Pretty Baby: Brooke Shield’s Unparalleled Success While Growing Up In the Spotlight

Brooke Shields was one of the most recognizable young movie stars in the early 1980s. Not only is she known for her signature brows but for her wholesome image. At just 15-years-old Shields had already risen to stardom as a young actress and model with commercials and movies on her resume.

Image: Pinterest / Young Brooke Shields

The child star rose to fame in many controversial ways; starring in a handful of risque movies all while maintaining her innocence. Her rise to fame led to her landing a modeling gig with one of the most controversial ad campaigns of the century.

Early Start

Brooke began her career when she was only 11 months old; in 1966 she shot her first national ad for Ivory Soap. When she was five years old her mother declared her daughter’s future in show business saying “She’s the most beautiful child and I’m going to help her with her career.”

Image: Fanpop.com

She was a successful child model represented by the Ford modeling agency. Shields was in such demand as a model that Eileen Ford created a children’s division at the agency just for her. At 14, Brooke Shields was announced to the world of high fashion when she appeared on the cover of Vogue. She is still the youngest fashion model to ever grace its cover.

Too Much Too Soon

The young Brooke landed her breakout role in 1978’s Pretty Baby. At the time, she portrayed a child prostitute and was involved in some very questionable scenes on screen. The film was very controversial at the time and received harsh criticisms for its inappropriate use of a child.

Image: Vanity Fair

The movie was based in New Orleans and inspired by the life and times of E. J. Bellocq, who photographed Storyville prostitutes; in the film, his character falls in love with the much younger Sheilds. Brooke was nominated for an Oscar and starred alongside Susan Sarandon who played her mother in the film.

The Brooke Book

This image was the cover of Brooke’s first book, called the Brooke Book. It was released in 1978. It contains photographs of Brooke by the world’s great photographers combined with autobiographical information and Brooke’s poetry, drawings, short stories, and scrapbook clippings to chronicle the life of the thirteen-year-old model and actress.

Image: Fanpop.com

Brooke later went on to write two biographies entitled, There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me released in 2014 written after the death of her mother. The next biography, Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression was released after the birth of her daughter in 2005.

Greatest Role To Date

1980’s Blue Lagoon is widely accepted as one of Brooke Sheild’s best-known roles. The film takes place in the Victorian period and features two children who survive a shipwreck and are stranded on a tropical island in the South Pacific.

Image: Amazon.com

Alone, with no adults to guide them, the pair make a simple life together, unaware that sexual maturity will cause the two teenagers to fall in love. The romantic survival film starred a 14-year-old Brooke in topless scenes throughout the movie with her hair glued to her skin.

Making a Name for Herself

Another leading role came with the lesser-known Wanda Nevada in 1979 when she starred alongside actor and director Peter Fonda. Set in the 1950s in Arizona, the story follows a drifter and gambler played by Fonda himself who wins a 13- year old orphan in a poker game.

Image: Tumbler / wanda -nevada

Thirteen you old Brooke accompanies the almost 40-year-old actor on the road as they seek out gold in this western-style film. She plays a stunning girl whose charm and ambitions are beyond her young years. The two go on adventures, unlike anything she has ever experienced before.

Cover Girl

Brooke was granted massive exposure when she was featured on the cover of Seventeen magazine in 1978. At the age of 16, Shields had already appeared on the cover of every major fashion magazine including; Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, Mademoiselle, Seventeen, and Vogue.

Image: Harpers Bazaar

In 1981 alone, she was on the cover of over 30 magazines. Between the years of 1980 and 1985, she appeared on more than 300 magazine covers internationally. Shields was so popular among younger girls that she had her very own Brooke Shields doll. This became available to purchase across the world.

Maintaining Her Innocence

Brooke was a regular New York City nightclub at Studio 54 during its heyday. Despite what went on around her at the wild club, she remained true to her values. “I would get invited to Studio 54, but I’d leave before all the craziness and drugs happened. I never saw the bag passed around,” she insisted on her days at the infamous nightclub.

Image: Pinterest / Vintage Everyday

The pretty baby was attending the nightclub as young as 14 years old but still maintained her innocence. And she continued to be unaware of her surroundings and continued getting invited to industry parties and events as a blossoming 16-year-old.

Mom By Her Side

Brooke’s mom, Teri Shields was often criticized for letting her then 12-year-old daughter play a child prostitute in Pretty Baby. Shields defends her mother and says it all seems mild compared to what parents allow their children to do today.

