January 13, 2015

Brooke Shields' Mommy Issues

Model/actress/80s icon Brooke Shields has released her second book, There Was A Little Girl, this one about the relationship with her late mother, Teri Shields.

Brooke Shields has always seemed kind and likable, from the Blue Lagoon days to her TV career, and as a grown up seemed smart and interesting despite a weird dating history... Michael Jackson? George Michael? John Travolta? Do you even like straight men?

In Brooke's heyday her mother was famous for (allegedly) being an overbearing outspoken stage mother. Her daughter defended her at the time. Now it turns out we didn't know the half of it.

According to There Was A Little Girl, Teri Shields was an insecure, social climbing, partying, alcoholic, angry hoarder who, yes, loved her daughter madly, and cashed in on that gravy train every chance she got.

Teri met and romanced the younger, richer Frank Shields, got pregnant, played hard to get, got married, had Brooke, got divorced, and then made her daughter her career... and her whole life.

I zoomed through this book. It is a fascinating read. Shields writes with an honesty and intimacy that feels like your smart best girlfriend is sharing her life stories with you over many glasses of wine.

While this is not an autobiography, and Shields ignores large chunks of her career, including many movies she refers to as "shitty", Shields certainly dishes here... some juicy bits:

  • being a controversial child star in Pretty Baby, 
  • fired by Calvin Klein after that famous jeans ad
  • losing her virginity to actor Dean Cain at age 22 
  • her failed first marriage to tennis legend Andre Agassi, a drug addict who helped her break free from Teri
  • her relationship with actor Liam Neeson a heavy drinker who proposed and then dumped her
  • the suicide of her Suddenly Susan costar David Strickland
  • and her now healthy marriage to writer Chris Henchy  
Shields would be well into her 20s before even tried to break free. When Brooke seeks new management after her marriage to Agassi, Teri accuses Brooke of “divorcing” her.

So yep she dishes. And yes it is fun. And it is also somewhat troubling how her mother over shadows so many of these relationships. Dysfunction, thy name is Shields.

Shields tells the story of a mother/daughter relationship with huge amounts of devotion and dysfunction, of Sundays at church when on the same day she knew which bars to hit to find her mother. 

At age 13 Shields stages the first intervention. It doesn't work.

Sadly, Teri never finds sobriety and the two never have true closure before Teri drifts into dementia and dies in 2013. Brooke, never able to break free, is at her side....“My mother did not want to die but she spent a lifetime killing herself.”

This is a touching, troubling, honest, and yes weirdly entertaining read. Totally recommend it.