Model and actress Beverly Johnson is known as the first African American woman to grace the cover of the American edition of “Vogue” in 1974. She has since appeared in over 500 magazine covers. Johnson opened the way for African American models in mainstream fashion, and also for future models like Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks. In 2006, she was awarded Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball, along with Coretta Scott King, Rosa Parks, Tina Turner and other female African Americans in entertainment, civil rights, and the arts. She was named by the New York Times as one of the most influential people in fashion in the 20th century. Johnson has appeared in several films and television series, including “Law & Order” (1992-1993), “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” (1994), “3rd Rock from the Sun” (1998), “ 54” (1998) and “Crossroads” (2002). She was a celebrity judge on the reality TV series “She's Got the Look” (from 2008 to 2009). Johnson wrote a book titled “Beverly Johnson's Guide to a Life of Health and Beauty.”
Apart from her two marriages (with Billy Potter from 1971 to 1973 and then Danny Sims from 1997 to 1979), Johnson had a longterm relationship with actor Chris Noth. She also dated professional golfer Mark Burk.
Childhood and Family:
Beverly Johnson was born on October 13, 1952, and raised in a middle class family in Buffalo, New York. As a youngster, she became a champion swimmer and planned to be a lawyer. She later majored in criminal justice at Northeastern University. It was while in college that she tried her hand at modeling.
Ms. Johnson has been married and divorced twice. Her first marriage to Billy Potter lasted from 1971 and 1973. She married her second husband Danny Sims from May 8, 1977 to 1979. The couple shared one child.
Beverly Johnson kicked off her modeling career while still in college with a stint for “Glamour” magazine, and soon started working steadily. Her career took off when she became the first African American model to appear on the cover of American “Vogue” in August 1974. Her appearance in the cover changed the beauty ideal in fashion and by 1975, major American fashion designers began hiring African American models. In 1975, Johnson grace the cover of the French edition of “Elle” magazine, making her the first African American woman to do so. She would go on to appear in hundreds magazine covers.
Johnson branched out to acting in 1976 when she landed a role on “Deadly Hero,” a drama/thriller movie helmed by Ivan Nagy and starring Don Murray, Diahn Williams and James Earl Jones. Later that same year, she debuted on television with a guest spot in “Emergency!.” Johnson worked with Calvin Lockhart, Vicki Baltimore and Joan Blondell in the action/drama film “The Baron” (1977), directed and written by Phillip Fenty, and appeared in the made for TV film “ Crisis in Sun Valley” (1978), with Dale Robinette, Taylor Lacher and Bo Hopkins. In 1979, she was cast as Dr. Anansa Linderby in the adventure film “Ashanti,” produced by Georges-Alain Vuille, and directed by Richard Fleischer. The same year, Johnson also released a recording album on Buddah Records.
After having only one acting gig in the 1980s, in the 1980s TV film “ The Sky Is Gray,” opposite Olivia Cole, James Bond III and Margaret Avery, Johnson worked largely as an actress during the 1990s. She made guest appearances in television shows such as “Hunter” (1990, as Allistar Lang), “ Law & Order” (2 episodes, 1992-1993), “Martin” (1993, as Ms Trinidad), “ Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” (1994, as Mrs. Cox), “ The Wayans Bros.” (1995, as Miss Kita), “Red Shoe Diaries” (1996, as Lorri), “The Parent 'Hood” (1996), “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” (1997, as Fashion Director) and “3rd Rock from the Sun” (1998, as Prell). She also appeared in a number of films. She played Doris Luger in “Loaded Weapon 1” (1993), starring Emilio Estevez, Samuel L. Jackson and Jon Lovitz, Michaela in “ The Cover Girl Murders” (1993, TV), starring Lee Majors, Jennifer O'Neill and Adrian Paul, Jane Marlowe Morrison in “ A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Wicked Wives” (1993, TV), Barbara in Nick Vallelonga's “A Brilliant Disguise” (1994), starring Lysette Anthony, Anthony John Denison and Corbin Bernsen, and Alana Durand in “Ray Alexander: A Menu for Murder” (1995, TV), starring Louis Gossett Jr. as Ray Alexander. In 1997, she appeared in “Crossworlds” (1997), “ True Vengeance” (1997, Video), “How to Be a Player” (1997) and Mark Christopher 's “54” (1998), starring Ryan Phillippe, Salma Hayek and Neve Campbell.
In the new millennium, Johnson played the supporting role of Sandra Collins in “Down 'n Dirty” (2001), a crime/drama film directed by and starring Fred Williamson. In the Britney Spears failed vehicle “Crossroads” (2002), she appeared as the mother Zoë Saldana's character Kit.
Between 2008 and 2009, Johnson served as a celebrity judge on the first two seasons of the TV Land series “She's Got the Look,” a reality series in which women over 35 compete for a modeling contract and magazine spread.
In 2010, Johnson appeared as Kate in an episode of “Meet the Browns” called “Meet the Other Man.”