Currently, Brooke has a part in an independent feature, Backstreet Dreams, in which Brooke Shields and Company is a financial partner. The film seems destined to hit the video circuit faster than she’d like. Brooke needs a big movie. For Teri’s daughter, it’s time, if she can, to let go.


Unlike most actresses, Brooke Shields has an odd inability to hear herself, to stand on the outside and TUNE IN. Woven in with her lucid observations are ones that are much harder to fathom, highly charged statements made with complete calm. It’s like flipping on the switch to a TV.

“I had this favorite doll, Blabby,” Brooke explains. “She’s still my favorite doll. She has no hair now. But I’ve still got her; she’s like a little person. Anyway, I used to hug her to me and say, ‘Nothing comes between my Blabby and me!’ So when we did those commercials, when I read the line, I read it the way I said it about Blabby. ‘You know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing!’ So I went to Europe and when I came back there were headlines all over the place. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even understand. My mom was equally shocked; they made it seem like this little girl doesn’t wear underwear! Ridiculous!” At 15, maybe Brooke understood not to understand.


“I was thinking of reading My Mother, My Self,” says Brooke, “but I’m not into soul-searching this week.” When the discussion turns to her mom, Brooke gets cagey. “It’s hard, you know. It’s like a marriage. And I’m very impressionable as far as my mom is concerned. I’m so close to her. If we’re sharing something to eat, she can say, ‘this doesn’t taste very good,’ and I’ll be like blech, blech, you’re right. Even if I’ve liked it just a second before. If I get sick, she gets sick. I had something wrong with my arm, and so help me God she got a pain in exactly the same place. She said, ‘I don’t know, honey, I just feel so close to you.’”


Some say Teri Shields strapped Brooke to her as an infant when they went to sleep, for fear she’d succumb to crib death. And since then Teri’s always “protected” her. “She’s the lioness and I’m her cub,” says Brooke. When Brooke’s body double in Endless Love had a tiny blemish on her butt, Teri demanded that each frame be retouched. Teri dotes on Brooke. Are you thirsty? Do you need to tinkle? she’ll ask.

“They sort of told Brooke to move on [from her mother],” stepsister Diana Auchincloss says of the ICM agency. “But that will never happen.”


“People tell Brooke she doesn’t need her mother,” says her friend Stephanie Venditto. “How would that make you feel?”

“Nothing will ever replace that tie I have with my mother,” confirms Brooke, no doubt to ICM’s chagrin, “and no one should ever challenge that, because they’ve lost before they’ve started.” Shields recently moved over to the William Morris Agency.


The more Brooke talks about Teri, the more she contradicts herself. “I did the rebellion thing,” she’ll say. “I’m still in it. I had a deep resentment for anything she had to say and then when she was right, which was almost all the time, I got even more mad. It’s starting to work, but it’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with in my life.” Moments later, she’ll add, “I’ve come to realize that her best interest was for me. She was my best friend. I wasn’t going to fight her and go take drugs. She would have said, you want to take drugs, I’ll get you the best stuff. That’s literally how she was.”

These days, Brooke shares her Upper East Side townhouse and an estate in New Jersey with her mother. (Teri spends most of her time in New Jersey; Brooke, in New York.) The townhouse is pristine, decorated in a discreet modern-French style. Her People’s Choice awards sit in a glass display case along with her Friars Club plaque (Francis Albert Sinatra was her sponsor). Couture lamps, wood floors, lush plants, the townhouse is designed, just like the home of an east side magnate’s wife. Her daily life, like that of most actresses, is filled with classes: dance, acting, exercise. “She’s very booked,” says her sister. “Every minute is filled.” She visits her boyfriend, a Washington, D.C., real estate broker; she sees her father, Frank Shields, a former Revlon executive, fairly often. “I had one parent who avoided everything,” Brooke says of her father, “and another who was the opposite. Every morning [with Mom] it was a cathartic experience. Every single meal, so volatile.”