Image: ninjajournalist.com

“I was such a naïve, innocent child, I wasn’t Lolita. I didn’t have that precocious understanding of my sexuality,” she says. “My mother was an enormous part of my life and of who I am today,” the actress said in a statement released by her spokeswoman. “I loved her, laughed with her, and respected her. And although she had her share of struggles, she was my mom.”

Too Much Pressure

Before Teri became her daughter’s full-time manager when Brooke first entered showbiz as a child, the New Jersey native was herself a model for Lord & Taylor department store. She also worked as a hair and makeup artist and a hostess at the famed Gaslight Cafe in Greenwich Village.

Image: ABC News

Brookes’s mom Teri could not handle the pressure. She turned into an alcoholic and completely took over Brooke’s life – both on a professional and personal level. Teri managed her daughter’s career until 1994 when the actress decided to turn elsewhere for professional guidance and representation.

Family Background

Brooke’s father, Frank Shields, was an Ivy League graduate from a wealthy society family. He was also seven years younger than her mother Teri. He was just out of college and beginning his career when they met for the first time.

Image: Pinterest / Brooke Shields for MAC

Teri married Brooke’s father in 1964, but they divorced in 1965 when Brooke was 5 months old. She went on to raise her daughter as a single mom. Brooke maintained a loving relationship with her father. He went on to become an executive at Revlon cosmetics. He eventually remarried years after her parents split.

Type Cast

Brooke was known for her wholesome image, but for such a young and innocent girl Brooke was landing some pretty contrasting acting roles. After stirring up controversy with 1978’s Pretty Baby, she later starred alongside George Burns in Just You and Me kid. Here she played a teenage runaway being chased by drug dealers.

Image: Fanpop.com

A year later in 1980 came Blue Lagoon which exploited and sexualized her innocence. And yet another taboo film came her way in 1981 with Endless Love. This featured the 15-year-old Brooke and her 17-year-old boyfriend, who start and intense and passionate love affair despite family approval. The results are nothing sort of dramatic; resulting in teenage lust, arson, and a tragic ending. This sounds like another controversial role for the young starlet.

First Crush

After friendly red carpet dates with the king of pop, Brooke quickly became head over heels with another musician… However, her crush “was definitely one-sided.” Who was this guy? None other than pop sensation George Michael.

Image: Daily Mail UK

In her book, she details a memorable night with him: “As we were nearing the house, George put up the partition and turned to me. I thought oh my God I’m going to have my first time with George Michael in the back of a limo. I gazed at George and puckered my lips. He looked deep into my eyes and said, ‘I think we need to take a break. I need to concentrate on my career.’ I was devastated.”

Not Just A Pretty Face

Taking influence from her Ivy League graduate father, Brooke took a break from her career to pursue her education. In 1983, she famously put her modeling and acting career on hold to attend Princeton University, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Romance Languages.

Image: Pinterest / Brooke Shields

Little did she know her time at the university would allow her to grow up and experience more adult situations. Brooke met her college sweetheart in Princeton classmate football player, Dean Cain. It was her junior year when she met Cain and they dated until she graduated from college.

College Sweethearts

It was Brookes’s plan to preserve her virginity for marriage, she even wrote about this in a 1985 book. It was a big deal for her and she was brought up with a strict upbringing on the subject. She ended up losing her virginity to Cain at the age of 22.

Image: E Online

“He was incredibly and painfully patient with me regarding sex,” she writes of her time with the future Superman. “We were always holding hands and trying to find ways to be alone and kiss, but poor guy, I made him wait and wait…”

Pressure to Keep Up with Her Reputation

Abstinence was a major deal for the young model, planning to preserve her virginity for marriage. Having been brought up in the spotlight Brooke says she’d been “terrified of physical contact with boys” and even says: “I believe my mom wanted me to stay a virgin for as long as possible.”

Image: Pinterest / Brooke Shields

Despite the risque roles she was cast in throughout her youth, her mom had raised her with a strict upbringing on the subject. Brooke writes in her 2014 book, “Even when mom wasn’t around, I felt as if she was watching.”

First Marriage

Brooke met tennis star Andre Agassi through a mutual friend in 1993 and they fell in love, bonding over the “strange burden of fame and overpowering parents.” He helped her separate from her overbearing momager.

Image: SF Gate

She married the tennis star in 1997, but after two years of marriage, the two were growing apart mostly because of their differing careers. One breaking point was when Agassi went crazy out of jealousy when Brooke guest-starred on Friends. She later went on to find out he was hiding a drug addiction; the two decided to part ways in 1999.

