Monday, February 26, 2018

Did You Know #51

    She was described as New York City's first supermodel, the embodiment of the "classical ideal" of beauty, and as "the world's most perfectly formed woman." Discovered by a photographer at the age of 15, she was soon introduced to famous sculptors and posing for monuments throughout the city of New York (she is said to have posed for more public monuments and memorials than anyone). The following pictures represent just a partial list of sculptures of Audrey Marie Munson that can still be seen by pedestrians in the Big Apple.

  • The Civic Fame statue that stands atop the Municipal Building, Manhattan’s largest statue, second only to the Statue of Liberty (top left)
  • The Firemen's Memorial to "New York's Bravest" (lower left)
  • Above the door of the Frick Museum (top right)
  • Beauty, outside New York Public Library's main branch (center right)
  • Pomona, the Roman goddess of abundance, on the Pulitzer Fountain at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue (lower right)

  • “Columbia Triumphant” that adorns the USS Maine National Monument in Columbus Circle (top left)
  • "Memory" on the Straus Memorial, honoring the co-founder of Macy's department store, Isidor Straus, and his wife, Ida, they died on the Titanic (lower left)
  • Miss Brooklyn, originally on the Brooklyn side of the Manhannan Bridge, now on display outside the Brooklyn Museum (top right)
  • Miss Manhattan and Miss Brooklyn, now on display outside the Brooklyn Museumnow on display outside the Brooklyn Museum (center right)
  • 'Spirit of Commerce' angel at the northern base of the Manhattan Bridge (lower right)

(clockwise from top left)
  • Sculpture at New York's Customs House
  • On the Walking Liberty Half Dollar (1916)
  • Grave marker placed on the grave of her father and step-father
  • The Mercury Dime

In addition to these public monuments, she was also the model for the angel decorating the mausoleums of wealthy New Yorkers and other private and public sculptures across the country. At the peak of her career in the 1910s, it was proclaimed of Audrey that "All New York Bows to the Real Miss Manhattan." Then she went to Hollywood. Here she achieved the infamous place in history as the first person to appear nude in a non-pornographic film, "Inspiration" (1915). She was likewise unclad for the 1916 film, "Purity".

Her movie career hit a huge bump when, in 1919, she became embroiled in a sensational murder trial involving her former landlord, Dr Walter Keene Wilkins (arrested for killing his wife, Julia, after it emerged that he had become obsessed with Audrey and was desperate to marry her). In 1921 she appeared as herself in her final film, "Heedless Moths." The next year she attempted to commit suicide and her life continued to spiral until in 1931 she was committed to the Saint Lawrence Psychiatric Center in Ogdensburg, New York where she would spend the next 65 years until her death on February 20, 1996 at the age of 105.

Audrey Munson and Grandma Bragg were 6th cousins. Their 4th-great-grandfathers were brothers. Here is the family connection:

Samuel and Martha Farnes Munson
Solomon Munson b.1689 Waitstill Munson b.1697
Samuel Munson III b.1717 Solomon Munson b.1727
Samuel Munson Jr. b.1763 Jairus Munson b.1767
Isaac Munson b.1802 Leverett Munson b.1790
Joel Munson b.1846 Leverett Munson b.1824
Elvira Belle Munson b.1871 Edgar Munson b.1857
Gladys Gilbreath Bragg b.1898 Audrey Marie Munson b.1891

Alexandra Genova, NYC's First Supermodel; 6 March 2016
Audrey Munson: “Miss Manhattan” Died in Obscurity in 1996, October 25, 2012
James Bone, She inspired monuments and died in obscurity, CNN, June 9, 2016

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