Discovered as an infant model, 11-month-old Brooke Shields was literally born into the fashion industry. Having the biggest brands seeking her, Shields was able to do it all – from modeling to acting to studying at an Ivy League school. Now, she unveils the truth about her time in the spotlight.
In Her Genes
Born to a model mother and a Revlon executive father, Brooke Shields was a gifted child with a winning smile just waiting to be captured by a camera.
Fight For Legal Rights
Shields’s mother and a photographer had a legal dispute back in the early 80’s. The two could not settle the rights to some photographs her mother had signed away, which was especially problematic considering Brooke was a minor. The photos were meant to appear in a book called Sugar and Spice, but the litigation postponed its publication. Eventually, the courts ruled in favor of Gross. Interestingly, a loophole in New York law suggests that if Brooke was considered a child performer rather than a model, her mom would have won.
Life Changed Forever
Before Brooke had even turned a year old, she already had two life altering circumstances completely amend her future – the first was her parents’ divorce, the second was being cast in her first commercial. The ad was for Ivory soap and beautiful baby Brooke was such a natural on camera, they named her “The Most Beautiful Baby in America”. This wise move later placed her on the path to what would eventually become a long career in Hollywood.
At First, Everything Seemed Perfect
Soon enough that very same tiny toddler turned into a gem of a girl, and attempted to live life the way it should be lived – simply and peacefully. Brooke took up ballet, learned how to play the piano and particularly loved her horseback riding lessons. What made her stand out was that fact that she had continued to pursue a modeling career while keeping those other aspects of her life in check.
Brooke was all smiles and laughter on the outside, but she was a crumbling mess within. Her mother, Teri, decided to act as a mom-manager for her daughter, justifying it by claiming she knows her daughter best and therefore would only keep Brooke’s best interest in mind. After taking upon herself the role of managing Brooke’s career, Teri could not handle the pressure, turned into an alcoholic and completely took over Brooke’s life – both on professional and personal levels.
Exploited As A Child
What had spiraled her mother’s emotional state even further was the amount of criticism she had received after enabling her daughter to act as a child adult ‘worker’ in the movie Pretty Baby. At only 11-years-old, Brooke was involved in some very questionable scenes on screen, which enticed contradicting views of the film. While some argued having a minor in a film of this nature was groundbreaking, others claimed that it was inappropriate use of a child. People questioned Teri’s management decisions and later, her way – or lack – of mothering Brooke.
Her First Love
What fueled rumors about Brooke’s premature burst into the grown-up sphere was being spotted spending time with fellow child star actor Scott Baio. Known for his role as Chachi Arcola on the sitcom Happy Days, Baio was rumored to be romantically involved with Brooke. Many years later, Brooke revealed that she was, in fact, Scott Baio’s first girlfriend, when they had a teen fling in the late 70’s. Pictured are Scott and Brooke, attending the CBS Television Competition Special.
He Wouldn’t Let Her Go
Booking one session after another, Brooke was granted massive exposure when she was featured on the cover of Seventeen magazine in 1978. Cruising along a newsstand, fashion guru and all-American designer Calvin Klein landed his eyes on Shields and immediately knew he was looking at an “it” girl. Klein was just launching his denim line, and knew Brooke – or as he referred to her, “the most beautiful girl in the world” – just had to model his jeans.
Banned From Networks
Her good looks, however, were not enough for the Calvin Klein televised commercial producers, who tried to push through socially accepted norms by making Brooke speak out a highly suggestive sentence that would emphasize the sexuality behind the ad. The ad began with Brooke sitting casually in a suggestive position, whistling, then looking up and saying – “you want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.” Two networks banned the commercial for being too risque.
The Blue Lagoon is an American romantic, adventure, drama film directed by Randal Kleiser and filmed on Turtle Island in Fiji. It tells the tale of two young children marooned on a tropical island paradise in the South Pacific. With neither the guidance nor the restrictions of society, emotional feelings and physical changes arise as they reach puberty and fall in love. Brooke had to testify before a U.S. Congressional inquiry that older body doubles were used in some of her scenes with co-star Christopher Atkins.
Despite using body doubles for some of the scenes and having her long, voluminous hair cover her upper torso throughout the film’s frontal shots, the film still received a MPAA rating of R in the United States. Perhaps thanks to the controversial buzz circling around the movie, and based on Henry De Vere Stacpoole’s novel by the same name, the film was the ninth biggest box office hit of 1980 in North America, grossing $58.8 million in the United States and Canada.