“Brooke’s a Weeble,” says Stephanie Venditto. “She may wobble but she won’t fall down. She’s been a pro since she was born.” It’s true—from all appearances, Brooke Shields doesn’t falter. She’s eminently pleasant; that anxiety attack seems far away. Where does she put it? She speaks articulately, she twirls her lightened honey-brown hair, she deftly dodges uncomfortable questions. She’s tactful when she catches you staring at her perfectly proportioned face; she looks away and then looks back. Like anyone who has done 1,000 interviews, she has the requisite responses: “I’m in a new place now. I like the place I’m in now.” You’ll find she liked the place she’s in now in quotes all over through the years. Brooke also reveals a central theme. “One thing I’m not good at,” she says, “is letting go. It’s so easy to be dependent. I’ve always wanted to please everyone. It’s taken me years to recognize that, let alone change it. I grew up seeking the approval of everybody.”

“She hung around with the BP’s at school. You know, the beautiful people,” says a classmate from Princeton. “But she was also a goody-two-shoes, the sort of student that stayed after class to schmooze the professor.” Sure enough, Brooke’s college guide recommends that approach in a section titled “Establishing a Good Relationship with Your Professor.” Actually, On Your Own is an extraordinarily revealing document (and not just because its title bears no relation to the life she leads). In its pages, Seventeen meets the New Right as Brooke covers (among many things) what clothes to bring to college, how to wash your skin, how to deal with homesickness and, most importantly, “Family Problems.” (This section feels as if not one but several editors had their hands on it.)

When I was thirteen I realized my mother had a serious drinking problem. I took the role of parent to her child, and did I ever take good care of her. If she got drunk in a restaurant, I’d help her home. If she passed out on the couch, I covered her up. The most difficult aspect of her alcoholism was dealing with the two different people my mother became…. Mom was never abusive, but she would become furious at every little thing. Her anger sometimes became unintentionally violent. Once, she threw a plate at me which accidentally hit me.


A plate thrown at Brooke accidentally hit her? The face of the 80s encounters the word of the 80s: denial. Asked about her mother’s behavior today, Brooke changes the subject or gives a nonanswer. “I resent that,” she’ll say, or “It was a media event!”

Denial or no, Brooke is terribly sweet.

Not fake. Maybe not a goody-two-shoes, but someone who longs to be perceived as clean, even though she realizes that sex sells. In Backstreet Dreams, there’s a love scene inexplicably carried out in a swimming pool, with Brooke wearing a sheer dress. That old mixed message. But Brooke, unsolicited, says that she “had a pretty strict upbringing.” And that’s what she wants to leave you with. For the world, the real Brooke is to be associated strictly with the straight and narrow.


At ticketing, an airline employee offers Brooke a bargain. “You’re 24, right?” he asks.

“Oh? Yes,” says Brooke, polite and confused. (She’s 25.) He smiles; she’s pleased. Brooke will travel to Washington for $49 instead of $119.


“Now I can take him out to dinner” she says happily. (Brooke has to worry about the cost of a dinner? Well, she doesn’t command a million per movie anymore.) She’s really glad she didn’t eat the yogurt. “Yeah! I didn’t eat it!”

“Oh,” gasps the young man at the check-in counter, “you’re even more beautiful in person.”


“Thank you,” says Brooke, cheerily, for the millionth time, and asks for a boarding pass.

“You’ll have to stand by,” he says, joking.

Brooke laughs.

“Can I have your autograph?”

“Sure.” She writes him a note. “To Anthony,” she says, and looks up at him. She hands him the note with two Xs next to her name.


On the plane Anthony rushes up the aisle. “You forgot your boarding pass,” he says, breathless from the sprint. Clearly the stewardesses were too struck to notice. She says thank you, she smiles, and he, peering over his shoulder, moves out of earshot. For a split second Brooke tells herself the truth. Under her breath she corrects him. “No. You forgot to give it to me.”