The greatest supermodels of the 80's and 90's have maintained their legendary statuses decades since ruling fashion's international runways.
We know their faces. And we know them by their first names: Christy, Linda, Cindy, Naomi, Kate, Claudia, Yasmin. But what about 'Bert'?
That Roberta Chirko's name was never ingrained into our collective consciousness is unfortunate. To those who've appreciated her looks and her talent, she is just as endearing as her perpetually known contemporaries.
For success in the fashion industry and beyond, the all-American Roberta Chirko definitely had all the right stuff for her era. Fittingly, she was featured in Bryan Ferry's video from 1987 for 'The Right Stuff' (from his under-appreciated Bete Noire album.) Models and Bryan Ferry are an obvious combination, but watch closely for a special distinction with regards to this pairing.
In 'The Right Stuff', Chirko is seen wearing several different outfits. Ferry and company must have liked Roberta's looks more than that of a typical model to have her pretend to be various girls in the same music video. But that radiant smile--with those wonderfully unique, nearly-aligned moles on either side of her mouth--and bubbly energy are unmistakably Roberta's.
And witness this L'Oreal Paris commercial, which combines her dancing talent (Chirko was trained as a dancer before she embarked on a modeling career), her modeling prowess and her vivacious spirit all in one clip. The ad incorporates all of the elements that make Roberta Chirko a terrific model.
Born in Chicago, IL. and later raised in Washington, PA., Roberta Chirko's journey towards becoming an internationally adored fashion-plate began in 1982. Plucked out of obscurity, she rocketed to fashion stardom quickly. As Bonnie Barney who discovered her in Washington has explained, "You either have it or you don't--and Roberta has it."
According to Barney, Roberta Chirko had the overall look (and not just a few great assets) that a model needs in order to dazzle across all types of media. By the age of seventeen, Roberta Chirko was in demand as a model for The Ford Modeling Agency. Chirko spent her first working summer in NYC living in motherly Eileen Ford's home, learning the ropes under the industry maven's own tutelage.
Chirko's professional success also brought with it personal fulfillment. Appearing on the covers of the major fashion magazines, editorial pages, advertisements and music videos led to her being noticed by the man who would soon become her husband, bass guitarist Toby Myers. He fell in love with her at the sight of her modeling photos. Myers has described their story on his website:
"About 1987 I started noticing this girl's face on the cover of magazines. I'd be drooling in the checkout lane in the grocery 'cuz there'd she be with those big green eyes. So I had a long-term crush on this babe. Well, about '92 John M. [Mellencamp] meets this stunner named Elaine Irwin. We're touring, and when John would finally let me talk to her (2 months), I asked her if she knew Roberta Chirko and she goes, 'God yes, we used to be roommates in NYC when we were baby models!' I go, 'You gotta call her.' So she does. So I get to know Roberta on the phone 'cuz I'm in Europe and she's in NYC."
And their in-person meeting went just fine, it seems; more than three decades later, Roberta (or 'Berta', as she's affectionately called by friends and family) and Toby Myers are still married. They are living happily with their son in Indiana. That's the right stuff, right there.