Filthy Rich Teen
It didn’t take long for Shields to become one of the most recognizable faces in the U.S. Back then, being a young actress and lucrative model was a rare combo, which could explain why her day rate was around $10,000 by the time she turned 16. She appeared on various national Vogue covers in America, Italy, and France, and became a frequent attendee at Studio 54, a hip and buzzing New York nightclub. She was far from being a normal teen, which would consequently affect her future.
Record Breaking Star
Brooke had guest appearances on highly rated shows a lot of actors and actresses aspired to be on, but that’s not all. She was the youngest talent to ever appear on The Muppet Show and host ABC’s Fridays, which is a Saturday Night Live-like sketch comedy show. Some say it was due to her tremendous success as a child on Blue Lagoon and Pretty Baby, but the fact remains that Brooke was very comfortable and fitting standing in front of the camera and acting.
Ashamed Of Herself
Celibacy was a big deal for Brooke’s mother, and for Brooke as well. After the deed was done, Brooke felt so overwhelmed with mixed feelings that she had run out of the bedroom in a daze. Brooke was 22-years-old at the time, but that didn’t change how guilty she felt. Cain said in the same interview that “There was nothing I did to her that I’m ashamed of in any shape or form.” Later, Brooke said it would have occurred earlier had she had a better self-image.
Constantly Breaking Boundaries
For many youngsters in the United States, turning 21 is a milestone well-worthy of a celebration. Brooke was no exception, but she decided to commemorate this particular moment in her life by being displayed in the semi-notorious, semi-prominent men’s magazine – Playboy. Although the photos left little to the imagination, Shields received far less negative criticism for her pictures than when she appeared nude at Pretty Baby. By then it became obvious to all that Brooke was always on the hunt for scandals.
Apparently, Michael didn’t feel the same way. Michael elaborated – “That was one of the loves of my life […] Her pictures were all over my wall, my mirror, everything. I went to the Academy Awards and this girl walks up to me and says ‘Hi, I’m Brooke Shields. Are you going to the after-party?’ I go, ‘Yeah,’ thinking ‘Oh my God, does she know she’s all over my room?’ Man, we exchanged numbers and I was up all night, singing, spinning around my room, just so happy.”
Michael Even Proposed
“I think she loved me as much as I loved her, you know? We dated a lot. We, we went out a lot […] It was great” said Michael Jackson in one interview he gave, discussing his relationship with Brooke. Shields also openly stated in one occasion that Jackson asked her to marry him several times. As a matter of fact, his love for her was so strong he even suggested the two would adopt a child together – but Shields just laughed it off.
They Called Her Fake
When Michael Jackson died, the media criticized Shields, calling her out for appearing too distressed for someone who had cut ties with the singer. Speaking at his memorial, Shields reminisced about their relationship in a purely platonic way – “Thinking back to when we met and the many times that we spent together, there would be a caption of some kind, which would usually say something like ‘an odd couple’ or ‘an unlikely pair,’ but to us it was the most natural and easiest of friendships…”
Private Jokes Revealed
Reading her eulogy out loud, Brooke shared anecdotes about their relationship. She reminisced how she was his date for one of Elizabeth Taylor’s weddings and how much they both enjoyed getting into trouble together. They snuck into Taylor’s room, excited to get the first glimpse at her intended dress for the celebration – but walked in to discover Taylor asleep in the bed. Additionally, Shield briefly joked about Michael’s often ridiculed love for sequin gloves and sobbed emotionally throughout most of her speech.
Did She Lead Him On?
Gail Gollins, a New York Times columnist was not happy with Brooke’s words: “it was a little peculiar hearing Brooke Shields’s weepy testimony about her deep friendship with Jackson given the fact that she told reporters that the last time she saw him was at Elizabeth Taylor’s eighth wedding in 1991,” Gollins had a point. Many watched as Jackson stated in his 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey that he was dating Brooke, and she herself admitted to not returning his love.
Strong Is Beautiful
During the 1990’s, Shields promoted physical fitness as an extension of femininity, asserting that femininity and athletics do not contradict one another. Although she was not the only woman doing so, Shields had what was required to promote women’s athletics – she had the platform, the looks, and the will to show a different side of her and women everywhere. Brooke Shields had also appeared in various healthy lifestyle magazines, such as Health and Fitness, where she discussed her eating habits and physical exercise routines.
