Christie Brinkley: American Beauty

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Strong Career, Strong Life

Well, it can, and did -- but she has an inner strength that has seen her through. Recently, when Alexa was going through her own breakup, Brinkley told her she could be strong and beautiful without a man. And these days Brinkley seems to be heeding her own advice. She has a close-knit group of girlfriends from different points in her life. Her parents now live nearby. The timing of their move couldn't have been better. "It's just so wonderful having them here," Brinkley says.

One of Brinkley's other great supports during this trying time has been Billy Joel, with whom she remains close. "Billy's great. He's godfather to Jack and Sailor, and you know there have been times when I have had to spend time with lawyers or whatever and he's babysat. He lives nearby, so he's like, 'Send 'em over here!'"

Indeed, at the mention of her kids, Brinkley cheers up. What makes her happy? "The sound of my children's footsteps," she says without hesitation. Alexa is forging her own career as a songwriter and performer. "Jack is our rocker," Christie says, pointing to an enormous drums-piano-bass-mike setup in her living room. On weekdays she's there when her kids get home from school. She spends her weekends kayaking, fishing, or skiing with them. The life Brinkley has now is certainly not the one she envisioned for herself while growing up in Malibu and dreaming of a bohemian existence.

"I thought modeling was a shallow occupation, and I pictured myself at the Beaux-Arts in Paris." Which is where she ended up in 1973 when she was 18, with a starter marriage to a French illustrator. She was walking down a street when an American photographer asked her to stop by Elite, a top modeling agency. She was signed immediately and began one of the most illustrious careers in modeling history.

But if her professional life was Teflon-coated, her personal life has been a bit stickier. She divorced her first husband in 1981, then had a romance with the heir to the Moet & Chandon Champagne fortune, who was killed in a car crash in 1983. Then there were nine years with Joel, from 1985 to 1994, and a quickie marriage to real-estate developer Richard Taubman, in 1994. One year later, with a new baby, Brinkley was single again -- and in less than two years remarried to Peter Cook.

"I would never get married again," she says firmly. "With what I know I don't see why anyone would get married." Which is not to say she is not a romantic. "I totally believe in true love. And I think couples should celebrate their love over and over again." But, she adds, they needn't formalize it. "In fact, right at the beginning of a relationship, I would formalize an exit strategy."

Continued on page 3:  Finding Inner Peace


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