FROM PRESTON ON THE EASTERN SHORE OF MARYLAND TO NEW YORK CITY
Jean Patchett grew up in a small town and was from the large Patchett family who’s roots are documented back to 1726.
Growing up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland as a child was pretty much uneventful with one big exception… my cousin was Jean Patchett, a famous Vogue cover model in New York City. And for the Patchett family, Jean’s fame was exciting.
I was just 1 year old when Jean went to New York City and had her first Vogue cover in 1948. But it wasn’t until 1950, when I was about 3 years old, that I actually got to be around her. As a child of 3, I don’t really remember much about the day except that it was a big event with lots of relatives, including my famous cousin Jean. This Patchett family reunion was intended to honor our grandparents. However, the real star of the day was Jean Patchett, as she was the center of everyone’s attention. From photos taken that day, Jean appeared to be natural, really down to earth and having a good time as she spent time chatting with relatives. Jean was funny and very entertaining and when the boys wanted to play baseball Jean joined in, She was the pitcher for this game and held her own quite well. When our cousin Roger Patchett went to bat the ball he hit it directly, however the ball headed toward Jean and struck her on the cheek. Everyone was shocked, Roger was stunned he hit the ball into Jean’s beautiful face. He thought he’d hurt Jean, damaged her face and ruined her modeling career in New York. After the ladies checked her out Jean announced she was fine and then assured her cousin Roger she was not hurt to put an end to his fears. Jean was such a good sport we admired her so much.
In the months and years ahead, Jean’s name and images became quite familiar, and during the holidays Jean was table talk. The Patchett’s were indeed proud of her accomplishments and celebrity status.”Here are some pictures of Jean!” Mom would say out loud. Seated at the dining table, Mom would look thru page after page of fashion magazines pointing out pictures of Jean to me. My Mom was always on the lookout for Jean’s photos. I got to know my cousin Jean through her pictures on magazine covers and on the fashion pages. Mom would point out Jean’s trademark mole to the right of her eye, arched eye brow and red lips. In the 50s, Jean’s image seemed to be everywhere. Jean Patchett was featured on Edward R. Murrow’s CBS TV show ‘Person To Person’. Murrow had various conversations with Jean and her husband Louis Auer V, and we got a peek at different rooms in Jean’s home. Our neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Teague, took Polaroid photos of Jean while watching the program and gave us one! This was really neat!
For Thanksgiving, 1955, Jean was home from New York and staying with her Mom in Preston, Maryland. We kids were going to Aunt Mary’s house, to see our famous cousin. Uncle Edward packed us into his Ford and drove us to Preston that morning. After arriving we sat patiently side by side on a sofa in Aunt Mary’s living room waiting for Jean’s arrival. After what seemed forever, I heard footsteps descending the stairs. I looked up and it was Jean! She was so lovely, I was almost speechless. I remember this moment like it was yesterday. She was wearing a white blouse, grey skirt, heels and a long strand of pearls! She greeted us with a smile and a hug. We were enchanted as she took the time to answer our questions that Thanksgiving Day. Jean was our star, and we fell in love with her. During my high school days in 1964, an immaculately dressed new teacher, Mrs. Jaqueowitz was calling the class roll. When she reached my name, Daniel Patchett, she asked, “Are you related to the fashion model Jean Patchett?” Lowering my hand I said with pride, “Yes I am, she’s my cousin.” Mrs. Jaqueowitz commented, “It must be exciting to have such a famous family member.” I modestly said, “Yes it is.”
During the 1950s Jean modeled with Gita Hall a Vogue Model and later Hollywood actress. Jean and Gita became friends during their photo assignments. Jean wanted to have children and was having no lock at conceiving a baby. Jean expressed her disappointment to Gita her friend & confidant. Gita told Jean she was welcome to borrow her baby for the weekend to see if having a baby around the house would help get her in the mood to conceive! They both had a big laugh about Gita’s offer. After 1962 Jean and her husband Louis adopted two children, a boy Bart and a girl Amy.
In 1967, a friend’s mother, Margret Orr, showed me an article in a magazine with a write-up and picture of Jean. Jean Patchett was retired from modeling at the time and this cameo feature spoke of Jean’s fame as a model of the 50s & 60s. I discovered it wasn’t only relatives who followed Jean’s career, but other people as well from the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
When I first moved to Lake Placid, NY in the 1970s, I met an interior decorator named Mrs. Corrin Schwartz. During a conversation with her, Corrin asked, “Are you related to Jean Patchett?” I smiled and answered, “yes”. I told her that Jean’s father, James Frank Patchett, and my father Kenneth LeCompte Patchett were brothers, making Jean and I first cousins. To my surprise, Corrin told me she actually knew Jean during the period they lived in the Methodist Woman’s Hotel in New York City in the late 1940’s. She and Jean were modeling at the time, and friends. Corrin was most complimentary of Jean. Mrs. Schwartz spoke of Jean’s career, and some events during the era, including Jean’s marriage to Louis Auer V in 1952.
Memories of Jean are woven throughout my lifetime. This website is created in an effort to share these recollections and keep them alive. For me working weekly on locating photos, ads and newspapers carefully conserving originals and cataloging and making digital copies is a labor of love and passion for my cousin Jean. Producing this web site, Jean Patchett Facebook site & video about Jean modeling work I feel close and it’s exciting to share with people her many images. It’s great to know the interest in Jean Patchett is alive and still making a contribution to the world of fashion as is seen in the renewd interest by Chanel in their Ads using Jean’s Iconic Vogue Cover from January 1950 by Photographer Erwin Blumenfeld. Jean Patchett’s immaculate red mouth, penciled left eye and natural beauty mark became an icon for an entire decade. This cover showed the beautiful detail of Jean’s face and helped create the “Doe Eye” look. I’ve discovered that from Jean’s early modeling days in 1948 to the present day 2012 Jean Patchett has always been admired and sought after Vogue Model.