Thursday, June 13, 2024

Altina Schinasi: How old was Altina Schinasi when she died?

Altina Schinasi, an enigmatic figure in the 20th century art and fashion scenes, is perhaps best remembered for her innovative design of the cat-eye glasses, which became a signature fashion statement. Her multifaceted life as an artist, filmmaker, and activist left an indelible mark on the world. In this article, we explore the life of Altina Schinasi, focusing on her age at the time of her death, her personal life, career, and the cause of her passing.

Early Life and Background

Altina Schinasi was born on 4th August, 1907, in New York City, to a prosperous family. Her father, Morris Schinasi, was a Turkish immigrant who amassed a fortune in the tobacco industry. Growing up amidst affluence, Altina was exposed to a world of art and culture, which sparked her lifelong passion for creativity.

The Making of a Visionary

From a young age, Altina demonstrated an eye for design and aesthetics. She pursued her artistic talents by studying at the Art Students League of New York and later in Paris. Her experiences in Europe, particularly the vibrant art scene of the 1920s, heavily influenced her stylistic choices and conceptual thinking.

The Schinasi Family

The Schinasi family played an integral role in Altina’s life, providing her with the financial security and freedom to explore her artistic endeavors. Her father’s success and the support of her siblings allowed her to pursue her passions without the constraints that many artists faced during that era.

A Trailblazer in Design

Altina Schinasi’s most notable contribution to the fashion industry was the invention of the cat-eye glasses. This iconic design not only revolutionized women’s eyewear but also became a symbol of feminine empowerment and style.

The Birth of the Cat-Eye Glasses

In the 1930s, Altina observed that eyeglasses were primarily designed for function over form, offering little in the way of style or femininity. Determined to change this, she created a prototype for a new kind of eyeglass frame inspired by masks. The design featured an upswept angle and a bold, decorative flourish that mimicked the look of a cat’s eyes. The cat-eye glasses were an instant hit, quickly becoming a fashion staple for women around the world.

Recognition and Success

Altina’s innovative design earned her the American Design Award in 1934. The cat-eye glasses were not only a commercial success but also solidified her status as a visionary designer. The frames continue to inspire fashion trends to this day, with countless iterations and homages seen in modern eyewear collections.

Altina Schinasi’s Personal Life

Altina Schinasi’s personal life was as rich and varied as her professional pursuits. She married twice, first to inventor Morris Miranda and later to filmmaker Charles Carey. Her relationships and experiences provided further inspiration for her work and activism.

Love and Marriage

Altina Schinasi’s husbands each played a role in shaping her life and work. Morris Miranda’s inventive spirit likely influenced Altina’s own creative process, while her marriage to Charles Carey brought her into the world of filmmaking, where she would go on to make her own mark.

The Role of Family

Family remained a cornerstone throughout Altina’s life. Her children and extended family were sources of joy and support, and she often drew upon her personal experiences in her artistic endeavors.

Activism and Filmmaking

Altina Schinasi's film reel

Beyond fashion and art, Altina Schinasi was deeply committed to social justice and activism. Her documentary work addressed pressing issues of her time and showcased her desire to make a positive impact on society.

Documentary Filmmaker

In the 1960s, Altina turned her attention to documentary filmmaking. Her film “The Cry of Jazz” explored the cultural significance of jazz music and its roots in African American history. The film was well-received and highlighted Altina’s dedication to using her platform to address social and cultural themes.

Advocate for Change

Altina’s activism extended to various causes, including civil rights and humanitarian efforts. She used her voice and resources to support movements that aligned with her values and beliefs, further cementing her legacy as an advocate for change.

Altina Schinasi’s Later Years and Death

As she aged, Altina Schinasi continued to pursue her artistic passions, though her public appearances and projects became less frequent. She remained a respected figure in the art community until her death.

Age at Death

Altina Schinasi passed away on August 19, 1999, at the age of 92. Her longevity allowed her to witness significant cultural and societal changes, many of which she had a hand in shaping through her design work and activism.

Cause of Death

Altina Schinasi’s cause of death was not widely publicized, which is not uncommon for public figures of her era. Nevertheless, her legacy lives on through her contributions to fashion, film, and social advocacy.

Remembering Altina Schinasi

Altina Schinasi’s life story is a testament to the power of creativity and determination. From her birth into a well-to-do family to her pioneering work in eyewear design and her impactful documentary films, Altina’s influence can still be felt today.

The Legacy of Cat-Eye Glasses

The cat-eye glasses remain a symbol of Altina Schinasi’s ingenuity and a fashion statement that transcends time. They continue to be celebrated and worn by those who appreciate their unique blend of style and history.

Honoring an Icon

Altina Schinasi’s work and life are commemorated through exhibitions, documentaries, and retrospectives that highlight her multifaceted contributions to art, design, and social justice.


Altina Schinasi was a remarkable woman whose life spanned nearly a century of profound change. At the age of 92, she left behind a world that she had helped shape in innumerable ways. From the creation of the cat-eye glasses to her advocacy and filmmaking, Altina’s legacy is one of creativity, innovation, and a relentless pursuit of progress. Though the details of her passing may be private, the impact of her life continues to be celebrated and remembered by those who admire her work and the trail she blazed for future generations.

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Alena Sakak
Alena Sakak
Alena Sakak is a passionate wordsmith and puzzle enthusiast. With a love for language and a knack for problem-solving, Alena enjoys diving into the world of crosswords, finding solace in the daily challenge of the NYT Mini Crossword. When not unraveling word puzzles, Alena can be found exploring new books or indulging in creative writing endeavors. Join Alena on a journey through the world of words and puzzles.

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