Margaux Louise Hemingway was born in Portland, Oregon, February 16, 1955, and was the older sister of actress Mariel Hemingway and the granddaughter of writer Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway was named for the wine, Château Margaux, which her parents, Puck and Jack Hemingway (eldest son of Ernest), were drinking the night she was conceived. In addition to Mariel, she had another sister, Joan. She grew up on her grandfather’s farm in Ketchum, Idaho.
At six feet tall, Hemingway experienced success as a model, including a million-dollar contract for Fabergé as the spokesmodel for Babe perfume in the 1970s. Her lucrative contract with Fabergé was the first million dollar contract ever awarded to a fashion model. She also appeared on the covers of Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, and appeared on the June 16, 1975 cover of Time dubbed as one of the “new beauties”. The September 1, 1975 cover issue of American Vogue christened Hemingway as “New York’s New Supermodel.”
In an E! True Hollywood Story that profiled Hemingway’s life, her mentor and close friend Zachary Selig discussed how he helped launch Hemingway’s early career with his initial marketing and public relations work as she became a global celebrity.
During the height of her modelling career in the mid-to late 1970s, Hemingway was a regular attendee of New York City’s exclusive discothèque Studio 54 – often in the company of such celebrities as Liza Minnelli, Halston, Bianca Jagger, Andy Warhol and Grace Jones. It was at such social mixers that Hemingway began to experiment with alcohol and drugs.
She made her film debut in the 1976 Lamont Johnson-directed drama Lipstick alongside her then fourteen year-old sister Mariel.
Her first marriage, to Errol Wetson, ended in divorce. They met when, at 19, she accompanied her father to the Plaza Hotel in New York City on a business trip, and four months later she moved from Idaho to New York City to live with Wetson as a guest at Selig’s apartment, a residence that was owned by heiress Gloria Vanderbilt. It was there that Selig made Hemingways’ business and social introductions to his friends such as Marian McEvoy, fashion editor at Women’s Wear Daily, photographer Francesco Scavullo, fashion designer Halston, Vogue magazine fashion editor Francis Stein, and Selig’s cousin Jon Revson. Revson, a scion of the Revson family that created Revlon cosmetics, declined Selig’s offer for Hemingway to endorse Revlon, whereas later Fabergé signed her on with the largest salary of its day. Marion Macelvoy quickly interviewed Margaux at a party given by Selig, which resulted in Hemingway’s Women’s Wear Daily front and back page story that launched Hemingway into the fashion limelight.
On the rebound, Hemingway married Venezuelan Bernard Fauchier, and they lived in Paris for a year. She also divorced him in 1985 after six years. Like her grandfather, she experienced occasional bouts of clinical depression all through her life. After a skiing accident in 1984, she gained 75 pounds and became more and more depressed. In 1987, she checked into the Betty Ford Center. Making a comeback, Hemingway appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine in May 1990, and she asked Playboy to hire Selig as the creative director for her cover story. It was shot in Belize.
She supported herself later in life by appearing in a few direct-to-video films, autographing her nude photos from Playboy magazine, and endorsing a psychic telephone hotline. Shortly before her death, she was set to host the outdoor adventure series Wild Guide on the Discovery Channel.
On July 1, 1996, one day before the anniversary of her grandfather’s own suicide, Hemingway was found dead in her studio apartment in Santa Monica, California at age 41. She had taken an overdose of phenobarbital, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s findings one month later.
Her remains were cremated and Margaux was buried in the Hemingway family plot in the Ketchum Cemetery in Ketchum, Idaho.