Brooke Shields’ mother Teri dies at 79: 'I loved her, laughed with her, and respected her,' says actress

Teri and Brooke Shields. (Getty Images)Before there was Jaid Barrymore or Dina Lohan, the ultimate stage mom in Hollywood was Teri Shields, who got her gorgeous baby daughter Brooke into the business when she was just 11 months old in an Ivory Soap ad for which she was paid $25. On Tuesday, it was announced that Teri had passed a week earlier in Manhattan at the age of 79, following a long illness.

"My mother was an enormous part of my life and of who I am today," Brooke said in a statement. "I loved her, laughed with her, and respected her. And although she had her share of struggles, she was my mom."

Like many momagers, Teri faced backlash when she allowed Brooke, now 47, to take on provocative roles at a young age, beginning with 1978’s “Pretty Baby, in which the 12-year-old portrayed a child prostitute and even had a nude scene. "It's only a role," Brooke said at the time regarding concerns it was child pornography. "I'm not going to grow up and be a prostitute." A year later, Teri’s choices for her daughter were scrutinized yet again when Brooke posed scantily-clad for the infamous Calvin Klein jeans ad campaign and took on another role in 1980’s “Blue Lagoon” that called for nude scenes.

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Defending herself as a mother and a manager in a 1978 interview, Teri – who divorced Brooke’s father Frank soon after she was born – said, "They see total innocence, which is totally there. And they have the sexy child, too, they have the sexy person that appeals to them." When the interviewer suggested it was the “forbidden fruit,” Teri replied, “Yes, and yet it’s all wrapped up in one, and that is really appetizing.”

At 15, Brooke posed with shirt open for a Calvin Klein ad. (Calvin Klein)

But as Brooke grew up, the relationship she shared with her mother fell apart. In her 20s, she took control of her own career, which led to a fallout with Teri. In 1994 interview with The New York Times, the actress revealed, “I grew up in an alcoholic household.” When the newspaper turned to Teri for comment, she retorted, “Brookie doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” A year later, Brooke told Life that although she and her mother still spoke every day, “I have to draw a line or I get pulled back in.”


Despite being pushed into the limelight at such a young age, Brooke never took the path so many other former child stars do. In the mid-'80s, she took a break from modeling and acting and enrolled at Princeton University, where she graduated with a degree in French Literature in 1987. Brooke later revealed that although she was highly sexualized as a child and teen, she did not actually lose her virginity until she was 22.

[Related: Brooke Shields opens up her cozy NYC townhouse]

The ice between Brooke and Teri finally began to thaw though after Brooke got married and had daughters of her own (Rowan, 9, and Grier, 6, with husband, writer Chris Henchy). In 2009, the “Lipstick Jungle” star revealed that she had to make the painful decision to move her mother into an assisted living facility because she was suffering from dementia. In an interview with People, Brooke admitted, "It is one of the most difficult experiences you can go through as a son or daughter.”

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