But behind the beautiful front and all the glamour, Christie has gone through a lot of drama in her life. The supermodel has suffered terrible losses, and once, she almost died in a helicopter crash.
So what is the iconic model up to nowadays?
It’s hard to believe it – but as a 68-year-old, she’s as gorgeous as ever…
A surfer girl from California
Christie Lee Brinkley was born in Monroe, Michigan, on February 2, 1954. Together with her family, she later moved to California, and Christie grew up in the neighborhoods of Los Angeles.
Early in life, Christie got connections to the entertainment industry and Hollywood. Her mother, Marjorie, married a high-profile figure in the television industry: writer Donald Brinkley. Donald wrote over 400 teleplays but was most famous for writing and producing popular shows like Medical Center and Trapper John M.D.
Donald would later legally adopt Christie and her brother Greg. They referred to him as their father and not step-father.
After graduating from the French School of Los Angeles in 1972, Christie moved to Europe to study art in Paris and ”to be so bohemian.” She worked as an apprentice illustrator for a couple of years and seemed to have settled down.
But the move to Paris would change her life forever ¨when American photographer Errol Sawyer discovered the blonde beauty in 1973. Sawyer spotted Christie walking down the street, carrying her dog in a basket on the way to call a veterinarian. The photographer asked if he could take some modeling pictures of her, which became the start of a long and successful career as a model.
Landing a 25-year contract
Thanks to Errol Sawyer, Christie came in contact with other modeling agencies. Eventually, she had a lunch meeting with Eileen Ford, who ran one of the largest modeling agencies in the world. After that, Christie signed a deal to do three major national advertising campaigns across the U.S.
A lot of jobs followed. The young model appeared on the cover of Glamour magazine and signed a record-breaking contract with the cosmetic brand CoverGirl.
The contract lasted for 25 years – one of the longest model contracts ever written. From 1979 to 1981, Christie appeared on the iconic Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover – that was the first time the same model adorned the issue for three years in a row.
”When I started out, I remember very clearly a group of successful models saying, ‘You will be burned up and thrown away by the time you’re 30,” Christie told People in 2011.
In 1994, while still being married to Billy Joel, Christie was introduced to real estate developer Richard Taubman. He proposed to her even though Christie was a married woman at the time.
In December 1994, the couple wed in Telluride, Colorado. The couple tied the knot in front of 100 guests, in ski boots, at 12,000 feet.
Then the newlyweds skied down the mountain into the sunset.
The area was a special place for the supermodel. Just months before her wedding with Taubman, she survived a helicopter crash five miles north of the wedding spot. The scary incident took place during a heli-ski trip in April 1994. Christie, Taubman, and two others were left stranded on the mountainside for hours as their helicopter crashed.
”I don’t know what happened. It felt as if the mountain was sucking us into it,” Christie told Entertainment Tonight in 1994.
At the time of the accident, the media reported that Christie suffered minor injuries. Taubman suffered broken ribs, a broken collarbone and a punctured lung.
Christe had to deal with the scars and trauma for a long time. She suffered years of hip pain due to the crash, and in 2021, she finally had a complete hip replacement. Fortunately, the surgery was successful.
”I had my surgery at Thanksgiving and I was dancing in my kitchen by New Years Eve and today I put on my long fins and explored the coral reefs propelled by my new hip,” she wrote on her Instagram.
Christie and Taubman’s marriage ended after only one year. They divorced shortly after welcoming their son, Jack Paris Brinkley, born June 2, 1995.
In 1996, Christie reunited with architect Peter Halsey Cook, whom she met while modeling in 1979. After being introduced to each other again, they married at a ranch in Bridgehampton, New York. Christies ex-husband, Billy Joel, was among the guests.
But her union with Peter Cook ended up in a messy divorce and custody battle. In 2006, the couple declared that they were going to separate.
The split ended in a bitter battle in the Long Island courthouse, closely monitored by the TV news and every New York tabloid.
A lot of details emerged. For example, Cook had an affair with a teenager come to light. In 2004, Cook had met a woman named Diana Bianchi in a local toy store when he was buying gifts for his kids. Diana was fresh out of high school, and Cook made a pass at her.
He hired her as an assistant at his firm, and they began a months-long affair. Christie’s husband paid his 18-year-old assistant $300,000 to keep quiet and bought her a lot of expensive gifts.
But her youthful looks aren’t totally natural. Christie has confessed that she’s gotten some help over the years and used non-surgical anti-aging procedures. Some of her cosmetic treatments include the injectable Xeomin, often described as an alternative to Botox.
”I wondered if people would think I’m phony and fake But it’s better to be honest and say, ‘Yeah, this is what I do,” she said.