While Black models on the covers of major magazine is commonplace, it wasn’t always that way. Almost 37 years ago, model Darine Stern made history by become the first Black woman to grace the cover of Playboy Magazine.
Rising from the embers of the Vietnam conflict, Woodstock, The Summer of Love and Marvin Gaye’s classic “What’s Going On” album, Playboy art designer Len Willis had a burst of inspiration. Using a chair with the company’s logo, photographer Richard Fegley shot the iconic cover featuring Stern which has become a classic for the magazine.
While she was the first Black model to grace the cover, she wasn’t the first in the magazine. Six years earlier, Jennifer Jackson was featured as Playboy’s first Black Playmate in March 1965.
The Chicago-native continued her career as a high-profile model working in the 1970s and 1980s. During that span, she was represented by Ford Models, Nina Blanchard, Ellen Hart and Shirley Hamilton Models of Chicago.
In 1994, she died of complications due to breast cancer at the age of 46.
While Playboy has become a multi-billion enterprise, we salute the woman who put some much-needed flavor on their cover.