PAULETTE HENDRIX PETTINELLA, AMONG FIRST FORD MODELS, DIES AT 89
Her “All American Girl” Image Was Big Business for Big Brands in Post WWII Era
WAYNE, NJ --- Paulette Hendrix Pettinella, one of the Ford Modeling Agency’s first recruits who helped to define the iconic image of the “all American girl,” died peacefully on September 6, 2019. She was 89.
After moving to New York in 1949 from Savannah, Georgia, Paulette Hendrix soon became a much sought after model. For two decades, her image regularly graced the pages of leading magazines and the billboards of New York’s Times Square. She was well known to many in the fashion and advertising worlds, and was in high demand by advertisers of the 1950s and 60s. For big brands seeking to identify with the rising American pride following WWII, Paulette Hendrix represented big business. And for top photographers, she could magically transform her look from wholesome to high fashion, enabling her to span both fashion and commercial work.
Her success was driven by a potent mix of discipline, focus, good looks and Southern charm. Combined, these qualities catapulted her to the main stage of the New York modeling scene. She became a familiar presence to American consumers — showcasing the new American lifestyle of the post WWII era. She embodied the values and optimism of the time, and helped illustrate for Americans what their lives could be.
Early on, she was a dancer at New York’s Copacabana. She worked alongside the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Perry Como and many other headliners of the time. But offers from Hollywood could not compete with her increasingly successful modeling career —or with her love for her new hometown—New York.
In 1951, she married Ferd Pettinella, a New York advertising executive. They settled on Washington Square where they raised their three children. The family moved to Franklin Lakes, NJ in 1971—in many ways living the lifestyle that Paulette helped to create. After Ferd’s death in 1989, she moved to Wayne, NJ.
Paulette Hendrix Pettinella is survived by her daughter, Pamela Pettinella of Minneapolis; two sons, Steven (Barbara) Pettinella of Hockessin, DE, and Richard Pettinella (Julia Sergeyeva) of Lincoln Park, NJ; and four grandchildren, Matthew Pettinella and Michelle McGee of Newark, Delaware, Rachel Pettinella of Sarasota, Florida and Sofya Yelizarova of Lincoln Park, NJ.