Cynthia, The First Artificial-Human Celebrity

proxyHow To Be A Retronaut has an amazing collection of photos of “Cynthia of Saks Fifth Avenue”, an eerily prescient, analog version of the computer-created pop personalities which have begun to emerge today:

‘In 1932, artist Lester Gaba created a mannequin known as Cynthia for Saks Fifth Avenue. Cynthia had realistic imperfections like freckles and pigeon toes. Cartier and Tiffany sent her jewelry, Lilly Daché designed hats for her, and couturiers sent her their latest fashions, furrieries sent minks. She was given a credit card from Saks Fifth Avenue, a box seat subscription to the Metropolitan Opera House and made the cover of Life Magazine.

Cynthia had her own newspaper column, and a successful radio show. She went to Hollywood to appear in Artist And Models Abroad with Jack Benny, in 1938 and was photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt.

‘Cynthia met her demise when she slipped from a chair in a beauty salon and shattered. The press reported her death, and Gaba appeared distraught, but eventually reconstructed her. In December 1942, Gaba was inducted into the army. Cynthia retired, and it wasn’t until 1953 that she came back to the public in a TV show, but the magic was over’

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