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Sarah "Sally" Kirkland (Phinney)

Birthdate: (77)
Death: 1989 (77)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Col. Robert Truman Phinney and Ruth Ida Phinney
Wife of Frederic McMichael Kirkland
Mother of Sally Kirkland

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sally Kirkland

Sally Kirkland (1 July 1912–1 May 1989) was a manager at Lord & Taylor, a fashion editor at Vogue magazine and served as the only fashion editor at Life magazine between 1947 and 1969.

Early life

Born as Sarah "Sally" Phinney in a small town called El Reno (about 10 miles West of Oklahoma City) in Canadian County, Oklahoma, she was the daughter of Col. Robert Truman Phinney and his wife Ruth Ida "Minnie" Naill. She had one brother Robert Phinney, Jr., who was a Vice President of Braniff. In both 1920 and 1930 Sally was living in Washington DC with her parents. She Graduated from Vassar College in 1934. Sally married in "the early Autumn" of 1938 in New York City to Frederic McMichael Kirkland, the son of a wealthy Pennsylvania Main Line family; their only child was the actress Sally Kirkland, her mother's namesake.


After graduating from Vassar College in 1934, she worked in the college shop at Lord & Taylor, then the headquarters for the best casual American clothes.


In 1939, Kirkland became an assistant editor of Vogue magazine and, by 1946, she was the magazine's fashion editor.


Kirkland joined Life magazine after working as a correspondent in the Pacific during World War II, and from 1947 to 1969 she was the publication's fashion editor; Kirkland has been credited with making the weekly magazine influential in the area of international fashion. She was noted as the first fashion editor to do multiple-model sittings, in which a dozen or so models would be stretched across one and even two pages; her innovation was widely copied. She stopped traffic in the Place de la Concorde in Paris to get a fashion picture. A cover photograph of Sybil Connally, the Irish designer, put Ireland on the fashion map. She put Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Faye Dunaway and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis on Life magazine as fashion icons.

She was one of a "trio of formidable and colorful women" the other two being: Mary Letherbee,movie editor; and Mary Hamman, modern living editor. Together they led the "back of the book" at Life and were given free rein by Ed Thompson as managing editor and later editor in chief. After she left the magazine, she wrote a book about designer Claire McCardell and contributed articles to the RAM Report, a monthly trade journal.


Kirkland received the "Order of the Star of Solidarity" in 1954 from the Italian Government for her reports on Italian clothes. "I was secretly pleased", she told a friend, "because the medal was green and gold and looked well on an orange evening dress I had to whip up for the affair."

Together with Grace Kelly and Vera Maxwell (the designer), Kirkland received a Neiman-Marcus award in 1955 for her contribution to fashion.


Kirkland died of emphysema, aged 77, at St. Vincent's Hospital, New York City. She lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

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Sally Kirkland's Timeline

October 31, 1941
Age 29
Age 77