One of the most iconic figures to ever come out of cinema, Jessica Rabbit is a character that is instantly recognized by many. First coming to fame in the cartoon book Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, the figure found lasting notoriety in the 1988 film adaptation, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? And while it is the cartoon character that has remained throughout history, there was once a very real origin behind the animated symbol’s look.
1950. A time of the movie starlet and the pin up. In the height of its reign, Hollywood was carving out the careers for some of the most famous actresses throughout cinematic history. While we might remember stars like Natalie Wood, Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe, it was Vikki Dougan who was stealing many of the headlines at the time. A model and actress, Dougan was renowned for her racy cover shoots and poses, appearing perfectly coiffured and decked out at any press event. While the era was relatively buttoned up, Dougan was pushing the envelope, exploring a different side of the female form.
Breaking free from a broken down marriage, Dougan employed a new PR agent to transform her look. While her earlier work saw her on the pages of a number of innocent catalogues, she later turned her attentions elsewhere, appearing in spreads in LIFE and Playboy alike. While the press had a field day, there were huge numbers of people who were less than pleased with her career choices, typecasting the model as a dumb beauty.
Despite the potential power in Dougan’s actions, she was never portrayed beyond the one dimensional character created for her by the press. In the media’s mind, she was merely a sex symbol and as a result, she went on to be remembered as such.
Over the years, Dougan fell further into obscurity and despite another effort at fame, she never managed to recapture her former glory. Rising and falling in two sharp motions, Dougan never got a chance to explain her actions, remaining as the typecast airhead that was often portrayed in the photoshoots. When she was reincarnated in the form of Jessica Rabbit, however, the actress might have been given a second chance. In the words of the cartoon character, “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way”. Such was the case for Dougan whose potential, despite her best efforts, was overshadowed by the way she looked.