Cathee Dahmen was a popular model in the '60s and '70s. She was half German on her father's side and half Native American on her mother's, but raised in Minnesota. She was the fourth of nine children. After her father died, her mother remarried. During her childhood and early teens, she was an overall good student until she became boy–obsessed, tattooing the name "Jim" in small blue letters six inches above her left knee when she was thirteen. She also tattooed her initials ("CVD" for Cathee Veronica Dahmen) on her left hand between her forefinger and thumb, and on each wrist she tattooed a tiny blue dot. She became pregnant at 17 but her mother gave the daughter (nicknamed Cricket) up for adoption in 1963. Cathee almost became a dropout, but she went to live with an uncle (artist George Morrison) in Rhode Island to complete school. She wrote poetry, modeled a bit, but was rather "plain" until she was discovered by Antonio Lopez (who became an acclaimed fashion illustrator) after he drew a cartoon of her, only with his own curly hair on her head. She liked the effect of the kinky hair and her own huge eyes, and decided to copy the hairstyle by getting a perm. She had to get a very low–brow beauty shop to perm her hair in the style of Clara Bow and Shirley Temple, which even Antonio (in an interview for Eye) admitted was a bit "ugly". Antonio introduced her to the fashion world in New York, starting with Eileen Ford and Richard Avedon. She hit the high point in her career in the late sixties, working for Ford Models and appearing in fashion magazines like Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, Mademoiselle, Elle, and The New York Times. For a time, she was considered the main rival to Twiggy, but she refused this, saying "That's a touchy subject. I like Twiggy very much. She's very sweet and innocent . . . Twiggy's blonde, and her hair is straight. I have curly dark hair. And I'm taller. I'm 5 feet 7. They say she's 5 feet 7, but she's not . . . You know, she can't spell, and she's very... You know, she just needs Justin." Cathee's look advanced over the years, loosing her 'signature' hairstyle for a variety of looks, once even appearing without eyebrows.
Cathee became very much a part of the scene in New York City, living in the East Side and hanging out at the famous Max's Kansas City and the Electric Circus nightclub throughout the seventies and into the eighties. She married British actor Leonard Whiting in 1971 and moved to London. They had a daughter, Sarah. In 1977 they divorced, and she married singer Alan Merrill, with whom she had two children, Laura and Allan Jr. Cathee retired from modeling in 1980, and passed away from emphysema 1997.
Cathee on her look: "In real life, it's true I wear a mask just because I wear a lot of makeup. But psychologically, it's true also. People stop and look at my face. It's strange. It's a challenge. My hair, my eyes. It makes them stop and think. It makes them wonder. I guess that's why I wear a mask."
With Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall