According to Teri, the company earned about a million dollars last year (industry sources more than double that figure) from services rendered by Brooke. This sum would include the $500,000 she was paid for her starring role in Franco Zeffirelli's Endless Love, her eighth film, and at least $500,000 for eight Calvin Klein jeans commercials; it doesn't include Brooke's percentage of the grosses for Blue Lagoon, the blockbuster 1980 movie that has made $100 million to date, or dozens of top-dollar modeling assignments.
This should be an even more lucrative year. Wella Balsam has signed Brooke to a six-figure contract as its shampoo spokeswoman for the next three years. She recently finished shooting eight more Klein commercials and has traveled twice to Europe to model couture collections. Although Brooke hasn't made a movie this year, Teri reports that three films (one of which Teri intends to produce) are under consideration. Teri will demand $1 million per film--plus, of course, a chunk of the grosses.
Teri says that she sets aside half of what Brooke earns and puts it in trust for her until she turns 21. Teri and Lila draw unspecified salaries from the corporation.
Teri is planning a host of other ventures for the near future: a Brooke head, close to life-size, for little girls to make up and coif; a Brooke poster; a Brooke clothing line; Brooke cosmetics; Brooke cologne; possible Brooke endorsements for orange juice and cameras. "I hope we're going to do some big business with Japan," she says mysteriously. "Something's in the works."
With meek, self-effacing Lila Wisdom (Brooke's godmother) at her side to screen requests, help pay bills and fuss with the small print, Teri Shields is a formidable businesswoman. "Teri knows all the angles," says Irving Fein, producer of Brooke's sixth movie, Just You and Me, Kid. "Not much scares me," says Teri.
Teri relishes combat in the commercial arena. She scoffs at the "big cheeses" in Hollywood, most of whom, she says, "have tried to screw me over." "She loves it that she can really stick it to those people," says a friend who has done business with her.
But Teri's ambition far exceeds her appetite for wheeling and dealing. One has only to hear her talk about her "library" of Brookiana (photos and clippings by the thousands), or about the Brooke biography she wants Roots author Alex Haley to write when Brooke is 21 (Haley is interested), to realize that Teri considers her daughter as much icon as income. "She belongs in the Louvre," she once proclaimed. To Teri, "Brookie is the most beautiful girl in the world, the best"--and she wants the world to know it.
The Brooke and Teri Show. Brooke is standing at one end of a cavernous Manhattan studio, filming a 30-second spot to be shown in movie theaters for the Will Rogers Memorial Fund--a sensible speech cautioning teenagers to "think before you drink."
Even in a pair of jeans and a simple blouse, she's astonishing--"exhausting to look at," says one acquaintance, only half-joking. Every feature is flawless: the finely sculptured nose and cheekbones, thick eyebrows, full lips, flowing cinnamon hair, skin smooth as white chocolate. She is luminous, aglow. Her manner--a kind of wide-eyed earnestness that's rarely revealed in her sultry fashion photographs--adds to the appeal. Delivering the solemn speech in her high fluty voice, she sounds like a little girl called upon to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at a school assembly.
At the other end of the studio, back by the coffee and Danish table, sits Teri Shields. Comfortably slumped in her chair, shirttail hanging out, feet planted far apart on the floor, Teri is to Brooke as a scruffy tabby cat is to a Persian. Teri's streaked hair is limp, in need of a washing. With her own fine features and agreeable crow's-feet at the corners of her eyes, Teri is a handsome woman, but she says she has gotten "fat and lazy" since she stopped drinking two years ago. Sometimes, after she's been "pigging out," as she puts it, she seems oblivious to the crumbs dotting her chest. (On the rare occasions when Brooke spills a fleck of food on her shirtfront, she looks at it with panic, as if small furry beast were making its way up her body.)
