Palm Beach County Adolescence Inspires Supermodel's New Cause

Christy Turlington in an ad for RED
Christy Turlington in an ad for RED
Flickr: jvhseo

Christy Turlington turned 40 this year, and despite having spent a good portion of those years jet-setting to exotic locations, strutting down runways, and hanging with friends like Bono, the memories that have recently taken hold of her were formed 30 years ago in Palm Beach County, the last place she had a remotely normal life.

Born to a Salvadoran mother who was a flight attendant and a father who was a pilot for Pan Am, Turlington grew up in Danville, California. In 1979, when Turlington was 10, her father's flight-instructor job brought the family cross-country to South Florida. In this month's Vogue, she recalls being seized by a sudden interest in her Latin American roots:

"In Danville, everyone was pretty much the same," says Turlington. "This was another nice suburban area, near Boca Raton, but a brutal police beating created outrage; there were race riots and curfews. The Mariel refugees were coming in from Cuba every day; there was a huge Hispanic community of Cubans, Colombians, Nicaraguans, and people from El Salvador, where the war was going on. My mom was very vague about it all. It made us wonder where we belonged--what was our culture?

Hmm. A "nice suburban area near Boca Raton"? Could be a dozen cities.

And an archive search of Turlington articles offers few clues about exactly what city she spent those formative years in. The police beating and race riots must be the Arthur McDuffie case in Liberty City.

Wherever the supermodel-to-be was, it formed a lasting impression that ultimately gave rise to her passion for improving international health care and a partnership with CARE, the humanitarian organization.

Turlington, who's married to actor Ed Burns, has also been involved with RED, the organization led by Bono that fights AIDS in Africa.

Her father, Dwain Turlington, died in 1997 from lung cancer, an event that brought a halt to Turlington's own smoking and led to her involvement in the anti-tobacco website, smokingisugly.com.

Another beautiful person who found her purpose in Florida, Carrie Prejean has some catchin' up to do.


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