A true romantic at heart, Brooke Shields dated both actor Liam Neeson and singer Michael Bolton in the early 90’s, but neither of those relationships lasted very long. After being linked to other A-list celebrities, Brooke had had enough and decided it was time to settle down. Once meeting tennis star Andre Agassi in 1993, it seemed to Brooke like she hit the jackpot. The two tied the knot in 1997, but two short and drama-filled years later, their marriage was annulled.
Her mother, Teri, strongly disapproved of Brooke’s relationship with Andre. Teri’s discontent and denunciation acted as a compelling catalyst for a heated feud waiting to happen. Brooke’s relationship with her mother was ravaged, and Brooke decided to fire her own mother from her position as her manager after more than 30 years of filling that role. In 1999, Andre confessed that he has been hiding a substance addiction from his wife, and the two called their marriage quits.
Her Hidden Talent
Feeling like there was a whole other side of her just waiting to emerge, Brooke put her modeling career on hold and let her personality flourish in the two time Golden Globe nominated TV show, Suddenly Susan. Moving onto to acting in a comedy sitcom, Brooke found herself in completely different shoes than the ones she had already adjusted to from a young age, having to prove herself all over again. In the show, Brooke was introducing to and staring beside Kathy Griffin, Judd Nelson and Nestor Carbonell.
Named Came Under Fire
On plenty of occasions, Shields has spoken openly of what it is like being a vegan and an animal rights activist, both subject well-known to be close to her heart. However, Brooke shocked her entire fanbase and animal rights organizations when, after coming out against the fur industry in 1989, Shields went on to create her own mink fur coat at Copenhagen Fur. She came under the scrutiny of animal rights organizations such as PETA for this visit, which prompted media attention.
It Was All New To Her
Pushing her limits and stepping even further away from her comfort zone, Shields has appeared in several Broadway theater productions, including the musicals Grease, Cabaret, Wonderful Town and Chicago. She also took over the role of Morticia Addams in the Broadway musical The Addams Family in 2011. Once ending her run as Morticia, Brooke bid goodbye to New York’s most theatrical street in more ways than one – she announced the end of her stage performance career, and sold her apartment at 458 Broadway.
She Didn’t See It Coming
Having almost given up on love after her rocky relationship with tennis player Andre ended with a bang, Brooke decided to give fate one more chance when she enabled her friends set her up. Introducing her to writer and film producer Chris Henchy, the two immediately hit it off and were married after only eight months of dating. Having already done the big wedding hurrah in the past, Brooke was all about keeping it low key this time around.
Skipping the big, blown up gown and sparkling veil, Brooke and Chris surprised their family and closest friends by having a spontaneous dinner-turned-wedding. Only their closest circle was present during the impulsive ring-trading ceremony, which took place on Catalina Island off the coast of California. Hollywood was greatly surprised by this quick-fix wedding, as no one predicted the two would elope. Apparently keeping things on the down low works for Shields and Henchy, as they are still together and are more in love than ever.
Losing Her Father
Although he was not heard of as often as Teri, Brooke’s father was a valued family member and a man Brooke looked up to. Frank Shields was an American businessman and an executive at Revlon in New York City. After Frank died, Brooke participated in the television series Who Do You Think You Are – a show that traces celebrities’ ancestors and teaches them about their family history. Commenting on his death, she said – “Loss after loss after loss, it takes a toll on your soul.”
Struggling To Bounce Back
Her father, Frank, had a premature death – it was during the worst possible time for the entire family, too. Brooke was pregnant with her first child and was only a single month away from giving birth, but it was too much for Frank to bear and he passed away. Brooke ended up giving birth 3 weeks after his sudden death, on May 15, 2003. What happened next no one could anticipate – Brooke was losing touch with reality, sinking in deep depression.
She Was Sinking
She tried to cope with the loss of her father and raising a newborn child simultaneously, but for Brooke, it was nearly impossible to see the silver lining. It felt like the world was caving in on her, like she was drowning in a pool of emptiness and she couldn’t push through it. Even her newborn daughter, Rowan Henchy, seemed to cause Brooke more emotional instability than good. Only later was she diagnosed as having postpartum depression.
Setting The Truth Free
Post numerous therapy sessions and years of working through her grief, Brooke published a book called Down Came The Rain, spoke to magazines and appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to publicize her battle with postpartum depression, an experience that included depression, thoughts of suicide, an inability to respond to her baby’s needs and delayed maternal bonding. Her book particularly gave an elaborate detailing of her struggles with both postpartum depression and the loss of her father.
