Christie Brinkley: American Beauty
How Could It Happen to Her?
Christie Brinkley has sold her soul to the Devil. This, as far as I can tell, is the only way a 55-year-old woman can look the way she does. While sitting with her in her Bridgehampton, New York, home, I notice just a few faint lines, no sags -- and definitely no facelift. She tells me she tried Botox and didn't like it and now covers the lines on her forehead with a curtain of beach-blond bangs. But if the Prince of Darkness has granted her freakishly youthful beauty, he has also made her life a private hell over the past few years.
In 2005 Brinkley learned that her fourth husband, architect Peter Cook, had been cheating on her with an 18-year-old office assistant. For more than a week in the summer of 2008 her divorce led the evening news with lurid revelations about Cook's Internet porn habit. When the divorce was finalized last October, Brinkley emerged victorious: She won custody of their 11-year-old daughter, Sailor, and 14-year-old son, Jack (Cook had adopted Jack, Brinkley's child from her third marriage), and ownership of their 18 properties. Still, can you put a price tag on all that awfulness? "I feel like I should apologize to everybody for them having to read all of that tawdry stuff, and having it delivered to their kitchen tables when their kids are around, you know?" Brinkley says.
No apology necessary. Unwittingly, and certainly unwillingly, Christie Brinkley did American women a favor. When a mate cheats we tend at first to blame our own physical imperfections: "If only I hadn't gained weight...." But Peter Cook cheated on Christie Brinkley. And when he did, America thought: Wow. If it could happen to her, it could happen to anybody. That thought occurred to me, too, as Brinkley and I sip tea and nibble homemade oatmeal cookies. Her labradoodle, Maple Sugar, and yorkie, Pixel, hover close by, and somewhere a parrot is squawking. Everywhere there are framed photos of Jack, Sailor, and Alexa Ray, 23, her daughter with singer Billy Joel.
Brinkley is wearing artfully ripped jeans and a T-shirt, an outfit that shows off her extraordinary body. A few days earlier at the LHJ photo shoot, we all stared a little slack-jawed at the sculpted thighs and abs of a woman who was alive when Eisenhower was president. How does she do it? "Well, I don't have a mirror in the gym," she says. "I don't try to get as buff as Madonna. I don't have that kind of time or interest to put into it, but I do work out." Brinkley's beauty -- and body -- is legendary. What other model can claim more than 500 magazine covers spanning three decades, including three consecutive Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues, campaigns for products from Chanel to Diet Coke, and a CoverGirl contract that lasted 20 years? Her particular blend of leonine glamour and California athleticism have always made her seem invulnerable. How could something terrible happen to someone who looked like that?