Ilona Royce Smithkin: Before the Eyelashes

One of our very favorite ladies, Ilona Royce Smithkin, has had a very busy couple of weeks. After I wrote an article about her for The Huffington Post, NBC New York decided to interview for their nightly program LX New York. The night before, we had dinner at The Waverly Inn, and met Mayor Bloomberg. This 90 year old woman is busier than ever and there is never a dull moment when we hang out together.
Ilona was a hit even before she had her iconic eyelashes. The other day I received a wonderful email from a woman who remembered meeting Ilona as a child. Read her note and enjoy some vintage photos of this amazing 90 year old below:
There is my mother and I in front of the portrait she painted

Hi Ari,
When I was growing up in Wantagh Long Island and NYC, NY and my parents Rae (Rachel) and Ernie Miller had an art gallery in our home.They gave Ilona Smithkin a one woman show plus showed her work and sold many of her paintings to friends and neighbors.Our house was filled with her paintings. She did a fabulous portrait of my mother that she cherished till she died. Ilona came out to the shows at our house often.I have such fond memories of her. We all sat for portraits in her studio in NYC. I would LOVE to share some old photos with her and let her know how much I remember her.I am including a few old photos here, thanks for your stories on her.
Here she is in our hallway by a wall of her paintings, curled up with our dog Button
There is one of Ilona’s larger nudes in our basement part of the gallery…almost caused a scandal in our little suburbs…ha.

One of her nudes with my folks and I years later
Ilona with my mom comforting me for whatever reason. I think my long skirt itched!
For more on this amazing woman watch the clip below:
  • I wanna be like her when I'm 90. She is so so lovely….

  • She seems very sweet 🙂
    I love that she talks to her "eyelashes like she talks to her body", that is fantastic!!

  • I always enjoy your Ilona posts. She has such a magnificent spirit!

  • Ooh…loving this idea – to see vintage photos of your ladies. It's very cool to see the evolution of Ilonas's style. Would love to see the same from the rest of your stars.

  • Ilona is such a sweetheart. I can see why you like to spend time with her. She has so many wise and funny things to say with that lovely voice and one feels energized listening to her. These videos are very well done and very much appreciated.

  • Rebecca

    The more I read and see about Ilona (I recently purchased the wonderful short movie "Ilona Upstairs" made by her neigbhor), the more I realize just how unique, talented and remarkable a person she is. More please!!

  • I just saw the video and all I can say is I am in awe! I have been blow away by this little dynamo of a lady! I will be content to be half the spitfire that this woman is when I'm her age! Unbelievable! She's absolutely lovely and her spirit is remarkable! More than anything, I love when she says, "If you dont have something, you're not going to die." Wonderful!

  • She is really talented!

  • Hello! I am honoured to bestow upon you Stylish Blogger Award because of the grand job you are doing in this blog!

  • Jeez, I hope I run into her in Ptown this summer!!!

  • I adore her! How lucky you are to be surrounded by such people.

  • ang

    I love this extra gift of looking into her history & all those fab paintings! What a life!

  • Anonymous

    She's fantastic. I only hope I can be as vibrant as she is when,hopefully, I reach my 90's.