The Infamous Feud
Two years after giving birth to her first child and having since revealed that she had suffered from postpartum depression, actor Tom Cruise condemned Brooke, both personally and professionally, for both using and speaking in favor of the antidepressant drug Paxil. Cruise was quoted saying “Here is a woman – and I care about Brooke Shields because I think she is an incredibly talented woman – you look at [and think], where has her career gone?” Shields responded that Cruise’s statements about anti-depressants were “irresponsible” and “dangerous.”
Huge Hollywood Blowout
Tremendously upset with his statements, Brooke said that Cruise should “stick to fighting aliens” – a double meaning statement aimed at Cruise’s starring role in War of the Worlds and his well-known belief in Scientology doctrine and teachings. Continuing, Brooke said he should “let mothers decide the best way to treat postpartum depression.” But that was not all. Feeling as though she did not express how inappropriate his words were, Brooke decided it was time to express her thoughts in the best possible way.
A Well Deserved Apology
Shields then published a segment in The New York Times, saying – “In a strange way, it was comforting to me when my obstetrician told me that my feelings of extreme despair and my suicidal thoughts were directly tied to a biochemical shift in my body. Once we admit that postpartum is a serious medical condition, then the treatment becomes more available and socially acceptable […] Without it, I wouldn’t have become the loving parent I am today.”
It Was All Over The News
According to USAToday.com, Cruise privately apologized to Shields. On August 2006 the media was eating up every piece of information about the incident. After his message was the hottest topic discussed in Hollywood, all turned to Brooke for an official response. Brooke was quick to return the favor, saying she felt his apology was “heartfelt.” Although it was not clear if this truce was all a show for the cameras rolling or not, Brooke and her husband surprised many when they attended Tom and Katie Holmes’s wedding three months later.
In 2006, Brooke gave birth to her second daughter, a baby girl named Grier. Still, motherhood was no match for workaholic Brooke, who managed to brush the dirt off her shoulder and move past her postpartum struggles. Kicking off her career once again, Brooke wanted to give network series a try again. She landed the role of Wendy on Lipstick Jungle – a Sex And The City inspired NBC show, also written by Candace Bushnell. However, unlike its sister-series, Lipstick Jungle was canceled after just one season.
Her Most Painful Loss
2012 was yet another difficult year for Brooke, as it was the year she had lost her mother. Known to be an extremely (if not over) influential individual in Brooke’s personal and professional life, the loss was deeply burdening for Brooke. Having first posed nude at eight, and barely being in her teens when she modeled for Playboy – actress Brooke has long been a symbol for the loss of childhood innocence and grieved about never getting the chance to confront her mother about their complicated relationship.
Coping Her Own Way
In 2014, Brooke published the memoir There Was a Little Girl, detailing her difficult early years growing up and working under her mother, whom she described as difficult but also someone she idolized as a child. She mentioned that when she was only five-days-old, her mother openly stated she wanted her to be active in show business, announcing that “She’s the most beautiful child and I’m going to help her with her career.” Teri Shields passed away on October 31, 2012.
Instead of sinking in depression and going down that sturdy path she did after her father’s death, Brooke decided to invest all her energy into being the best mother she can be to her two girls. She told The Guardian that she makes sure to “rule with an iron hand,” thus giving her kids the strong, parenting frame she so desperately needed back in the day. Brooke also said the most important thing for her is that the girls will have a normal, healthy upbringing.
To avoid having her girls be exposed to what she had to go through as a child, Brooke came out to the press with a straight forward message to nip all other assumptions in the bud: “We shouldn’t just see 15-year-old bodies” she said, “I don’t want a 15-year-old body. I don’t want to look like a little boy.” The former teen model revealed she has told her daughters they are banned from the industry until they finish college.
Once asked to elaborate her decision, Brooke explained: “‘It’s a cutthroat and demoralizing business. Plus, they want you when they want you, and you have to be there for auditions and work, and my kids aren’t missing school. If I hadn’t had the intellectual piece as my friend, I would have been more devoured by an industry that has no loyalty whatsoever. You do think because you’ve been in the industry all of your life it will be loyal, but it’s the antithesis of that.”
Afraid For Her Life
Fame might sound like the golden ticket to a joyful, carefree life, but Brooke had battled many demons in order to get to where she is today. One of the most spine-chilling incidents she had to overcome was the fact that for nearly 30 years, Brooke had to keep away from a persistent stalker named John Rinaldi. Seemingly, John had befriended her mother, Teri, many years earlier, and had done so just to get closer to Brooke.
