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Throwback Thursday: Remember the time Tyra Banks nearly turned down the 1997 shoot? No?

Russell James/SI

Russell James/SI

Because a 40th birthday deserves more than one day of celebration, Tyra Banks, who hit that mark on December 4, is our Throwback Thursday honoree for the week.

Yesterday we put together a gallery of her best non-swimsuit, ultra-90s getups. But if Tyra was fly in Jordache, God knows that girl was straight up bomb in a bikini (yeah, I speak 90s). Today we celebrate her work for SI, images we never tire of seeing.

But getting those memorable shots was a harrowing ordeal that nearly didn't happen. Before she nailed the cover shot in the Bahamas, Tyra and the SI crew had already done an entire shoot in Turkey and when the editor at the time Elaine Farley discovered that all the photos were taken in black and white the entire set was scrapped.

Tyra in 50 Years of Beautiful:

I almost passed on doing the issue because I had been on the cover the year before with Valeria Mazza and I thought, Why do it again?; there's nowhere to go but down. They wanted me to shoot in Turkey. We shot on the street and all these men were just looking at me like I was an alien. Then after I got home, Elaine told me "We're not using the pictures," and I thought, 'I knew there was nowhere to go but down.'  [Then she said], "We're going to shoot you again, but on the water."

In the Bahamas Tyra worked with nervous young photographer Russell James. Despite a disastrous start to that shoot (which you can read more about in the book, you meddling kids) the duo finally found their groove, resulting in that lovely little cover up top that has since become one of Swimsuit's most iconic.

SI Swimsuit Recommends

As for the Turkey photos, those are long gone, but thankfully the shoot that never was lives on in this video footage, starting around the 24-minute mark:


GALLERY: The Tyra images you know and love



 CLEVER AND INSPIRED GIFT IDEA: Oh, I don't know. Perhaps this here book?