Belgian postcard in de ‘De 50 mooiste vrouwen van de eeuw’ (The 50 most beautiful women of the century) series by P magazine, no. 33. Photo: Isabel Snyder / Outline.
Brooke Shields (1965) is an American actress and model. She was initially a child model and gained critical acclaim at age 12 for her leading role in Louis Malle’s film Pretty Baby (1978), in which she played a child prostitute in New Orleans at the beginning of the 20th century. She continued to model and starred in films like The Blue Lagoon (1980), and Franco Zeffirelli’s Endless Love (1981). In 1983, Shields suspended her career as a model to attend Princeton University. In the 1990s, Shields returned to acting and appeared in minor roles in films and major roles in series like Suddenly Susan (1996-2000), for which she received two Golden Globe nominations, Lipstick Jungle (2008-2009) and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2017-2018).
Brooke Christa Shields was born in Manhattan, New York in 1965, the daughter of actress and model Teri Shields (née Schmon) and Revlon executive Frank Shields. Her paternal grandmother was Italian noblewoman Marina Torlonia di Civitella-Cesi, who was the daughter of an Italian prince and an American socialite. Her grandfather was Frank Shields, a professional tennis player who acted in a few films in the 1930s. Growing up, Shields took piano, ballet, and horse riding lessons. Shields began her career as a model when she was 11 months old in 1966. Her first job was for Ivory Soap, when she was shot by Francesco Scavullo. She continued as a successful child model with model agent Eileen Ford. Shields endorsed Breck shampoo, Colgate toothpaste and Band Aids. In 1978, when she was 12-years-old, Shields played a child prostitute in Pretty Baby (Louis Malle, 1978), with Keith Carradine and Susan Sarandon. She played Violet, a 12-year-old prostitute in Storyville, the red-light district of New Orleans during the last months of legal prostitution in 1917. Although the film was mostly praised by critics, it caused significant controversy due to its depiction of child prostitution and the nude scenes of Shields. This was followed by two interesting but less successful films, the drama King of the Gypsies (Frank Pierson, 1978) with Eric Roberts, and the Western comedy Wanda Nevada (Peter Fonda, 1979). In 1978, she met Michael Jackson and they had a long-time friendship. Jackson later invited her as his date to the 1991 wedding of Elizabeth Taylor and Larry Fortensky at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. In 1980, the 14-year-old Shields was the youngest fashion model ever to appear on the cover of Vogue. Later that same year, Shields appeared in controversial print and TV ads for Calvin Klein jeans. The TV ad included her saying the tagline, "Want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing." Two of her best known films are the romantic survival drama The Blue Lagoon (Randal Kleiser, 1980) with Christopher Atkins, which included nude scenes between the teenage lovers on a tropical island paradise in the South Pacific, and the romantic dreama Endless Love (Franco Zeffirelli, 1981) with Martin Hewitt. For The Blue Lagoon, Shields won the inaugural Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress. She later got this dubious award again for her role in Sahara (Andrew McLaglen, 1983) and her cameo in Speed Zone (Jim Drake, 1989), and in 2000 she was nominated as Worst Actress of the Century. Between 1980 and 1985, she appeared on more than 300 magazine covers internationally. By the age of 16, Shields had become one of the most recognisable faces in the United States, because of her dual career as a provocative fashion model and child actress. Shields attended the New Lincoln School until eighth grade. She graduated from the Dwight-Englewood School in Englewood, New Jersey, in 1983. She moved to a dorm at Princeton University to pursue her bachelor’s degree in French literature, where she graduated in 1987. Her autobiography, On Your Own, was published in 1985. Her 1987 senior thesis was titled ‘The Initiation: From Innocence to Experience: The Pre-Adolescent/Adolescent Journey in the Films of Louis Malle, Pretty Baby and Lacombe Lucien’.
Brooke Shields began her television career at an early age. In 1980, she was the youngest guest star to ever appear on The Muppet Show, in which she and the Muppets put on their own version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. She won critical acclaim for her portrayal of a real-life stalking-victim (whose case inspired America’s first anti-stalking law): California computer-engineer Laura Black, whose story was told in and by the TV docudrama I Can Make You Love Me (1993). In a 1996 episode of the popular comedy sitcom Friends, Shields played Joey’s stalker. This role led directly to her being cast in the sitcom Suddenly Susan, in which she starred from 1996 until 2000. Shields played Susan Keane, a glamorous San Francisco magazine writer who begins to adjust to being single, and who learns to be independent-minded after having been taken care of all her life. It earned her two Golden Globe nominations. In the late 2000s, Shields guest-starred on shows like FX’s Nip/Tuck and CBS’ Two and a Half Men. In 2007, she appeared as Miley Cyrus’ mother on the hit Disney show, Hannah Montana. In 2008, she returned in the primetime drama Lipstick Jungle, a dramedy following the professional and personal lives of three best friends, all top professionals in their respective careers. The series ended a year later. In the cinema, she starred in several independent films, including James Toback’s Black and White (2000), co-starring Robert Downey Jr. Brooke Shields also appeared in several Broadway theatre productions, including revivals of the musicals Grease (1994) as Betty Rizzo, Cabaret (2001) as Sally Bowles, Wonderful Town (2004–2005), Chicago (2005) as Roxie Hart, and The Addams Family (2011) as Morticia Addams. Shields has been married twice. From 1997 to 1999, she was married to tennis player Andre Agassi; the couple had been together since 1993. Following her divorce from Agassi, she married television writer Chris Henchy in 2001, after they had met through mutual friends in 1999. The couple has two daughters, Rowan (2003) and Grier (2006), and the family resides in Manhattan, New York City. In her book ‘Down Came the Rain’, she discusses her experience with postnatal depression after the birth of Rowan. It debuted at number six on The New York Times Best Sellers list. Following a much publicized dispute with Tom Cruise over her use of psychiatric medicine to overcome the depression, Cruise personally apologized to her for his criticism. Touched by the gesture, she accepted his apology and was among the guests at his wedding to Katie Holmes. In her 2014 autobiography, ‘There Was a Little Girl’, Shields revealed that she lost her virginity at age 22 to then sweetheart Dean Cain while both were attending Princeton University. Lately, she was seen the TV series Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (2017-2018) and Jane the Virgin (2018).
Sources: Biography.com, Wikipedia and IMDb.
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