|In 2005, former president Bill Clinton escorted Eunice Johnson to her husband’s funeral in Chicago. (Jeff Roberson/Associated Press)|
Eunice Johnson; directed Ebony Fashion Fair; at 93
CHICAGO - Eunice Johnson, the widow of Ebony magazine founder John Johnson and a fashion maven who ran thousands of traveling runway shows aimed at black audiences, has died. She was 93.
Mrs. Johnson died Sunday of renal failure at her Chicago home, said Wendy Parks, a spokeswoman for Chicago-based Johnson Publishing Company.
Mrs. Johnson had been the director and producer of the Ebony Fashion Fair since 1961. The high fashion charity event that showcases black designers and models is staged in nearly 200 cities each year. Ads for the show have featured singer Aretha Franklin, and actor Richard Roundtree made his debut as a model with the show.
Along with her husband, Mrs. Johnson developed a popular makeup and skin-care line, Fashion Fair Cosmetics, for women of color. The products are sold in many high-end department stores.
She was a secretary-treasurer of Johnson Publishing, which produces JET and Ebony, two of the longest-running black-oriented magazines in the country.
“Mrs. Johnson has always been a woman ahead of her time,’’ the publisher said. She “made a tremendous impact on the fashion industry, showcasing the best in style on African-American models of various shapes, sizes, and skin tones.’’
Mrs. Johnson, an Alabama native, is credited with naming Ebony magazine.
John Johnson died of heart failure in 2005 in Chicago. He founded both magazines after World War II.
In a statement, Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago called Mrs. Johnson “a wonderful mother, faithful wife and business partner, and an extraordinary Chicagoan who gave liberally of her time and finances both locally and abroad.’’
Her daughter, Linda Johnson Rice, is head of the publishing company.