-read than Hutton and became her Pygmalion. She jokingly refers to him as "Bob God," saying, "He was like a walking library--his knowledge was encyclopedic."
Williamson determined what Hutton should wear, with whom she should work and how she should spend her money. This is hard to imagine some 30 years later, with her current reputation for being independent, willful and single. Williamson led her to faraway places she'd never heard of such as Morocco, Uganda and Tanzania, and Hutton claims he saved her life five times. They trekked in the Himalayas and the Andes and lived with tribal cultures three times. The two split up years ago but keep in touch.
When Hutton hosted Isabella Rossellini on her talk show, they discussed what makes a man attractive. Rossellini attributed her passion for great directors to their thoughts: "They wake up in the morning and ask, 'Why are we here? Is there a God or not? What is moral and what is not?' It's this incredible morality or spiritual search that makes me fall in love." Hutton was quick to agree.
One man in Hutton's life who tried to impart to her his search for meaning was her father, even though she never met him. Lawrence Hutton, who grew up in Mississippi next door to William Faulkner (the writer was his scout master), was stationed in England during the Second World War when Mary Laurence Hutton was born on Nov. 17, 1943, in Charleston, South Carolina. After the war, Lawrence's wife, Minnie, moved to Miami and divorced him. He died in 1955, at 36, while working as a reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
"Never meeting my father was the most painful thing in my life," Hutton admits. "I look just like him and I'm named for him, but all I have are these two books of his letters and drawings from the war. The day of my birth he wrote and told me about our ancestors, what he thought was important in the world, what books I should read and what he wanted for me. He was a very, very hip young man of 24 when he wrote to me."
Lauren's mother was a Southern belle schoolmate of Barbara Bush's at Ashley Hall in Charleston. After moving to Miami, she and Mary Laurence lived with Minnie's sister and brother-in-law, Gaga and Eddy. When Mary Laurence was six, Minnie married an ex-oil wildcatter named Jack Hall, moved to Tampa and had three more daughters, whom Lauren virtually raised.
In a recent article in Forbes, Hutton wrote, "Mother was lethally beautiful. She had real platinum-blond hair worn like Veronica Lake's, a long pageboy over one sapphire blue eye.... Mother looked like a princess from the big Grimms fairytales book." Lauren was not your typical girl. She liked to roughouse with the boys in the swamp, climb trees and raise worms. Her childhood was tough in other ways, and at times the family was "fantastically poor," Hutton recalls. "I was molded by the hard times--the adversity I was faced with," Hutton says, when asked what distinguished her.
On her show, she recounted to the comic Susie Essman how she handled a gang of girls who came to beat her up when she was 11. "They were waiting for me outside my house. Waiting to pounce, and I knew it. So I came, cracked a joke and they laughed. Then, fortunately, a rattlesnake went by, and I caught it. I became a hero."
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