Legends: A Model Life

Lauren Hutton Shows Beauty Is Ageless

Just above the Arctic Circle, where temperatures can drop to 50 degrees below zero, a dog sledding team crosses the frozen Alaskan wilderness. Riding this high-octane adventure is a dog musher with an unmistakable million-dollar gap-toothed smile.

Model Lauren Hutton spends her spring vacation on an 11-day, 200-mile frozen expedition because dog sledding "is one of the things that makes me happiest. Puts a big smile on my face."

As Correspondent Troy Roberts reports, Lauren Hutton's wanderlust has taken her around the world more than a dozen times to far-flung places like Zambia and Java, Botswana and Burma.

She was bitten by the travel bug as a young girl but her first big adventure, the one that would ultimately change her life, was to New York City at the age of 21 when fashion models were largely statuesque European women lacquered in makeup.

"They didn't want me," the Florida backwoods native says of the city's top modeling agencies.

For starters, her five-foot, seven-inch frame was an inch shorter than the minimum for models. And then there was the gap between her teeth, now her trademark.

"I found wax that I would mold and stick between my teeth," recalls Hutton, who went on to prove the skeptics wrong, gracing the cover of Vogue a record 25 times, and landing the industry's first million-dollar modeling contract with Revlon cosmetics.

She took a day's pay for a model, typicaly $300, up to $25,000, changing the whole modeling business almost overnight.

An acting career followed but it never matched her modeling success, and as she approached her 40s, the lucrative modeling career wasn't what it use to be either.

"Revlon fired me at 41, ten years after I started," she says. "It was a sad, bad time because I was going through the thing of trying to turn 40."

It took years before she could embrace herself as a woman of middle age, but once she did, Hutton pushed the fashion industry to do the same.

"My generation of '60s girls, now women, aren't gonna stop wanting to be attractive because they turned 40 or 50," she says. "So I said you've got to show us in the magazines. So they showed me."

Today, at 58, Hutton is still proving beauty is ageless. "She's not phony," Photographer Francesco Scavullo says. "She's not a model. She's the real thing."

After four decades in front of the camera, Hutton is embarking on yet a new career: entrepreneur. She's formulated a line of cosmetics for older women, called "Lauren Hutton's Good Stuff."

In 2000, Hutton's fascination with extremes almost killed her. Her friend Dennis Hopper was with Hutton on a celebrity motorcycle ride through the Nevada desert.

"She's got a lot of balls, she's got a lot of heart", says Hopper of Hutton, "But it sure is fun being with her."

As they were about to head out on their motorcycles, Hopper and fellow biker Jeremy Irons noticed Hutton had come unprepared. Hopper gave her a reinforced leather jacket and Irons insisted that she replace her helmet.

"She had on a little helmet, sort of tied under her chin," Hopper recallls. "It was cute. And Jeremy came up to her and said, 'You got to be kidding.' He took it off her and gave her a proper helmet."

Several hours into the ride, Hutton sped ahead of the group, traveling at over 100 miles an hour, and maneuvering around a sharp turn, hit a patch of soft gravel and lost control.

"I went into the ravine," Hutton says, "and then it just, like, swooped me straight up in the air. And I went 20 feet in the air. The bike came straight down and exploded."

When Hopper finally reached her he thought she was dead, "a leg going one way, an arm going another."

"My ribs had gone into my lungs," Hutton says, "and I was on life support systems. It was very, very, very close."

A year and a half later, after a great deal of physical therapy, she is flirting with life again. "People say you're flirting with death but really you're flirting with life," she says.

Only a few things scare her, she says: "I'm afraid of being useless. I'm afraid of not loving anybody. I'm afraid of anybody not loving me."

Although single now, for nearly 30 years, she was involved with Bob Williamson, who showed her the world and took charge of her finances. But when he died, Hutton discovered Williamson had been unfaithful and had squandered her $11 million fortune.

"How could I be so dumb?" Hutton asks of herself. "I wanted someone to take care of all the business, and the grownup stuff," she says. "I wanted a protective male circle that would hold me and love me and take care of me."

Now approaching 60, with no immediate family of her own, Hutton chooses to see the world on her own terms and have fun on the journey, whether it means diving off the coast of Belize or dog sledding in Alaska.

"And that's the point," she says. "Life is what we do when we're on the way to live it."

  • Mary-Jayne McKay

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