As with all Robert McGinnis models, she was stunning: the flaming red-orange hair, flaring out like Medusa’s; the flawless parchment-white skin, fit for a Brontë heroine; the smoldering, beckoning eyes. She was fiercely cerebral and had a marvelously dry wit, and both showed in her face. She was one of the last women who knew how to smoke glamorously.
Shere Hite would go on to win international fame as an authority on female sexuality. But in the 1960s she was merely a boho Ph.D. student living in a cramped Manhattan basement apartment, modeling to pay the rent. In contrast, by the mid–20th century Robert McGinnis was at the top of his game and one of the nation’s leading illustrators: his galér of lithe, leggy sirens, ripely sexualized and barely dressed, adorned countless dime-store crime novels and movie posters. Hite posed for many artists, but she was McGinnis’s muse. She died last month, at the age of 77.