Did They Or Didn’t They?

Jackson first met Shields in 1981 at the Academy Awards. They enjoyed a close relationship. “We loved each other,” she says, but only platonically. “We just felt safe with each other. “They met when Brooke was 13 and he was 19. “I didn’t want anything from him,” she says.

Image: Pinterest / The Brooke Shields Look Book

“We watched movies and ate candy and laughed at the craziness around us… he was like a little kid who asked questions about dating,” she recalls. “Nobody was nurturing him through that stuff. He was terrified.”

Not Your Average Teenager

Brooke was a natural in front of the camera. Since becoming one of the most recognizable faces for being both an actor and model, she was making around $10,000-a-day by the time she was just 16. In fact, she was a far cry away from living a normal teenage life.

Image: Henson.com

Brooke was given opportunities to make guest appearances on shows most actors and actresses aspire to have the chance to be on during their career. She was the youngest star to ever appear on The Muppet Show and host ABC’s, Fridays, a live sketch comedy show.

More Opportunities Arise

Although Brooke broke into the industry as a child actress, it was her iconic Calvin Klein jeans ad, shot by Richard Avedon in 1980, that solidified Shields as one of the decade’s great beauties. The 15-year-old Shields had already risen to stardom as a young actress and model with commercials and movies on her resume.

Image: Pinterest / Brooke Shields

When up and coming jeans designer Calvin Klein first landed his eyes on Shields when she was featured on the cover of Seventeen magazine in 1978. Klein immediately knew he was looking at an “it” girl. He referred to her as “the most beautiful girl in the world” – and he wanted her to model his jeans.

Want to Know What Comes Between Me and My Calvins?

In 1980, the 15-year old modeled and posed seductively in the skin-tight pants. She went on to spark more controversy with the tagline “You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.” This infamous campaign led both Calvin Klein and Brooke to new fashion heights.

Image: Pinterest / Elle Magazine

Although the TV commercial was banned by ABC and CBS in New York, Klein himself didn’t back down from his choice to continue to run and push the ad. The buzz around the first-ever high-fashion designer denim collection only boosted sales for the brand. It also landed Brooke Shields more fame and fortune.

TV Star

In 1996, Shields was given her own situation comedy on NBC network’s Suddenly Susan, where she played a San Francisco based writer struggling to reassemble her life and adjust to being single following her breakup with her wealthy fiancé.

Image: listal.com

Though never among the most natural and relaxed of actresses, Shields gradually grew into her role and proved to be a competent, charismatic comedy actress. This role landed her two Golden Globe nominations. The sitcom ran for four seasons before being canceled.

Behind the Scenes

Although this pretty baby was once the most recognizable faces in the world and dubbed the world’s most beautiful baby in America. Brooke had her own insecurities that often stemmed from her home life. “My mother would get drunk and say: ‘Why don’t you move your fat ass?’ So, I’ve always believed I had a fat ass,” she explained.

Image: Pinterest / Brooke Shields

“I modeled swimwear when I was 15, and even then I didn’t think I had a swimsuit body,” Brooke sais in an interview. “I was a cover girl, not a supermodel. I was ‘neck up’ — the face, the eyebrows — and I was always described as ‘athletic’; ‘not rail-thin’; ‘not a runway model.’ Those messages, they seep into your consciousness.”

Accepting Herself

“What’s interesting about it now as a 54-year-old, I’m now starting to celebrate my body in a way that I never felt free to do it as a kid,” she said in 2018. Her husband, Chris Henchy, finally helped her see her body in a positive light.

Image: Net-a-porter.com

She met her second husband, who is a TV writer through a mutual friend. They then married in 2001. The two have been happily married for over 18 years and two beautiful daughters named Grier Hammond and Rowan Francis.

A Working Actress

After Suddenly Susan ended the actress starred in several small TV roles and TV movie roles before landing a regular part on That 70’s Show for seven episodes. She continued to guest star before landing it big on Lipstick Jungle.

Image: People Magazine

Brooks had a lead role in the sitcom which lasted for two seasons until 2009. In more recent years the actress had a recurring role ABC’s The Middle, which ran from 2010-2018. The actress lent her voice as Mrs. Goodman in the animated TV series Mr. Pickles from 2013- 2018. Brooke also starred in Jane the Virgin for 12 episodes.