Through the thicket of mikes, cords and crew members, Teri somehow keeps her eyes fixed on Brooke. Soon it's clear why: mother and daughter are quietly communicating. Sometimes it's a small gesture--Teri holds up a cup of coffee and Brooke shakes her head no. Sometimes Teri speaks to Brooke between takes in a soft voice that's hard to hear only a few feet away. "Smile at the end, Brookie. Be happy." Brooke hears her, as loud and clear as if Teri had just bellowed the words from a bullhorn, and nods; for the final takes she adds a fetching smile. "Beautiful," murmurs Teri. When the shooting is finished, Teri brings her daughter the coffee cup; Brooke takes a sip, then slides her arm around her mother's ample waist and holds the cup to Teri's lips.
Mother and daughter share a remarkable sensitivity to each other, a kind of high-frequency charge that passes between them like static. Neston Almendros, cinematographer for The Blue Lagoon, describes their bond with the French word connivence, meaning, he explains, a sense of "things that only they know," a "complicity." Brooke can stand surrounded by a slew of admirers at a party, and all it takes is one modest nod from Teri and she knows it's time to go. Or, during interviews, Teri can pat her chest lightly and Brooke knows to say, "I do things from my heart." When an interviewer asks Brooke to name her favorite actress (a question that often stumps her because she changes her mind so often), Teri will mouth "Jacqueline" and Brooke will say "Jacqueline Bisset."
Teri's patrol is unrelenting, all-inclusive: she keeps Brooke on a strict 10 p.m. curfew, bristles when Brooke swears. "When Brooke does something that's rude or thoughtless," Teri says, "I suffer with it the whole day." Brooke affords Teri few opportunities for such martyrdom. "Thank you!" she says prettily to every autograph-seeker who interrupts a restaurant meal or accosts her on a street corner. Only sometimes does the smile look strained, like a Miss America contestant well into the second hour of the pageant. "Don't act spoiled," says Teri when Brooke forgets a politeness. "You're goofing off." When Brooke "abused" her phone privileges, Teri ripped her phone off the wall and stuffed it down the apartment incinerator.
Most Important, Teri stands sentry over Brooke's image, a one-woman quality control center. Not only does she choose Brooke's movie scripts, but increasingly, she selects the photographers who take her daughter's picture and insists on stiff prohibitions to prevent them from reselling their work to publications she does not approve of. She is finicky about choosing hair and makeup stylists. The Wella Balsam ads, she grouses, "didn't use Brooke right," and for the next ones she will demand a whole new production team. And she watches to see that Brooke herself doesn't unwittingly tarnish the image. "We went up to his hotel room and watched the game on television," Brooke says of a recent date with actor Timothy Hutton. "Hotel suite," says Teri. "It's better to say hotel suite." Hotel suite," Brooke repeats gravely.
The press has taken Teri Shields to task for many matters, not least of which is this formidable "hold" over her daughter. "They make fun of it," says Teri. "They say I've got her programmed. But I know what she loves, I know who her favorite actors and actresses are. It's fabulous that she trusts me enough to help her when she's on the spot."
Brooke's prompter and promoter is also her biggest fan, smitten as any teenybopper. "Bless her, she's so beautiful," Teri mutters while watching her daughter model. "Brookie, your hands are perfect. Where did you get such perfect hands?" Or, gazing at Brooke outfitted in a leotard, "Great legs ... great legs." When space doesn't permit them to walk side by side down a hallway, Teri walks deferentially behind her daughter ("Why do you always do that?' Brooke hissed recently as she led her mother down a corridor). Teri compares her daughter's "innocence and sexiness" to Vivien Leigh's, her comic timing to Irene Dunne's. She thinks Brooke would be "perfect" to play Camille.
"It's abnormal," concedes Teri of her obsession with her daughter. "Sometimes I think I should have spent more time on myself. But I'm like a pig in mud. I'm a size 16 on the bottom and 14 on top. I'm content." And then, to an accusing ghost, "I didn't force her to make us happy."
Adds Frank Shields, Teri's ex-husband and Brooke's father, "Brooke is probably the first thing she's had in her life that's tangible."
Of self-described "English-German-Scotch-Irish-Welsh-gypsy" stock, by way of Newark, N.J., Teresa Ann Schmon was one of three children born to a Celanese chemist and a mother who cleaned the homes of prosperous Newark families. "We lived in rented rooms," says Teri. "You know, places that had bathrooms on the porch. We were really poor." As a little girl, Teri sold paper flowers outside a funeral home and cleaned houses herself to earn pin money for Saturday movie matinees.
