Maureen’s comp when she was modeling in Chicago.
Here we go again with one of my outstanding models….why would I highlight anyone else….Maureen was another of my models with a unique look, a cross between an all American girl and a femme fatale! She was always playing a part (that is what makes a model a success, in my opinion!) and did that perfectly so much so she has gone on to a successful career in television. She has defied the years and looks spectacular to this day…I really must know what my models are drinking to keep the years away, I want what they are having!!! Seriously! Let’s see what Maureen has to say, in her own words.
“I was a singer based out of Denver when I was approached to be a model. I was introduced to an agent from Paris Planning soon after and a year or so later, I hung up my singing career, (I was no Shelley MacArthur), and moved to Paris. I had always wanted to live in Europe and modeling made it possible. I worked almost every day and spent all my money on restaurants and traveling. Heaven for a girl from a working class background.
One of my favorite behind the scenes stories came when standing around waiting for my first job, the Valentino haute couture show to begin. everyone was racing around and acting very nervous. I couldn’t understand this because it wasn’t like they had to sing or perform or anything. They just had to make it to the end of the runway and then come back. I spotted a beautiful woman on the other side of the room who looked calm and she immediately looked familiar to me. I was convinced we went to high school together but I couldn’t think of her name. I asked the guy standing next to me if he knew who she was. He said, Do you mean Beverly Johnson? I wish I could say that this was the last time that has happened to me but I’ve made a career out sticking my feet in my mouth. I also signed with Ford in New York but wasn’t happy there. This was 1980 so it was still a bit dangerous and loud and dirty and everything that Paris was not. So back I went. Still playing hooky.
All this time, I knew I should be trying to find a way to be an actor. I heard that Chicago had a thriving theatre scene and I figured I would be able to support myself with modeling while I tried to find a way into the business. But Chicago was not buying what I was selling. Not for quite awhile. The first woman I met, (who shall remain nameless), didn’t believe that I had done the shows in Paris. I was dumbfounded that she would think I would lie about such a thing. She said she had been at the Valentino show and she didn’t see me in it. She carried a lot of weight in town and I was on her Absolutely NOT list. Once I finally started working, she would still pop up to torture me. Sometime later, someone hired me for a show and she said, “I have no idea who that is”. When she was reminded that I was a regular at the Apparel Center and Saks, etc, she said, “Oh yes, that’s the one that never brushes her hair”. Whatever. I learned a valuable lesson from her. Some people just aren’t going to like you. So just keep moving in the direction you want to go and try not to take things personally. Easier said than done, but I still try to practice that.
I had the opposite experience when I met Nena. There was no interrogation. She sized me up, expected professionalism and left me alone. I always loved a SAKS booking because Nena ran such a well-oiled machine. She expected you to bring your A game and you didn’t want to disappoint her. It was no easy task, however, standing next to D’arry or Jeanouche. Still two of the funniest women I’ve ever met. Through Nena, we met every big designer in the world. I always loved when Pauline Trigere came to town, (such a character). Also loved Jacqueline de Ribes and Donna Karan. But my favorite designer, by far, was Mark Heister! I adored his clothes. Such attention to detail and so glamorous. And the man himself was so lovely. A gentleman full of humility and grace. He is a world class talent.
On the catwalk.
Looking back, I can’t believe how lucky I was to get to make a living playing “how fast can you change clothes and then walk around for a bit”. And get to live in one of the great cities of America on top of it. I had the time of my life in Chicago. I met and befriended some of my favorite people on the planet there. I’ll never forget driving out of town headed to Los Angeles to start a new chapter. I looked in the rearview and thought it was raining. But it was tears. Buckets of them. I miss it still.
Maureen today, always a stunner!
Since then, I’ve pursued acting in earnest. I was lucky to be able to get some work in LA. When I got older, (back then it was illegal to get beyond a certain age), I moved to New York. Just because I always wanted to live there. I had no idea if I would get any acting work but the gods were with me, at least enough to support myself. A few years later, I met my future husband. He puts up with me and I adore him.
I still work now and then and hope springs eternal. I’m still ready for my big break. I feel so blessed to have had such a wonderful life so far, full of great memories. The best is yet to come.
Thank you, Nena, for being such a big part of my time in our beloved Chicago. Carry on.”
Thanks Maureen for sharing some of your journey with us. Let’s all watch for Maureen’s next TV stint, she is always worth watching, what a thrill to see one of our Chicago runway stars become a star in our homes! Love it!
All photos from Maureen Mueller.