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Friday, July 21, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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`Cream' girl still whips up fantasies

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

Sultry, sexy and slathered with "whipped cream" in her famous album cover, Dolores Erickson still stirs up fantasies 35 years later.

Erickson, who now lives in Kelso, was the cover girl on Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass "Whipped Cream & Other Delights." The Recording Industry Association of America reported the album "went gold" a short time after its 1965 release, selling more than 500,000 copies. The album was in the top 10 for 61 weeks and among the top 40 for 141 weeks.

The same cover was used for a compact-disc release.

For many males - young and old alike - the cover teetered between playful innocence and steamy risque. Many will remember it as a symbol of coming of age.

Still a heartthrob at 63, Erickson is now a professional artist, but she is still called back to her whipped-cream days and recently signed autographs at Golden Oldies in Bellevue and Seattle. She visits Seattle, her hometown, often.

Erickson, who is proud of not having had a face-lift, swings between amazement and amusement that people remember the photo and even collect the album cover. Fans regularly track her down for autographs, and people still recognize her. She's even talked about on Internet Web sites.

For Erickson, it was just another modeling job.

The road to fantasyhood began when she was 15 and a student at Seattle's Cleveland High School. A girlfriend wanted to enter a modeling contest at the now defunct Frederick & Nelson department store but was afraid to go alone.

Erickson accompanied her.

"This beautiful woman who was the fashion coordinator encouraged me to try out, too," Erickson recalls. "I got in. My friend didn't."

Modeling became her part-time job. She entered a few beauty pageants.

She laughs and confesses, "I was Miss Longshoreman. It's funny now, but it was a big deal then. It was for Seafair, and I got to be in the parade and the whole works."

Erickson started attending the University of Washington, intending to major in art. On a vacation in San Francisco, a friend suggested she apply to be the Macy's store model. The photographers snapped up Erickson. She was 19 and earning $600 a week.

It wasn't an easy decision or move.

She had to quit college, she was scared and homesick. It wouldn't be the first time.

But professionally, Erickson was launched.

"Parts of me were in the paper every day," she says. "Sometimes it was just my hands, but some part of my body was in an ad."

Paramount Studios came calling, signing her to a two-year contract without a screen test. Warner Brothers picked her up. She had bit parts in movies and walk-on roles in television but struggled.

"I had no acting background; I was a model," she said.

After a broken engagement, she spent a year in Mexico, returning to the United States in 1963. She decided to bank on her modeling experience and moved to New York.

There she hit the big time in modeling, signing with the prestigious Ford Agency. She was sought after for magazine photos, modeling often for clients such as Max Factor Cosmetics.

She traveled frequently between Los Angeles and New York, maintaining friends in both show business and the music business.

Then Jerry Moss and Herb Alpert of A & M Records and graphics artist Peter Woorf had this idea for a record cover. They wanted Erickson and flew her out for the one-day shoot.

She remembers it well.

"The only whipped cream was on my head," she recalled. "The rest was shaving cream on cotton. And the shaving cream kept slipping."

She was also three months pregnant.

Photographers routinely give models rejected prints for their portfolios. When Woorf sent the copies, Erickson was shocked at how much the slipped shaving cream revealed.

"I called a girlfriend and took them to her house. We hid them behind her refrigerator because I didn't want my husband to see them," she said. "I still have them, and now they look tame."

Although it wasn't her only record cover, "Whipped Cream & Other Delights," is the most remembered.

In the next decade, Erickson would have a son, get a divorce and move back to California. She began spending more time with a sister in Longview, moving there permanently in the late 1970s.

"I've started my life over so many times," Erickson said. "It isn't easy to have new beginnings, new challenges, but we all do it."

She went back to college in Portland and studied art. She married Robert Huffhines, a Kelso attorney.

For a decade she operated her own art studio in Kelso. Today the studio is closed and she concentrates on painting.

She's happy and close to her son, Brett, who lives in West Seattle, her sisters and a niece who lives in Issaquah.

"As a model," Erickson says, "you're making everyone else's dreams come true, you're fulfilling their fantasies. My life is no longer celluloid. I'm making the pictures now."

Sherry Grindeland's phone message number is 206-515-5633. Her e-mail address is sgrindeland@seattletimes.com.

Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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