After graduating from high school Teri moved to Manhattan. She sold cosmetics at Bloomingdale's and Lord & Taylor's (where she met Lila Wisdom, her future roommate and businesspartner). She also held odd jobs on Seventh Avenue, modeling from time to time when an extra mannequin was needed.
When she was 30 Teri met Frank Shields, the 23-year-old son of '40s tennis star Francis X. Shields. Frank was six foot seven, broad-shouldered and dazzling to look at--Teri still rolls her eyes appreciatively when she reminisces about their first meeting. They married, and Brooke was born three months later. But the marriage soon soured; they divorced before the year was out "He said I loved him too much," says Teri.
(Shields is now vice-president of a New York head-hunting firm and has been married for 11 years to Diana Auchincloss. He heaps praise on Teri for her "street smarts" and on Brooke--"the kid," as he calls her for her sense of humor, study habits and "peer group relations," but tends to finish sentences about her with a wispy 'What can I say..." as though he discovered yesterday that he is Brooke's father and is still baffled by it. He often speaks to her on the phone, but these days sees her infrequently.)
For a stretch of several months while Brooke was an infant, Teri feared that her daughter would fall prey to crib death, so she slept with the baby strapped to her chest with a diaper. She bought Brooke a steady stream of toys, took her to museums, to "every play on Broadway." She gave her piano lessons and ballet lessons and riding lessons.
The two took plenty of vacations too--Disney World, Mexico, a cross-country train trip, a cruise on the S.S. Rotterdam. In Manhattan they took only taxis--Teri wouldn't subject her daughter to buses and subways. This may account for Brooke's inability to this day to navigate the streets of New York. "She can't walk around the block without getting lost," says Teri almost proudly.
Everywhere she went, Brooke was dressed beautifully, turned out as prettily as a party cake in clothes that Teri found in bargain scavengings. "I loved dressing her," says Teri. "She was my dolly."
And all the while, Brooke modeled; then as now, that was what mostly paid the bills. First at 11 months, for Ivory Soap; then for Simplicity Patterns, Breck shampoo, Carter's pajamas, Colgate, Band-Aids, Sears, J.C. Penney.... Teri gives the impression that the two of them stumbled into the business and that Brooke worked only spottily. In fact, at seven, Brooke was modeling for Alexander's department store several days a week after school and slogging through countless photo sessions for clothing catalogs. (Teri has filed a suit on Brooke's behalf to prohibit a Manhattan photographer from selling photographs he took-- Teri's approval-of 10-year-old Brooke naked, gleaming with baby oil-photos that appeared in a Playboy Press book titled "Sugar and Spice.")
By the time Brooke was eight, Teri already had flown her out to Hollywood for her first audition. Two years later, she read a casting notice for a small role in a low-budget horror movie and took her daughter's portfolio to Alfred Sole, the young man who was to direct the film. As Sole perused the photographs--many of them "little sex kitten" shots, he says, of Brooke in fur coats, her face masked in makeup--Teri "was grinning like a Cheshire cat--she knew she had something good." Brooke got the part.
People who worked with Teri and Brooke in those early years remember Brooke as a tractable, happy child model. Says photographer Francesco Scavullo, "Brooke would be laughing and having a good time. Teri always made it fun." "It was so easy," says Brooke now. "It was always a game."
In 1977, when Brooke was 11 years old, director Louis Malle cast her as Violet, the child prostitute in Pretty Baby. The controversial, critically acclaimed film made Brooke a star and Teri a villain. As Brooke came increasingly into the public eye, bringing her mother-manager with her, word surfaced that Teri Shields was an alcoholic, and an ugly one at that. During shooting in New Orleans, Teri got furious with Brooke on Brooke's birthday and punched her in the face. There were other incidents as well--Teri kicking in the screen of a television set in a rage, Teri bringing men she had met in bars back to her and Brooke's apartment.
