Christie Brinkley (born Christie Lee Hudson; February 2, 1954) is an American model and actress. Brinkley gained worldwide fame beginning in the late 1970s with three consecutive Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue covers through 1981. She spent twenty five years as the face of CoverGirl (the longest running cosmetics contract of any model in history), has appeared on over 500 magazine covers, and has signed contracts with major brands—both fashion and non-fashion.
Brinkley went on to work as a film actress, illustrator, television personality, photographer, writer, and designer, and as an activist for human and animal rights and the environment.
Brinkley has been married four times, most notably to musician Billy Joel, several of whose music videos she appeared in. Her fourth marriage, to architect Peter Cook, ended in a much-publicized 2008 divorce.
With a career spanning more than three decades, magazines such as Allure, Playboy, and Men's Health have named Brinkley one of the most attractive women of all time. Her financial holdings in 2008 were worth an estimated USD $80 million, primarily as the owner of real estate. In February 2012 she was ranked third in the Daily Mail list "World's 20 richest models."
Brinkley was born Christie Lee Hudson in Monroe, Michigan, the daughter of Marjorie (née Bowling) and Herbert Hudson. Her mother moved to California, where she later married television writer Don Brinkley, who adopted Christie and her brother Gregory. During this time, the family lived in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Brinkley was educated at Paul Revere Jr. High and attended Le Lycée Français de Los Angeles from 9th to 12th grade. After graduation she moved to Paris to study art in 1973.
Brinkley was discovered in 1973 by American photographer Errol Sawyer in a post office in Paris. He took her first modeling pictures and introduced her to John Casablancas of Elite Model Management agency in Paris. Brinkley stated later: "I was basically a surfer girl from California. I never looked like a model." After being introduced to Elite, where Brinkley met the French photographers Patrick Demarchelier and Alex Chatelain who called Eileen Ford and told her about Christie, she returned to California, and by the end of a lunch meeting with Nina Blanchard (Eileen Ford affiliate in Los Angeles) she had been booked for three national ad campaigns. Multiple appearances on the cover of Glamour soon followed, along with a record 25-year contract with cosmetics brand CoverGirl, one of the longest modeling contracts in history. In 2005, CoverGirl again signed Brinkley, using her in ads in magazines and TV commercials for mature skin products.
In 1983, Brinkley wrote and illustrated a book on health and beauty titled Christie Brinkley's Outdoor Beauty and Fitness Book, which topped the New York Times best seller list. In 1990 Brinkley was, along with Cheryl Tiegs and Beverly Johnson, one of the three models featured as dolls produced by Matchbox Toys called The Real Model Collection. Brinkley illustrated the cover art for Billy Joel's 1993 triple platinum albumRiver of Dreams. For this, Rolling Stone awarded her the honor of "Best album cover of the year". Brinkley has designed clothing patterns for Simplicity Pattern and in March, 1994 helped design, for brand Nouveau Eyewear, her line of prescription glasses and sunglasses called Christie Brinkley Perspectives with worldwide sales. In Spring 1998 released her own signature fragrance, Believe. Her jewelry collection is manufactured by Swank.
In 1991 Brinkley was considered to have the ideal, all-American look with her blonde hair, blue eyes, slim figure, and soft features, when Allure first conducted a survey taking the pulse of the average American (men and women) searching for their beauty perceptions and preferences. In 1998 Playboy readers voted Brinkley one of the 100 Sexiest Women of the 20th century. Brinkley is ranked third in the AskMen.comTop 10 Supermodels Of All Time. In 2011, Men's Health named her one of the "100 Hottest Women of All-Time", ranking her at No. 16.
Brinkley had a guest role in December 2012 on the hit comedy sitcom Parks and Recreation. In the episode "Ron and Diane" she played Gayle Gergich, wife of Jerry Gergich played by Jim O'Heir. In December 2012, Brinkley co-hosted Anderson Cooper Live with Anderson Cooper is a now-famous show where Cooper discussed his temporary blindness. She also danced with DWTS alumnus Gilles Marini during the show. Brinkley's financial holdings were worth an estimated USD $80 million in 2008, primarily as the owner of real estate, much of it in the Hamptons. Brinkley was ranked third in the Daily Mail list "World's 20 richest models," released in February 2012.
Modeling a dress by Calvin Klein at the 2005 Red Dress Collection fashion show in New York's Bryant Park
In 1973, with French artist Jean-François Allaux (born in Rabat, Morocco) that ended in 1981 without children.
In 1985, with musician Billy Joel (born May 9, 1949 in Bronx, New York) that ended in 1994 with one child Alexa Ray Joel. Brinkley and Joel met in 1983 on the Island of St Barts, in the Caribbean. Joel and Brinkley were married on March 23, 1985 on a yacht on the Hudson River and this was the second marriage for both. Joel was 35 and Brinkley 31 and took their vows in a private ceremony attended by 175 family members and friends, including Paul Simon and the Stray Cats.
In 1994 with Real estate developer Richard Taubman (born 1948). Brinkley and Taubman met in 1994 when a mutual friend introduced them. He proposed to her in May 1994 although she and Billy Joel were still married. They were married on December 22, 1994, in Telluride, Colorado near the area where they were both in a helicopter crash in March 1994. Brinkley was 40 years old and Taubman 46 and she announced at their wedding that they were expecting a baby boy. The marriage ended in 1995 with one child, Jack Paris Taubman.
