Helen Williams, a Top Model in a Segregated Era, Is Dead at 87

She was one of the most photographed Black models of the 1950s and ’60s, seen mainly in magazines, like Ebony and Jet, aimed at the Black middle class.

Swan-necked and with an arched-eyebrow hauteur, Helen Williams was the aspirational face of the Black middle class in the 1950s and 60s — the most photographed, and highest paid, Black model of her era.

She was a frequent cover girl for Ebony, Jet and Tan magazines, and the face aligned with many of the products advertised within, from Kodak to Modess to Simplicity Patterns.

She was a ladylike beauty in Budweiser ads; a poised career girl smoking Kent cigarettes. She telegraphed luxury for Bulova

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