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Ophelia DeVore

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Information about Ophelia DeVore

Profile image of Ophelia DeVore

Profession

Category:
StyleMakers
Occupation(s):
Fashion and Talent Entrepreneur

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
Turkey (Dark Meat)
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hawaii
Favorite Quote:
Comment allez-vous?

Birthplace

Born:
8/12/1922
Birth Location:
Edgefield, South Carolina

Profession

Category:
StyleMakers
Occupation(s):
Fashion and Talent Entrepreneur

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Red
Favorite Food:
Turkey (Dark Meat)
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hawaii
Favorite Quote:
Comment allez-vous?

Birthplace

Born:
8/12/1922
Birth Location:
Edgefield
See how Ophelia DeVore is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Pioneering entrepreneur Ophelia DeVore was born on August 12, 1922 in Edgefield, South Carolina. Her father, John Walter DeVore, was of German and French descent and her mother, Mary Emma Strother, was a combination of Native American and African American. During the 1920s, DeVore attended segregated schools until age nine, when she moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina to live with her uncle, John Strother, who was co-owner of the African American transportation system, Safeway Bus Company. In 1933, her parents sent her to New York City to live with her great-aunt, Stella Carter, in order to complete her studies. DeVore received her diploma from Hunter College High School and attended New York University where she studied mathematics and languages.

Having attended the Vogue School of Modeling in New York, DeVore became one of the first African American models in the America in 1938 at the age of sixteen. Keenly aware of how African Americans were stereotypically depicted in the printed media, she made it her mission to change these images. In 1946, with the help of four friends, she founded the Grace Del Marco Modeling Agency and in 1948, she opened the Ophelia DeVore School of Self-Development and Modeling. Since then, thousands of people have been nurtured by her agency including Diahann Carroll, Barbara McNair, Cicely Tyson, Richard Roundtree and Raymond St. Jacques. DeVore made a name for herself in Europe as well as in America. She is credited for entering Cecelia Cooper, an African American dancer, into the Miss Festival beauty contest at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival, which she won. In 1960, LeJeune Hundley also from DeVore’s agency was crowned Miss Festival at the Cannes Film Festival.

In addition to her modeling agency, she owns The Columbus Times, a Georgia-based newspaper begun by her second husband, the late Vernon Mitchell. She has maintained the thirty-two year old paper’s strong journalistic excellence and emphasis on African American life and history. Due to her business acumen, she has served as consultant to many of America’s Fortune 500 corporations. DeVore has received more than 200 awards and honors from corporate, political, educational, governmental and social agencies.

DeVore lives in New York with her family.

See how Ophelia DeVore is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ophelia DeVore's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ophelia DeVore lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ophelia DeVore describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ophelia DeVore talks about her parents' interracial marriage and her identity as an American
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ophelia DeVore talks about her father, John DeVore
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ophelia DeVore describes her parents' personalities
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ophelia DeVore recounts her earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ophelia DeVore describes meditating as a child and her early determination to change perceptions of people of color
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ophelia DeVore remembers holiday celebrations as a child
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ophelia DeVore talks about mimicking her mother's poise and attending boarding school
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ophelia DeVore remembers living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with her Uncle John Strother, co-owner of Safeway Bus Company
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Ophelia DeVore talks about attending the white Stitt Junior High School in New York City, New York
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Ophelia DeVore talks about a memorable experience at the Cannes Film Festival
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Ophelia DeVore talks about attending the white Stitt Junior High School in New York City, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ophelia DeVore recalls her early years in the fashion industry
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ophelia DeVore describes the founding of Grace Del Marco and attending the Vogue School of Modeling in New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ophelia DeVore talks about the beginning of her charm school in 1948 and the departure of her co-founders from Grace Del Marco
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ophelia DeVore describes her co-founders at the Grace Del Marco Agency
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ophelia DeVore talks about her first husband and integrating her children into her business
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ophelia DeVore talks about working as a fashion columnist
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ophelia DeVore recalls the events leading up to her heart attack in her early twenties
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ophelia DeVore talks about training her models for fashion shows
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ophelia DeVore recalls the models of color that broke into the fashion industry
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ophelia DeVore talks about starting ABC's 'Spotlight in Harlem' with Ralph Cooper
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Ophelia DeVore remembers HistoryMaker Diahann Carroll's breakthrough in 'Jazz Train' and 'Chance of a Lifetime'
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Olivette Taylor shares her testimonial about Ophelia DeVore
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Devette Taylor shares her testimonial about Ophelia DeVore
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Patricia Myers shares her testimonial on Ophelia DeVore
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Eleanor Williams shares her testimonial on Ophelia DeVore
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Barbara Adamoli, a teacher at the Ophelia DeVore School, shares her testimonial on Ophelia DeVore
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Pamela Pryor, co-president of the Ophelia DeVore School alumni association, shares her testimonial on Ophelia DeVore
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Catherine Peppers, a teacher at the Ophelia DeVore School, shares her testimonial on Ophelia DeVore
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Camille Petty shares her testimonial on Ophelia DeVore
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dell Pinckney, one of the first students at the Ophelia DeVore School, shares her testimony
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ophelia DeVore talks about guiding Cecelia Cooper's historic win as Miss Cannes Festival 1959
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ophelia DeVore describes Helen Williams' historic feature as a model in Johnson & Johnson's "Modess...because" ad campaign
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ophelia DeVore talks about LeJeune Hundley's coronation as Miss Cannes Festival 1960
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ophelia DeVore talks about her husband, Vernon Mitchell, publisher of the Columbus Times
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ophelia DeVore recalls her role as a marketing consultant at Johnson & Johnson, and Schering-Plough Corporation in getting black models on TV
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ophelia DeVore talks about HistoryMaker Diahann Carroll's start in television and her marketing strategy that appealed to whites and blacks alike
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ophelia DeVore talks about how she met her second husband, Vernon Mitchell
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ophelia DeVore talks about the Nigerian Civil War
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Ophelia DeVore talks about working as an investigative journalist in Nigeria during the Nigerian Civil War
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Ophelia DeVore details her lawsuit against Life magazine in 1971
  • Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Ophelia DeVore talks about the racism she encountered in the modeling industry
  • Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Ophelia DeVore talks about Beverly Johnson, Vogue's first African American model, and her lawsuit against Life magazine
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ophelia DeVore remembers her students including Cicely Tyson, Bea Richards, HistoryMaker Susan Taylor, Gil Noble, and Richard Roundtree
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ophelia DeVore recalls how she helped ABC's first black newscaster Melba Tolliver get in the door
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ophelia DeVore describes her plans to go into the nursing industry
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ophelia DeVore talks about Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt, Emily Post and her training at the Vogue School of Modeling in New York City, New York
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ophelia DeVore talks about her health issues and her pride in her children
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ophelia DeVore talks about the Columbus Times
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ophelia DeVore describes the importance of history
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ophelia DeVore describes her hopes for the African American community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ophelia DeVore reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Ophelia DeVore talks about how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Ophelia DeVore and Camille Petty talk about the Ophelia DeVore School alumni association and the school's nursing initiative, pt.1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Ophelia DeVore and Camille Petty talk about the Ophelia DeVore School alumni association and the school's nursing initiative, pt.2