In 1996 with Peter Halsey Cook (born January 1, 1959, New Jersey), an architect. Cook and Brinkley first met in 1979 when he was modeling; their paths also crossed a few times after that. They were later reintroduced by a mutual friend, NBC's Jill Rappaport, and announced their engagement in August 1996. They married on September 21, 1996 at a ranch in Bridgehampton, New York. Brinkley was 42 and Cook 37. They had nearly 120 guests at their wedding, including Billy Joel. They had one child, Sailor Brinkley Cook. They divorced on October 3, 2008. Brinkley's first lawyer in the case was Robert Wallack, and she was later represented by Robert Stephan Cohen, both top divorce attorneys. The divorce proceedings, held in the summer of 2008, were regular tabloid fodder, in part due to Cook's admission that he had committed adultery with eighteen-year-old Diana Bianchi. Press and public interest increased with Cook's revelations that he had paid a large sum of money to Bianchi in the hopes of forestalling a lawsuit, and had spent thousands of dollars each month on internet pornography. Brinkley and Cook settled out-of-court in July 2008, with Brinkley granting her fourth husband $2.1 million in exchange for custody of their two children and the retention of 18 disputed properties in the Hamptons. Additionally, Cook was granted parenting time with the children. Further details of the settlement were kept private. The children became a focus of public attention when the former model contended that Cook used "overwhelming" physical force when unhappy with or disciplining the children. Alexa Ray Joel, Brinkley's daughter with ex-husband Billy Joel, testified about such behavior toward her, which Cook denied. Peter Cook wanted a judge to appoint a parenting coordinator, demand Brinkley enroll in anger management classes and order her to cover his legal expenses. In July 2008, a court-appointed psychiatrist, speaking during child custody proceedings in Brinkley's fourth divorce, testified that while he believed Brinkley should gain custody of her and Cook's children, both she and Cook needed therapy. Her divorce from Peter Cook was officially finalized on October 3, 2008.
Jack Paris Taubman, (born June 2, 1995), with Richard Taubman. He was later adopted by Peter Cook and named Jack Paris Brinkley Cook.
Sailor Lee Brinkley Cook (born July 2, 1998), with Peter Cook.
Brinkley and her children are fans of the New York Islanders ice hockey team. Brinkley began doing promotions for the team after being noticed at games. In 2007, she showed her support by writing a blog for NHL.com and filming a commercial.
Brinkley has one brother named Gregory Donald Brinkley, a nutritionist and father of one son and one daughter: Ian Amadeo Brinkley (born January 15, 1990) and Elliott Marie Brinkley (born January 5, 1997).
Brinkley became a vegetarian when she was 13 years old and then got her entire family to become vegetarians. She lives on Long Island in Sag Harbor, New York; she previously lived in Bridgehampton and Amagansett, Long Island. Brinkley's parents, Marjorie and Don Brinkley, died in Sag Harbor, NY in the summer of 2012 within seven weeks of each other, after a 50-plus year marriage. Both suffered from long-term illnesses. TV writer and producer Don died in July, and Marjorie in September.
Brinkley winds up to throw an autographed football into the audience during a USO show in the Eagle Sports Complex at Tuzla Air Base, Bosnia and Herzegovina (December 22, 1999)
Heart Award, special honor from the American Heart Association in the "12th Annual Heart of the Hamptons Gala" for her commitment to helping children live healthier lives. Brinkley said she was very honored to receive the award from the AHA being convinced that the research from the organization made it possible for her mother to be alive after suffering five strokes.
Smart Cookie Award, April 21, 2008, honored her and three other amazing charitable mothers in New York at the "Second Annual Smart Cookie Awards Gala", voted by Cookie Magazine readers.
Humanitarian Award, given by March of Dimes. This organization is dedicated to improving the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality through research, community services, education and advocacy.
Merit Award, by the non-profit USA national organization Mothers Voices which mission is strengthens family communication about sex, sexual health and HIV/AIDS/STD prevention through education and awareness, mobilize parents and caregivers to become their child’s frontline sexual health educator.
Mother of the Year, given by The National Mothers Day committee at a ceremony held in New York City.
Merit Award, given by Make-A-Wish Foundation in New York. They work granting the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy.
Americas Mothers and Shakers, named by Redbook Magazine for her involvement in "STAR — Standing for Truth About Radiation".
HBA's Positively Beautiful Award, named by HBA Global Expo on behalf of her work with the international charity Smile Train.
Mothers Who Make A Difference Award, given by Love Our Children USA on the 2011 Sixth Annual edition, recognizing and supporting four celebrity moms for balancing motherhood, work and causes.
^"Joel, Brinkley make splash with wedding". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. March 24, 1985. p. A2. "Joel, 35, and Brinkley, 31, took their vows in a private ceremony attended by 175 family members and friends, including Paul Simon and the Stray Cats."
^"Brinkley, Joel Parents of 'Uptown Girl'". Los Angeles Times. December 30, 1985. p. 2. "The 6½-pound girl, as yet unnamed, was born in a Manhattan hospital at about 11:45 pm Sunday, said the spokeswoman, Geraldine McInerney."