No One Had A Clue
After being charged, John Rinaldi admitted during his trial that he had a childhood crush on Brooke Shields, and has followed her career for more than three decades. Apparently, his feelings for the actress began at age 12, yet were what he referred to as “typical of any kid with a crush.” Later he elaborated, saying he “thought Brooke was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen in the world,” claiming his early infatuation with the star as “just an escape.”
In June 2016, the decision was made – 49-year-old Rinaldi was convicted in New York on four misdemeanor counts of stalking and harassing Brooke Shields. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail at New York City’s Rikers Island – but ended up serving only 28 days. Rinaldi claimed Brooke falsely accused him, as he was in love, not dangerous – “Terri (Brooke’s mother) came to my rescue. She went out of her way to help some broken little kid she had never met. She saved my life.”
Modeling Body And Behavior
Brooke Shields may be of 52 years today but is still fit as a fiddle. She makes sure to stay relevant by keeping up to date social profiles on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram – and wows her hefty fan base by posting pictures of her well-toned physique, evidently an enviable goal. Brooke makes sure she maintains a healthy lifestyle as she is a spokeswoman for Tupperware’s Chain of Confidence SMART Girls campaign, a program that teaches girls to nurture their mental and physical well-being.
Positive Outlook Is Everything
Brooke is known to dedicate a lot of her time to supporting causes she believes in. Some of these causes are the American Cancer Society and several organizations dedicated to AIDS research. Notwithstanding, the star is also constantly on the pry for her next great role. When asked about her professional aspirations, Brooke brushed off dramatic, over the top offers, explaining she is settled on working with fun, easy going shows that will project the same feelings onto her audience.
A Birthday To Remember
To celebrate the supermodel’s fiftieth birthday, the star decided to invite her best friends, closest family and several other attendees to a spectacular party she had in a place called Refinery Rooftop situated in New York City. Her husband, Chris, could not stop himself from feeling overly emotional as he spoke of his wife. He broke down in tears as he praised his wife, who is said to be as beautiful in and she is out. The party had everything from fancy cocktails to swing dancing and tasty tacos.
Her Honest, Hairy Truth
It’s no secret Brooke is envied all around the world, a remarkable fact considering the woman is well into her 50s nowadays. Although she claims to keep her looks quite natural, her fans were surprised to hear how she grooms her famously thick eyebrows: “I don’t wax. If there’s a rogue hair, I’ll probably pluck it or if a makeup artist sees one they must get at, I’ll let them, but I don’t do too much.”
In 2008, news spread about Brooke and her alleged upcoming surgery. It was reported that the model was preparing for a two-month sabbatical due to being under too much pain. Apparently, Brooke has been suffering from the hammer toe condition for years, but she let her situation deteriorate to the extent of being unable to put up with the pain anymore. She was quoted saying: “Just walking, I’m in pain and when I work I have to wear high heels all the time.”
Friendship In A Hopeless Place
Hollywood and fans wanted to believe that Brooke Shields and the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, were together, but reality was much simpler than that. Having both come from homes with over-controlling, abusive parents, the two icons found comfort in one another – and became best friends in no time. Their friendship lasted 11 years before drifting apart, which may have been due to Brooke’s Rolling Stone magazine interview in which she referred to Michael as “asexual.”
Tired Of Superficiality
Casually dating actor John Travolta and then rumored to be basking in the arms of Monaco’s royal Prince Albert, Brooke never let her priorities shift as she was determined to prove she was more than just a pretty face. In 1983, Brooke graduated from Dwight-Englewood preparatory school in New Jersey – but that was not enough for the multi-talent. Brooke opted to enroll at the renowned Princeton University, where she later completed a bachelor’s degree in romance languages.
Superman Trumps Abstinence
In her new memoir There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me, Brooke describes in detail the first night she spent with actor Dean Cain. In spite of starring in several films in very questionably age-appropriate roles, abstinence was a major deal for Brooke. Brooke met fellow actor Dean Cain while attending Princeton. Cain was asked about their relationship on the Meredith Vieira Show, to which he replied – “I was in love with her certainly, we were in college, sweethearts.”
Big Brooke fans will spot the New York City-based star in a variety of projects: she’s had a recurring role as neighbor Rita on the hit sitcom The Middle since 2010, in 2013 she started voicing Mrs. Goodman in the animated comedy series Mr. Pickles, 2014 brought on The Michael J. Fox Show and in early 2017, Brooke appeared on Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special proving that while some things are better off staying in the past, Brooke is definitely here to stay for the future.