Janice Doreen Dickinson (born
February 15, 1955) is an American model, fashion photographer, actress,
author and agent. Additionally, she was considered a supermodel in the
fashion industry, and later expanded her profession to reality television
by judging for four cycles on America's Next Top Model. She subsequently
opened her own modeling agency, which was documented as The Janice
Dickinson Modeling Agency.
Janice Dickinson was born in Brooklyn, New York to parents Ray Dickinson,
of Belorussian descent, and Jenie Dickinson née Pietrzykoski, of Polish
descent. She was raised in Hollywood, Florida with two sisters, elder
Alexis, a real estate agent, and younger Debbie, a model.
Dickinson has been open about the emotional and physical abuse she
suffered as a child and teenager, and how her father used to sexually
abuse one of her sisters. Of her childhood with her "rageoholic pedophile"
of a father, Dickinson stated, "Because I wouldn't give in and let him
have sex with me, I was verbally and physically abused on a daily basis. I
was told that I looked like a boy and wouldn't amount to anything. I think
if you abuse a child, your balls should be cut off. You should be
In the early 1970s, Dickinson moved to New York City to pursue work as a
model after winning a national competition called "Miss High Fashion
Model". At a time when blue-eyed blondes dominated the fashion scene,
Dickinson was turned down several times by modeling agents, including
Eileen Ford, who informed Dickinson she was "much too ethnic. You'll never
work". She was discovered by modeling agent Jacques Silverstein when his
girlfriend, Lorraine Bracco, mentioned she liked Dickinson's look.
Wilhelmina became Dickinson's first agent. Her modeling pursuits led her
to Paris, where her "exotic looks" secured her reputation within the
European fashion industry.
She returned to New York in 1978, and spent the next several years working
steadily, earning $2,000 per day, nearly four times the standard rate.
Dickinson eventually signed with Ford Models to land a major ad campaign
for a new JVC camera. Dickinson, who had not forgotten Ford's initial
rejection, was intent on revenge. She soon became one of twenty Ford
models to defect to John Casablancas' upstart Elite Model Management.
By the 1980s, Dickinson was considered a supermodel, as she "possessed the
kind of name and face recognition" that the majority of women in the
modeling industry strive to achieve. She appeared within and on covers of
magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and Playboy, and worked with some
of fashion's best-known names, including Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace,
Valentino, Azzedine Alaïa, Pino Lancetti, Halston, and Calvin Klein.
Dickinson has appeared on the cover of Vogue (both American and
international editions) 37 times. She appeared on the cover of Elle seven
times in a row and has been the face of ad campaigns for products like
Revlon cosmetics, Alberto VO5, Obao, and Orbit Gum.
Dickinson looked for ways to sustain her relevance within the fashion
industry as she aged, becoming a fashion photographer. In 2008, Dickinson
launched her own jewelry line on HSN.
Dickinson is the self-proclaimed "world's first supermodel". In E!
Network's E! True Hollywood Story, she described how she coined the term
"supermodel" in 1979. Her manager, concerned that at the peak of her
modeling career she was doing too much work, told her, "You are not
Superman." Dickinson replied, "I am not Superman, I am a supermodel."
Dickinson's claims for coining the term "supermodel" and being the first
one to represent the title are disputed. The term "supermodel" was already
known in the 1940s. The writer Judith Cass used the term in 1942 for her
article in the Chicago Tribune, which headlined "Super Models are Signed
for Fashion Show". Later in 1943, Clyde Matthew Dessner used the term in
his modeling book. The term was popular throughout the 1960s to 1970s. In
1968, an article in Glamour described Twiggy, Cheryl Tiegs, Wilhelmina,
Veruschka, Jean Shrimpton and fifteen other top models as "supermodels".
Jean Shrimpton was also described as a supermodel by Time in 1971, as were
Beverly Johnson by Jet in 1977, and Naomi Sims in the 1978 book Total
Beauty Catalog by K.T. Maclay.
Dorian Leigh has been retroactively recognized as being one of the 20th
Century's first supermodels, and whose career began and ended before
Dickinson was born. Gia Carangi has also been called the first supermodel,
as well as Lisa Fonssagrives.
