Christie Brinkley is a name that has become synonymous with beauty and style. In the 1980s, she was the epitome of the perfect model, with her stunning looks and outgoing personality. However, beneath her glamorous exterior, she has endured many personal struggles and tragedies.
Christie Lee Brinkley was born on February 2, 1954, in Monroe, Michigan. Her family eventually relocated to California, where Christie spent most of her formative years. Her mother, Marjorie, married Donald Brinkley, a writer who was well-known in the television business. Donald wrote nearly 400 teleplays and was the creator of hit shows like Trapper John M.D. and Medical Center.
When Christie was a teenager, Donald officially adopted her and her brother Greg. They stopped calling him their stepfather and started calling him their father. This family dynamic gave Christie the stability and support she needed to pursue her dreams.
After earning her diploma from the French School of Los Angeles, Christie moved to Paris in 1972 to pursue art and to live a bohemian lifestyle. She worked as an apprentice illustrator for a few years but didn’t find much success. However, her life changed when American photographer Errol Sawyer discovered her in 1973.
Sawyer saw Christie walking down the street with her puppy in a basket and asked if he could take some modeling photos of her. Christie agreed, and the rest is history. Sawyer put her in touch with various modeling agencies, and she eventually met with Eileen Ford, who was in charge of one of the biggest modeling agencies in the world.
Christie agreed to carry out three significant national advertising campaigns all around the United States. This led to many more job offers, including a record-breaking contract with CoverGirl. The agreement lasted for 25 years, making it one of the longest-ever model contracts.
Christie was featured on the cover of Glamour magazine and on the classic Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover from 1979 to 1981. This was the first time the same model had graced the cover for three consecutive years. She also received two of her own calendars from Sports Illustrated. In the early 1980s, Christie was everywhere and came to represent the whole decade.
Christie wanted to try her hand at acting and moved to Hollywood after her successful modeling career. She made her acting debut in the 1983 film National Lampoon’s Vacation, starring opposite Chevy Chase as “The girl in the red Ferrari.” She reprised this role in another Vacation film in 1997. Christie has also made numerous television appearances and has been in several music videos, including Billy Joel’s classic “Uptown Girl.”
Despite her many successes, Christie has also experienced significant personal struggles. She has been through four divorces, which may make her an unlikely source of relationship advice. However, her tragic love story with Frenchman Oliver Chandon de Brailles is worth mentioning.
The couple met in 1982 at New York’s famed Studio 54 when Christie was promoting her Sports Illustrated calendar. Oliver was the heir to the Moët et Chandon Champagne fortune and came from a very different world than Christie’s ex-husband. Despite their differences, they fell in love, and Oliver publicly praised Christie’s beauty and simplicity.
However, their love story came to a tragic end when Oliver died in 1983 after a horrific car crash on a racetrack in Le Mans, France. Christie was devastated by his death and has since said that he was the love of her life.
Despite her personal struggles, Christie has remained an icon of beauty and style. She made her Broadway theatrical debut in 2010 as Roxie Hart in the classic musical Chicago and most recently participated in the popular show The Mask.