Naomi Sims on the cover of Cosmopolitan
Naomi Sims on the cover of Cosmopolitan

NEW YORK, Aug 4, 2009 / FW/ — Considered the first black supermodel, Naomi Sims passed away at the age of 61 after battling with breast cancer, reported CNN.

The face that became associated with the ‘Black is Beautiful’ movement, Naomi Sims gained worldwide fame when she became the first black woman to grace the cover of The Ladies Home Journal.

Born in Oxford, Mississippi, the youngest of three daughters born to John and Elizabeth Sims, Naomi moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania while in her teens, where she attended Westinghouse High School. Later on, she moved to New York to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology where while still a student, she started working as a model and illustrator.

From those humble beginnings, Sims went on to earn as much as $1,000 a week – a princely sum in the 1960s – walking for high profile designers like Halston and even landing a TV campaign with AT&T. In 1968 she was the first black model to appear on the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal. She also appeared on the cover of the October 17, 1969 issue of Life magazine.

When she retired from modeling in 1973, she decided to go into the beauty business and created a successful wig collection fashioned after the texture of relaxed black hair.

She authored several books on modeling, health, and beauty, including All About Health and Beauty for the Black Woman, How to Be a Top Model and All About Success for the Black Woman, as well as an advice column for teenage girls in Right On! magazine.

She died of breast cancer on August 1, 2009, aged 61, in Newark, New Jersey. Her 1973 marriage to Michael Findlay ended in divorce in 1991. She is survived by her son, Bob Findlay, a granddaughter, and her elder sister, Betty Sims. Her eldest sister, Doris, died in 2008.

According to, funeral Services will be held Thursday August 6th, 2009 at 11am St. Ignatius Loyola Parish 980 Park Avenue at 84th St New York, NY 10028