Brooke Shields has been in the entertainment industry for her entire life. It was never her choice.

In January 2021, Brooke Shields thought she would never walk again.

"When I was on the ground, I feared I would never get up again. After being in the hospital, I started to fear I could never walk again. And then I feared I would never walk without a limp," the actress told People last week.

Three months ago, Shields, 55, was training at a New York City gym when she fell off a balance board, flew up in the air and landed with such force that she broke her right femur.

"It felt like it was all in slow motion. And then I just started screaming. Sounds came out that I've never heard before," she told the publication.

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Shields underwent two surgeries to fix the break. 

After spending two-and-a-half weeks in hospital, Shields contracted a serious staph infection, which required a third emergency surgery and three blood transfusions. 

"At first they feared it might be MRSA [a type of bacteria resistant to antibiotics]," she told the publication. "Thank God it wasn't. If it had been, my doctor said it would have been a race against time. That's how you can become septic. It seemed unthinkable."

When Shields finally made it home, she was told, "Your road is just about to begin."

"I'm the only one that's going to be able to get through this," she told People. "My career has actually been like that as well. One door gets slammed in my face and I search for another."

Brooke Shields has been in the entertainment industry her entire life.

At 11 months old, she starred in an ad for Ivory Soap, and at 12 she landed the lead in Pretty Baby. At 14, she starred in the cult classic film Blue Lagoon and became the youngest face to grace the cover of Vogue magazine. By 16, she was one of the most recognisable faces in America.


Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins in Blue Lagoon. Image: Getty.

While the camera adored her, it wasn't her choice to get into the industry. 

After Shields' parents divorced when she was one, she was raised by her single mother, Teri, who also worked as her manager. Teri looked after Shields' finances and decided which roles she would take. 

It was Teri who decided her daughter would play a child prostitute in Pretty Baby and model for Calvin Klein jeans at 15, saying, "You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing." 

Brooke Shields and Teri Shields. Image: Getty.


"Are you proud of what you did? Well, then f**k 'em," Teri would tell her daughter if she ever heard negative comments about herself or the roles she played.

"Nearly everything I did was for her, in response to her, because of her, or in spite of her," Shields wrote in her 2014 memoir, There was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me. "I was either emulating her or trying to define my independence from her. I was either trying to escape her or crash into her."

Teri was also battling a serious alcohol addiction.

Brooke Shields and Teri Shields. Image: Getty.

"Mum would not stop drinking," Shields wrote in the book. "I could only believe I wasn’t doing enough to make her stop... It took me 30 years to realise that nothing I did could make her stop. She did not want to nor ever stop by herself."

In 1983, Shields put her career on hold to attend Princeton University, where she studied a bachelor's degree in Romance Languages. In her junior year, she fell for future Superman, Dean Cain.


Dean Cain and Brooke Shields. Image: Getty.

 Liam Neeson and Brooke Shields. Image: Getty.

Michael Jackson and Brooke Shields. Image: Getty.


After graduating and ending her relationship with Cain, she dated Liam Neeson and Michael Jackson (they were close for many years), before meeting American tennis player Andre Agassi in 1993. 

"The whole relationship with him was so necessary," Shields wrote in her 2014 memoir. "He gave me my first taste of freedom from my mum. He swept me away. You'd say something and it would happen. There would be a plane or if I said, 'I can't believe I have termites,' within 24 hours, the house would be tented."

The couple married in 1997 but ended it after two years when Agassi admitted to a crystal meth addiction. 

Andre Agassi and Brooke Shields. Image: Getty.


"I was so unbelievably clueless," she wrote in her memoir, about Agassi's addiction. 

"To this day, I think to myself 'My God, Brooke. All you've seen in your life and you couldn't pick this up?' But if you watch these athletes play, they play five, six, seven hours at the highest level and they keep going and going and the regimen surrounding them is so intense that my justification was, I guess you need to blow off steam when you can." 

Following her divorce from Agassi, Shields married television writer Chris Henchy in 2001, after they had met through mutual friends in 1999.

Brooke Shields and Chris Henchy. Image: Getty.

"I couldn’t have even been with my [now] husband had I not been in that relationship with Andre," she told The Guardian in 2017.

After a miscarriage and seven IVF attempts, Shields gave birth to her daughter Rowan Francis Henchy in 2003. Soon after she gave birth, Shields started battling crippling postpartum depression.

"I finally had a healthy, beautiful baby girl and I couldn’t look at her," she said at a Hope for Depression Research Foundation event in 2009, as noted by People. "I couldn’t hold her and I couldn’t sing to her and I couldn’t smile at her. All I wanted to do was disappear and die."


Shields was prescribed medication, though she stopping taking it at one point, thinking she didn’t need them.

"That was the week I almost did not resist driving my car straight into a wall on the side of the freeway. My baby was in the back seat and that even pissed me off because I thought she’s even ruining this for me. I just wanted to drive into the wall and my friend stayed on the phone with me and made me safely get home," she said.

She returned to her doctor for more help and was eventually diagnosed with a chemical imbalance. 

"I learned what was going on inside my body and what was going on inside my brain. I learned I wasn’t doing anything wrong to feel that way. That it was actually out of my control," she said.

Three years later, Shields gave birth to her second daughter, Grier Hammond Henchy, at the age of 40.

Brooke Shields and her daughters. Image: Getty.

After the birth of her two daughters, Shields had hoped her mother's drinking might slow down to be around her grandchildren, but by her 70s, Teri had begun a slow decline into dementia. 

"It was shocking and nothing could have prepared me for it," Shields wrote in her 2014 memoir. "The person literally disappears. They are there in front of you and you can't reach them. And there was absolutely nothing I could do."

Teri died in late 2012, aged 79.


Mostly retired Shields lives in Manhattan with her husband and their two daughters, now 17 and 14. These days (before her gym accident), she focuses on making her daughters' upbringing as normal as possible.

"I think they need to really have as much of a conventional upbringing as you can in New York City, with kids their own age, and not be thrown into something with all the pressure," she told the New York Post in 2017.

Brooke Shields and her daughter Grier Henchy. Image: Getty.

Now that both girls are roughly the same age as Shields was when she became a teen sex symbol, she wants to keep their youth intact.

"I want to put a chastity belt on my girls, I get it," she told The Guardian.

"I’m going psychotic about what I’m dealing with, with men looking at her and looking at her body... I mean, this is my 14-year-old! At the top of the stairs I can see her rolling her skirt up. I’m like, 'Unroll your skirt.' It’s a constant negotiation."

While Shields has never blamed her mum for the questionable roles she accepted as a teenager, she plans to do things differently with her two girls. 

"I would not allow my daughter to be photographed topless. But it was a different time," she wrote in her 2014 memoir.

Feature Image: Getty, Richard Avedon, and Mamamia.

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