Can the world ever forget Vikki Dougan, the model who was once known as “The Back” of Hollywood? Vikki was a provocateur who turned heads during her prime, and many decades later, people who saw her in her acts and people who only heard about her still talk about the influence the model wielded through her famous backless dress.
Vikki Dougan was born Edith Tooker in 1929 in Brooklyn, New York, and was soon sent by her mother to live in boarding school in upstate New York.
As a teenager, she began winning beauty pageants, including Miss Coney Island and the eighth annual New York Skate Queen contest, which led to a lucrative modeling career.
Her agent recommended she change her name and she took the first name Vikki, after actress Vickie Lester, and began using her mother’s maiden name, Dougan, as her own last name.
In 1956, publicity-man Milton Weiss had the idea of promoting Vikki using a backless dress to garner publicity. The dresses were not just backless. Their line was cut down to the bum crack.
The idea was to gain a contrast with the fashion for models and actresses with large bosoms, such as Jayne Mansfield. Like in every other walk of life, sexism fared well in the industry of movies.
Milton also gave Dougan the nickname “the Back” to stir the commotion even more. He fixed her to attend parties and happenings in her shiny clothes. Soon, the photographers noticed.
In 1953, photographer Ralph Crane photographed Dougan for Life magazine, and their October 26 edition featured Dougan on the cover. The pictures became iconic.
On March 29, 1957, the Hollywood Today column headlined “Vikki Dougan … Backs Into a Film Career,” Erskine Johnson suggested that Ms. Dougan’s dresses are “lower in the back than a teenager’s hot rod.”
Another Hollywood correspondent referred to her as “the most notorious ca-rear girl in town.” She was praised for her “marvelous exits” in the June 1957 issue of Playboy.
In January 1964, Cavalier magazine featured twelve nude photographs of Vikki Dougan in a pictorial entitled “The Back is Back”.
Dougan brought a lawsuit against the magazine, stating that the magazine did not have permission to publish them. The photographs had been posed for Playboy but Dougan had subsequently declined to let Playboy publish the photographs.
However, over time the interest in Vikki Dougan’s fetching backside waned. The starlet seemed to disappear from Hollywood as quickly as she had arrived. The daring pin-up girl was forgotten along with so many other names trying to make it in showbiz.
Vikki was married twice. At the age of 16, she said yes to William Symons, the owner of the photo studio where she did her photoshoots. In 1950 they had a daughter Debbie but the marriage didn’t last long.
At the age of 25, Vikki married actor James R. Sweeney. But two and a half years later, she filed for divorce again. Vikki also dated famous men such as Frank Sinatra (briefly) and actor Glenn Ford.
(Photo credit: Life Magazine / New York Times / HeavyNG.com / Grunge.com / Wikimedia Commons / Britannica / Medium).