Sylvia Horowitz could have been a mighty suffragette, but she was born to non-religious working-class parents in 1919, a year before women won the vote. After that, she didn’t waste a single year, which altogether amounted to a total of 101.
She was enrolled at Girls Commercial High School, in Brooklyn, to learn trades suitable to women, but she swore off typewriting in favor of art, so she and classmates practiced life drawing by posing nude in Sylvia’s tenement bedroom. A favored model was classmate Edythe Marrenner, who became Susan Hayward (pity about the name change). Sylvia’s baby brother, Bob (later an electronics genius who pioneered cable television and perfected the dot-matrix and color printers), was entrepreneurial even at age 10. He charged friends five cents to peek over the transom; the price was double that if Edythe was posing. Fifty years later, the elegant but never vain Sylvia went topless on an Italian beach after her first mastectomy, just to keep her daughter company.