Finally, she was arrested for drunken driving and put in jail. Polly Platt, the film's scriptwriter, refused to bail her out, explaining to Brooke that Teri was better off behind bars, where she would dry out. Brooke took the news with steely control: "She accepted it," says one observer. "There was no release, no anger. She nodded." Lila, who had been working in Arizona for several years, flew to New Orleans to look after Brooke (A year later, she took up permanent residence with Brooke and Teri in Manhattan.) Two years ago Brooke issued her mother an ultimatum: Teri would stop drinking or Brooke would move in with her father. Teri entered a seven-week hospital alcoholism treatment program and has stayed sober since.
"I was a total paranoid," says Brooke. "I'm relaxed now, I'm much happier." She pauses and cocks her head the way she does when she's uneasy. "It wasn't that I was unhappy, but now my life can be"--she searches for a suitably sunny word--"perfected."
Scene 1. Brooke is just completing a long afternoon's shooting at Calvin Klein's sleek Seventh Avenue offices. For the session, Brooke has worn a Klein ensemble that includes a pair of caramel-colored suede pants. The shoot over, Teri rolls up the pants and squirrels them in a tote bag. "Calvin won't mind," she tells her daughter. "He knows whenever he puts anything on your back he's never going to see it again.".
Teri sits at Calvin's desk and writes him a brief, bubbly note. Then she tells her daughter to add her own message at the bottom.
"What should I say?" asks Brooke.
"Say, 'Love and kisses, Brookie--and I love my new pants."'
Brooke broods a moment, pen poised above the paper. "What about, 'Love and kisses, Brookie--and I love my new clothes'?" She is hoping to sidestep a flat-out confession.
"No, I'm not leaving here until you tell him," says Teri."Why can't you do things normally ?" Brooke does as she is told.
The next day someone from Klein's staff calls Teri. They have been searching frantically for the pants--they're a sample pair and are needed right away. Teri tells Brooke to call Calvin and smooth things over. Brooke balks again. "After all I've done for you," Teri says, "why can't you do this one thing for me?" Brooke calls Calvin, the pants are returned, all is forgiven ....
Scene 2. Lila has brought Teri a present, a new headband.
"That's pretty, where did you get it? " Brooke asks her mother.
Teri puts on her high baby voice. "My girlfriend gave it to me."
"Can I see it?"
"No, you always want to steal my things."
"Isn't it pretty?" Teri strokes the headband against her cheek. "Isn't it the prettiest headband you ever saw? And you can't touch it."
"You always do that to me. Especially when you know I like it!" Teri smiles and puts the headband back in her hair.
Brooke and Teri have been sparring for as long as most of their acquaintances can remember, the flare-ups, punctuated by slamming doors (Teri) and venomous glances (Brooke), are usually short-lived. But there's an edge to them now, a sense that while Teri still wins most of their contests, Brooke is becoming a more willful, sturdier adversary. "You always take credit for everything," she says irritably once after Teri waxes self-congratulatory. Teri has confided to acquaintances that Brooke is growing "difficult." She likes Brooke young.
"Are you a baby?" she asks playfully when her drowsy daughter curls up in a ball during a car ride. "I'm not anyone's baby," snaps Brooke.
She is still more girl than grown-up, and often seems as helpless as a small child--"Mommy, should I read my book now?" "Mommy, what should I order?" But at l6 going on 17, she is beginning to forge an identity of her own. Her conversation these days runs not to movies or show biz but to tests, grades and the college of her choice (Princeton)--the A she got on this test, the B++ she got on that quiz ('Why couldn't he have just made it an A minus?" she moans). "She drove me crazy," says a member of the production staff of Endless Love. "If we had a five-minute break, she'd ask if she could leave the stage and do her homework. She knew better than to ask." Brooke's lawyer, Peter Thall, marvels at his client's single-mindedness: he can be chatting in his office with Teri and Lila, and Brooke will sit smack in the middle of the room, deaf to the conversation, engrossed in a diagram of a frog.
