Barbara Stone, Modeling Agent to American Beauties, Dies at 87


In 1968, Cybill Shepherd, then just 18, won the pageant.

Cheryl Tiegs, the California girl who would go on to become a household name as the face of Cover Girl makeup, was in college when she met Ms. Stone. Ford was also wooing her, but she chose Stewart Models because, she said, Ms. Stone put her at ease:

“I was painfully shy and she was warm and took me under her wing. There were certain photographers about whom she would say, ‘No, I don’t want you going there.’ She would speak to my parents. That was helpful to the mothers because in those days we rarely picked up the phone and called home.

“Barbara let me be who I was,” Ms. Tiegs continued, “which I felt was awkward and shy. Much later, when I left to join Ford because Barbara was turning away from her business, I sent her a letter to tell her. I knew if I saw her in person she would talk me out of it, and I wasn’t strong enough to overcome Barbara Stone.”

Barbara Sue Thorbahn was born on Nov. 20, 1933, in Philadelphia. Her father, Stewart, was a newspaper reporter and editor; her mother, Alice (McGinley) Thorbahn, was a homemaker.

Barbara grew up in Swarthmore and graduated from Swarthmore High School, where she was voted most likely to succeed, before attending Gettysburg College. An early marriage to George Frederic Pelham III ended in divorce. In 1964 she married Richard Stone, who was then a magazine illustrator and later a commercial director and painter. He survives her, along with her daughter and a son, Lucas.

Ms. Stone left the modeling business in the mid-1970s. For a time she had a production company and made short beauty spots for television. She also worked for Maybelline and was briefly a real estate agent. From 1996 to 2003 she published a literary journal, Hampton Shorts, which contained short fiction from writers like Bruce Jay Friedman, Judith Rossner, Joseph Heller and Spalding Grey.

In her modeling days — when she was “the lady vice president” of her agency, as a male reporter for The Daily News once described her — she and her husband lived at the El Dorado on Central Park West, and invariably one or more of her models would be staying with them, an in loco parentis arrangement that began to wear on Ms. Stone’s actual family.

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