Thursday, June 13, 2013

K Club Special Part 2 - Karen Bruun

Karen, like the other members of the K Club (1) dominated the world of catalog modeling for a long, long time.  She was born in Seattle but grew up in New York and got involved in modeling when she was just 15.

I assume that the $60 is her hourly rate?  If so, that is pretty good for back then.  However, I admit that I do not understand what the"5-6-7" and the 7 1/2b mean.  They must be measurements of some kind, perhaps some kind of shorthand?

She appeared in some girls magazines in the 60s like so many of the better known models did back then.

Is that Colleen in the bottom pic?  Probably so, she was on practically every page of those mags back then!

Of course, like the other K Clubbers, she was literally everywhere in print media during the 70s.

Here, she is in one of the sewing rags called Columbia Minerva (whose awesome displays of 70s fashions have been explored before and will be found on this blog in the future)!

Like the other K Clubbers, she appeared in a lot of other print ads besides catalogs.

A really nice pic of Karen!

In addition to  her popularity in catalogs, she was probably best known being one of the iconic Black Velvet girls.

This is the one and only pic of any of the K Clubbers (that I have found so far) in a liquor or tobacco ad.  Naturally, that gives me the opportunity to comment on the complete ridiculousness of these ads.  Does anyone really think that by drinking second rate scotch, that a beautiful women will fall all over you?  However, I like the Black Velvet approach of ONLY showing the girl - instead of some dude with 2 or 3 women draped over him (2).  It makes me think that "Heck yeah, maybe that girl really is available and wants me to drink with her all night, well maybe?!?". 

Of course, for us, Karen is best known for being everywhere in the catalogs of the 70s.  She was often paired with Kathy.  At times they seemed like sisters!

Kathy and Karen displaying the groovy fashions of the 70s!  How many times have we seen that!  That jumpsuit with the matching purse? / handbag? / giant beer kuzie?  is sooooo 70s!! 

Karen (along with Wendy Hill) on the cover of JCPenney's 1976 Spring Summer big book catalog!

Like I said before, her career was a long one.  Here is a pic from 1978 (3)!

Unfortunately, I must end this post on a sad note.  As many of you probably already know, Karen passed away in 2010 at the age of 59.  Below is a photo of her from 2000 and a link to her obit which gives a pretty good rundown of her career.


(1) For those of you that just stumbled across this incredibly awesome site, K Club is the term I use for four of the catalog models of 70s:  Kathy Loghry, Karen Bruun, Kay Campbell, and Colleen Corby.  Their names all begin with a hard K sound, hence the name.

(2) These old liquor ads are a hoot!  I wish the K Clubbers were in more of them because that would make for one fantastic post!  Back then, these ads were all serious like.  Remember that time wasn't that far removed from the Mad Men days of the 60s.  Nowadays, alcohol ads spoof these old ads with good effect as in "The Most Interesting Man in the World".  I have an old print liquor ad from the early 70s that I swear is the guy that Dos Equis copied that idea from.  

(3) Actually I have a pic of Karen from the early 80s which perfectly captures the spirit of THAT decade.  I almost included it here, but it fits better with another subject.


  1. Great Pics of Karen. I bet the 5-6-7 is her dress size and the 7b was her shoe size. Lovely, lovely model.

    1. Yeah, you're probably right. I thought that the 5-6-7 might be her measurements or dress size, but the 7b had me baffled - guys don't think in terms like that!

    2. LBP is correct on those numbers. And $60 was indeed her hourly rate. It was the top rate back then, the equivalent of $360 today (if that pic is from around 1970). It is from her agency's "headsheet", a list of the agency's models.

      In the "tattoo" pic, the bottom photo is actually Jill Twiddy, who I admit does comes close to resembling Colleen. That Black Velvet ad really shows off Karen's blonde hair, but I swear I always thought she was a redhead, or at least a strawberry blonde. (She did have freckles, after all.) Just look at all the other photos of her in this post and you'll see how the Black Velvet pic really sticks out as an almost unnatural color for her. (BTW, nice catch on Wendy Hill. For a long time I didn't even recognize her in the catalogs of the Seventies; she looked so different from her Sixties photos in Seventeen magazine.)

      I live on Staten Island. I was 10 years old when Karen was Miss Staten Island. (I wasn't aware of her existence back then, though.) She was one of my three favorites from the catalogs, the other two being Kathy and Colleen. I have to say, in that 2000 photo she looks as pretty as she did when she was a model. This is a long reply, I know, but since she was a fellow Staten Islander and a fav of mine, I kind of feel like I knew her, and it was sad to hear of her relatively early death.

  2. Yes, I am sad, too, but looking forward to more pictures of the group and love the look of those two together. Kathy and Karen - both so beautiful.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. To be honest I've been putting off this post for some time because I didn't quite know how to handle Karen's passing, so I hope the approach I took was appropriate.

  3. The $60 rate must have been in 1969 because that's the year the rate went to $75 per hour for top models. By the mid seventies it was up again. Karen was a sweet, hard working beautiful young women who died Way to young. This is a lovely blog that makes anyone who knew Karen sad. Karen and Kathy where good friends. Always enjoy the posts.

    1. Thanks for the feedback! It sounds like you know quite a bit about the industry so your comments are most appreciated! It is also good to learn that Karen and Kathy were good friends.