Brooke's academic conscientiousness reflects her orderliness in all things. She is more than punctual, packing for trips days in advance; she habitually tugs at her taut jeans to smooth out imaginary wrinkles; the books in her schoolbag are arranged like soldiers on parade. "I was always, always conscious of having everything perfect," she says. "Even when I was a little kid, I used to empty out all my closets just so I could refold the clothes. I'm just much happier that way. But I get too obsessed."
"I don't even like to be around her when she's got an exam," says Lila. Teri says Brooke is going to be the youngest person in the world to have a heart attack. "I ache for how hard she is on herself," she says.
Some wonder whether Brooke's preoccupation with schoolwork isn't a way of insulating herself, of keeping the public Brooke Shields at bay. "The girl has been so exposed that she's scared of losing her identity as a human being," suggests Zeffirelli. "She tries desperately to cling to it. Proclaiming that she is a student is one way of defending this average dream."
Much of Brooke is average. She really does love chocolate chip ice cream, cheerleading, homecoming games, her horses, and boys are fun but "such a hassle!" Each week brings a new crush; the current constellation includes a Harvard football player, a Harvard Lampoon editor ("I could marry him tomorrow and be happy forever"), a top young equestrian. Last summer's hugely publicized romance with John Travolta (masterminded by Teri) has cooled.
But with dates like Travolta--and a mother like Teri--the average dream is hard to come by. Besides, Brooke is not without a good measure of her mother's gritty ambition--though Brooke's is subterranean, unlike Teri's nonstop geyser. She gets peeved by poor photographs of herself, pouts when one she doesn't like gets published--or when one she likes doesn't ("Mommy," Teri remembers Brooke demanding a few years ago, "why didn't you get Seventeen for me?")
Teri, of course, doesn't discourage Brooke's ambitions. But she very much wants to maintain control over the flight of the Brooke Shields meteor. Occasionally she brings Brooke along to business meetings "so she can see what I'm doing for her," but otherwise Brooke is kept pretty much in the dark about her extraordinary earning power. A few months ago, recounts Teri, "a multimillionaire" invited the two of them onto his yacht. Teri told Brooke that it was a very expensive yacht, one that probably cost about $10 million. Later that day Brooke called her father from the yacht "Daddy, we're on this really beautiful ship--Mommy says it cost ten thousand dollars." To Brooke, $10,000 was an unthinkably huge sum. On more than one occasion Brooke Shields has earned $10,000 for a day's modeling work.
Teri often seems pleased by her daughter's naiveté, financial and otherwise. When Brooke is asked if she knows how to drive a car, she meekly replies, "I'm not allowed to." Explains Teri: "I told her, 'Don't you dare even talk to me about cars until you're eighteen!"' Teri still dresses Brooke, prowling for bargains at Alexander's and at thrift shops. "She sits back and lets it be done for her," says Teri. (Brooke's favorite pair of boots were found in a thrift shop for $6.50.)
For the next few years at least, Brooke's career is in Teri's hands. And that may be a mistake. Even as the Brooke phenomenon surges into the '80s, some feel that Teri is getting out of her league. There is, for example, the image dilemma.
Earlier this year, well before one of Brooke's scheduled appearances on the Johnny Carson show, Teri decided that what Johnny needed from Brooke was comic relief--a pratfall, to be exact. "I told Brookie, 'Johnny likes you, but you're not a little girl anymore. You have to show him something more, you have to keep him interested.' We practiced it with a pillow for weeks, but almost to the wire she kept saying, 'I can't,I can't.' I said, 'Brookie, you're going to kick yourself in the ass forever if you don't do it."',
So Brooke did it. She loped on stage, elegant as a thoroughbred, and thump, tripped over a corner of the platform holding Johnny's desk. The studio audience gasped and Carson jumped to her aid, but before he had a chance to help, Brooke had righted herself, sailed to the guest chair and announced that she'd done it on purpose, as a joke. "I did it for you," she said to Johnny, running her tongue across her upper lip. Carson was confused, along with his television audience: Was it a spill, was it Chevy Chase, what was it?
"It was the best thing she's pulled off," says Teri. In fact, it was a miscalculation, a misreading. The child famous for her precocious sexuality, who is finally old enough to behave in the womanly way she has teased us with for years, is staging goofy kid's tricks for Johnny Carson.
