Beverly Lee is to models of East Asian decent what Naomi Sims and Beverly Johnson are to black models or what Laura Alvarez is to Latina models. By that, I mean that she opened doors in the modeling trade for women of her own ethnicity. She made it possible for East Asian (or Oriental, an archaic term) women to be seen as having modeling potential . . . and become top models themselves.
The black-and-white picture above, which features Beverly Lee in a maillot and striking a stunning, glamorous pose by sitting on something as incredibly utilitarian as a bathroom sink, and the color photo below showing her modeling another maillot, ought to make it obvious why she was such a trail blazer in modeling. Her beauty was too extraordinary to be denied.
She modeled for Christian Dior, the Natori loungewear store, and Macy's, along other clients, and she was a top runway model in the 1970s. Despite her breakthrough, though, her Asian background would sometimes be played up in a stereotypical manner.
Nevertheless, the impression Beverly Lee left on modeling was as undeniable as her beauty.
She had a Web site devoted to advice for aspiring models, using her own career as an example, but it has since been retired.