Margaux Hemingway is most well known for being the supermodel that turned heads during the mid-1970s, but did you know these interesting facts?
1. She was born with the name Margot Louise Hemingway.
She changed her name to Margaux Hemingway after finding out that her parents had conceived her after a night of drinking wine from the acclaimed French vineyard Château Margaux.
Margaux Hemingway was born on February 6, 1954, in Portland, Oregon, to Byra Louise and Jack Hemingway. She had two siblings, Mariel and Joan (nicknamed Muffet). During her early childhood, they moved to Cuba and then San Francisco, before settling on their grandfather’s farm in Ketchum, Idaho.
Each summer, the family would visit their godmother’s farm in Salem, Oregon. Margaux Hemingway ended up finishing her schooling at the Catlin Gabel School in Portland before relocating to New York to pursue a career in the modeling industry. It was from a young age that Margaux began struggling with disorders such as depression, bulimia, and epilepsy.
2. Her first modeling agency insisted that she wouldn’t be successful until she lost 20lbs and cleaned up her eyebrows.
In the same year, she switched modeling agencies to the Eileen Ford Agency. Later that year she was selected and offered a million-dollar contract by Fabergé to be the spokesmodel for their new perfume called ‘Babe.’
Her partygoer friend Halston remembers, “She had all the component parts to become a modern young superstar: openness, infectiousness, beauty and the ambition to follow through.”
3. Her million-dollar contract was the first ever presented to a fashion model and still remains the biggest single solo fashion advertising deal to this day.
In a 1988 interview with Kristin McMurran from People, Margaux Hemingway describes what the fame was like, “For me, becoming a celebrity was like being in the eye of a hurricane. Suddenly I was an international cover girl. Everybody was lapping up my Hemingwayness. They wanted to rub elbows with me or brush up against me.”
5. In 1976 she made her film debut in Lipstick, a massive box office flop.
Margaux Hemingway played a fashion model who is harassed by a rapist. Her sister Mariel was also in the film, only aged 14 at the time. Mariel’s acting career flourished, ending up working with the likes of Woody Allen and Bob Fosse, however, Margaux’s did the opposite. Despite featuring in various films after Lipstick, nothing really took off.
Margaux remembers this tough time, “Mariel’s career really began to take off with Manhattan in 1979. It was a little difficult for me because for a while she was behaving like a Hollywood starlet, and we didn’t get along that well. She was trying to create her own identity rather than living in my shadow. I felt like I had paved her way, but I don’t think she wanted to be around me. That hurt my feelings.”
6. At the peak of her modeling career, Margaux Hemingway attended New York City’s Studio 54 a few times a week.
Margaux Hemingway was a regular at Steve Rubell’s exclusive Studio 54 during its heyday, usually partying with the likes of Mick Jagger, Liza Minnelli, Halston, Andy Warhol, and Grace Jones. Although it was during this time that alcoholism began to creep into her life, she said she used it to cope with her nervousness when going to these renowned parties.
Margaux recalls, “To me, they were the real celebrities, and I was just a girl from Idaho. So I drank to loosen up. I never thought then that alcohol would become a problem… I always thought alcohol would give me the strength and courage to do whatever I wanted to do. In fact, it made me less able to think clearly.”
7. Her close friend, mentor, and spiritist Zachary Selig introduced her to yoga and human chakra systems such as Solar Kundalini to help with her mental disorders.
11. Her grandfather was the literary legend, Ernest Hemingway. Margaux grew up on Ernest’s farm in Ketchum, Idaho. Sadly, they only got to spend seven years together.
Margaux’s father Jack Hemingway once said “If Ernest Hemingway had had a daughter, Margot is what he would have wanted. She’s very womanly. She has a true capacity for suffering and for enjoying and for loving.”
14. Margaux Hemingway was the fifth person in her family to take her own life. Something which has continued to haunt the Hemingway family.
Sadly on July 1, 1996, Margaux Hemingway was discovered dead in her Santa Monica apartment. A toxicology report found that she took an overdose of phenobarbital. Margaux’s death depicts a cautionary tale of the modeling industry and the effects of being in the spotlight from a young age.
As she said herself, “It sounds glamorous, and it was. I was having a lot of fun. But I was also very naive when I came on the scene. I genuinely thought that people liked me for myself—for my humor and good qualities. I never expected to meet so many professional leeches.”