her name is donyale luna. so she said. although her birth certificate claimed otherwise, she insisted that her father (who was killed when she was 18) had a last name of luna.
in fact she spent most of her short life denying her african-american heritage. this was a well known fact. a family member once described luna as being a "very weird child, even from birth, living in wonderland, a dream." and so in her crafted wonderland, she became an exotic mixture of several different heritages, a wonderland that took her far away from peggy anne freeman, the beautiful, but troubled detroit-born girl.
still, today we know her as the first african-american model. in 1964, soon after photographer, david mccabe, discovered her on the street, she was off to new york city and booking modeling gigs left and right. a sketch of her appeared on the cover of harper's bazaar in 1965. and in 1966, she became the first black model to grace the cover of british vogue.
luna's acting career bustled in the late 60s into the early 70s. she appeared in several andy warhol movies, federico fellini's fellini satyricon, the rolling stones rock and roll circus, skidoo and salome. when asked by a new york times journalist if she thought her success in hollywood films would help the cause of other black actresses, luna responded:
"if it brings about more jobs for mexicans, asians,
native americans, africans, groovy. it could
be good, it could be bad. i couldn't care less."
after moving to london in the 60s, luna developed a love for lsd. in an interview she expressed this: "i think it's great. i learned that i like to live, i like to make love, i really do love someone, i love flowers, i love the sky, i like bright colors, i like animals ..." unfortunately, this love for lsd would result in an accidental overdose in may of 79. she was just 34. today she is survived by her daughter, dream cazzaniga, who works as a professional dancer in italy. dream's father, luigi cazzaniga, had photographed luna for her nude spread in playboy just 2 years earlier.
i became so engrossed in this mysterious individual and her life story. i started thinking of the movie mahogany and how great luna's story would be on screen. don't you think? i wish someone would make it happen.