Dorothy Virginia Margaret Juba was born in Queens, New York, the daughter of a Polish-American policeman and his Irish-born wife. She contracted rheumatic fever when she was a small girl, and spent seven years bedridden.
Dovima was discovered on a sidewalk in New York by an editor at Vogue, and had a photo shoot with Irving Penn the following day. she named herself Dovima, composed of the first two letters of her first three given names, and would be the first model with a single name.
In less than one year, Dovima became the highest-paid model of her time; she commanded $60 per hour when most of the top models were receiving anything up to $25 per hour. And she became known as the Dollar-a-Minute Girl.
During her modelling career, Dovima appeared on all fashion magazines, worked with all the best couturiers including Balenciaga, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Pierre Cardin, etc. And was photographed by all major photographers of her times like Irving Penn, Henry Clarke, Horst P. Horst, but the photographer mostly related to her was Richard Avedon, whose photograph of her: “Dovima with Elephants”, originally published in the September 1955 issue of Harper’s Bazzar, has become the most iconic fashion photograph In 20th century and sold for $1,151,976 in 2010. The photo was taken in the circus of Paris, and in the photo Dovima was wearing Christian Dior gown, the first evening dress designed by his new assistant, Yves Saint-Laurent.
In the Paramount movie Funny Face (1957) featuring Audrey Hepburn, Dovima had a minor role as an aristocratic-looking, but empty-headed, fashion model named Marion.
Dovima was married three times, all ending in divorce, and gave birth to a daughter with her second husband who abused her and made her penniless when they divorced.
Dovima first tried acting then attempted working as an agent during the 1960s. Eventually, by the 1970s, she found herself moving in with her parents who had relocated to Florida, and was working as a hostess at The Two Guys Pizza Parlor in Fort Lauderdale, Florida by the 1980s.
She died of cancer in 1990.