In 2003 Dickinson returned to popular consciousness with her stint as a
judge on the reality series America's Next Top Model. She was hired after
producer Tyra Banks read No Lifeguard On Duty and realized that Dickinson
could offer the contestants advice on the perils of the fashion industry.
As a panelist, Dickinson became known for her wit and incisive, brutally
honest critiques. Dickinson frequently quarreled with her fellow judges,
particularly Kimora Lee Simmons and Nolé Marin. A recurring source of
tension between Dickinson and Banks was the former's dubiety concerning
plus-size models. After four cycles, Banks fired Dickinson, replacing her
with Twiggy. Dickinson was hurt by the decision. "I was just telling the
truth and I was saving these girls from going out there and being told
that they're too short, too fat, their skin's not good enough," she said.
"I was to America's Next Top Model what Simon Cowell is to American Idol."
In 2005, Dickinson was a regular on The Surreal Life for its fifth season.
She was confronted by castmate Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth during a
publicity photoshoot while Dickinson was posing with a prop knife. After
being physically separated by Bronson Pinchot the two continued to feud
throughout the series.
In 2006 Dickinson starred in her own reality show, The Janice Dickinson
Modeling Agency, for Oxygen. The program, which ran for four seasons,
documented Dickinson launching a new career as a modeling agent. Despite
high ratings in key demographics a fifth season was not ordered.
She appeared with English model Abigail Clancey in Abbey & Janice: Beauty
& The Best, a reality series detailing Clancey's attempt to break into the
American modeling market. The show debuted in Britain on May 14, 2007 and
premiered in the United States on the Oxygen television network on
February 19, 2008.
In November 2007, Dickinson became one of the celebrities taking part in
the UK reality TV show I'm a Celebrity…Get Me out of Here!. Dickinson set
the world record for most Bushtucker trials, competing ten times in a row.
In the finale of the series, it was announced that Dickinson had gained
second place in the competition, with Christopher Biggins coming first.
Dickinson was also a contestant for series two of the American version of
I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! which began airing in June 2009.
She was eliminated from the show on June 18, 2009.
In 2009, Dickinson was a guest judge on the Finnish version of the Top
Model franchise. She created controversy after the claimed effects of
accidentally mixing a sleeping aid with champagne caused her to fall down
a flight of stairs and burst out at the models. Dickinson was then taken
to a hospital where she was told she had no visible injuries. She later
then apologized to the models during the show's airing.
Other guest appearances include "Still Charmed and Kicking", one episode
of Charmed where Paige disguised herself as Dickinson in order to fool
both her sisters and old family friends that people important to her did
actually care that she had "died". Her sisters soon found out that
"Dickinson" was actually Paige and ordered her to reverse the spell. She
made a cameo appearance in Darren Hayes's music video "On the Verge of
Dickinson has been married three times. Her former husbands are Ron Levy,
Simon Fields (1987 – 1993), and Albert B. Gerston (February 1995 – 1996;
also recorded as Alan B. Gersten). With Fields she had a son, Nathan
Fields. She has a daughter, Savannah Dickinson, by former boyfriend,
Michael Birnbaum. Dickinson thought that Sylvester Stallone was Savannah's
father. A paternity test proved that the biological father was not
Stallone, but Birnbaum. In her books and in interviews, she has also
discussed her numerous sexual relationships with male and female
celebrities. Her past lovers include Warren Beatty, Sylvester Stallone,
Jack Nicholson, Liam Neeson, Sir Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood, Kelly LeBrock,
Prince Albert II, Roman Polanski, Dolph Lundgren, Grace Jones, Bruce
Willis, Frank Zappa, John Cusack, David O'Hara, and Jon Lovitz.
During an episode of the reality show The Surreal Life, Dickinson revealed
in-depth information about the emotional abuse she endured as a child and
teenager. She stated to her cast mates, "My father was a pedophile. He was
a dark, angry guy. Being forced to have a pedophile for a father is
probably the most horrible thing that can happen to a child, bar none."
She said, "I survived a monster... 16 years I was forced to keep the
secret... If I ever exposed my pedophile father, I would've been murdered.
So you know what he did instead? He beat me on a daily basis." In an
interview, Dickinson told British magazine Now, "When he was on the way to
the hospital, I tossed his medication out of the car window and didn't
tell the doctors. Maybe I wanted to kill the abuser?"