Some in the fashion and film industries believe that overexposure may imperil Brooke's career, but Teri disagrees: "Brooke is unique. They eat her up. They live to have a part of her." In Hollywood Teri is known and, for the most part, respected as a stiff negotiator. "She's tough and smart," says one producer, "but she can't effectively handle all facets of Brooke's career. She has to trust someone. The difference between Farrah Fawcett and Elizabeth Taylor is good parts, good scripts, a good director. And that takes expert advice."
Perhaps Teri's most glaring error is her failure to help Brooke hone her acting skills. Brooke says she's too busy to take acting lessons, but that she thinks she's becoming a better actress with each film. (Her proof: while shooting a sad scene for Endless Love, she was "really depressed" in real life too.) Teri says that Brooke "follows directions well--she'll do exactly what you want." Critics have been less generous about Brooke's performances. Franco Zeffirelli, who is effusively fond of his young star, says that Brooke "has to study acting, has to shape herself up" if she is to grow into a credible adult actress.
Teri isn't hearing any of it. "Now that Brooke's becoming a woman," she says, "people are programming her. A couple of jerks in Hollywood are telling her to forget me."
Brooke has dutifully reported each such suggestion to her mother. "I just smile and walk away and know they're really stupid," says Brooke. "I play it really Hollywood. I tell them I'll have lunch with them and then I don't.' Reports Teri, "Brooke says that the dumbest thing for anyone to say to her is, 'Don't tell your mother."'
The House That Brooke Built.
Teri: "Brooke always dreamed of living in a house; she had this picture of me in the kitchen and her upstairs, and me going to the stairs and calling, 'Come on down, it's time for dinner!' You know, real cozy."
A year and a half ago, Teri purchased--for $485,000, making it very much the house that Brooke built--an imposing, 15-room Tudor home on a shady residential street in New Jersey. The moment Brooke saw it she wanted to move in, but it has taken Teri months to install the $12,000 alarm system to protect her daughter and to start a sweeping overhaul of what had been its dark, claustral interior. For now, Teri, Brooke and Lila spend only a few evenings a week at the house; the rest of the time they stay in the two-bedroom apartment in New York that Teri has rented since Brooke was born.
During a recent impromptu tour of the house Teri seems almost bashful, uneasy playing lady of the manor. She guides her visitor from one room to the next, standing silently until asked a question about a new sofa or slipcover. (Once asked, however, she is not at all shy about quoting prices- $4,000 for this scalloped sink, $2,000 to refinish that antique medicine cabinet.)
The bright-colored rooms are all in various states of disarray; aside from the kitchen, Brooke's is the only one that is near completion. Airy, sunny, it contains a four-poster bed with bright green sheets, an antique rolltop desk and a recaned rocker. Teri is having a floral-patterned rug made for the room. "It's going to cost $8,000," says Teri. "She'd kill me if she knew." Brooke's bathroom has yellow velour towels, each monogrammed with a scripted "Brooke." Teri opens a drawer beneath the sink and runs her hand along the boxes of soap and makeup that Brooke has fastidiously arranged. "This is the way she is about everything," says Teri, smiling. "So neat"
Teri herself is temporarily, sleeping in a gloomy, unrenovated guest bedroom that holds only packing boxes and one twin bed. Lying on the bed, its head resting on a pillow, is an old doll of Brooke's named Blabby. Scruffy and balding, Blabby has seen better days. Brooke lost interest in the baby doll long ago, but not so Teri, who changes its outfits regularly, often dressing it in old clothes of Brooke's. The matching raspberry Shorts and T-shirt that Blabby wears today are the one dash of color in the room.
"I don't mind it in here," Teri says. "I wanted to get Brookie settled first." She pauses. "She's worked so hard for college. I want her to experience the dorm life, the girls, everything that college is--not that I missed it" Another pause. "I'm thrilled that she'll go to school here in the East, that I'm not going to lose her. That's probably--a terrible thing to say. But I love her, I love her like crazy."