This is the photo used on the jacket of the book I recently read by Ms. Shields. I don’t normally read celebrity books. I’ve always been intrigued by her, and back then it was a little creepy as she’s 6 years younger than me. Now its nothing. But I wasn’t the only one. She made Pretty Baby, Wanda Nevada, Blue Lagoon, Endless Love, Brenda Starr, all movies that capitalized on her captivating looks. And its kind of funny because from reading the book, I picked up that she had that typical model way of looking at her own body. I’m sure I can’t explain it right or understand completely, but models often look at themselves objectively. Not the way men do. It is their asset, to be protected and presented. Nothing more, nothing less.
As the title suggests (The Real Story of My Mother and Me), her goal was to analyze her and her mother’s relationship dynamics. That she did, for 394 pages. There was the odd tidbit of celebrity gossip about this or that co-star over the years, and the goings on in Hollywood, but the vast majority of it was an endless recounting of the dark spiral her mother lived in because of alcoholism, and what it did to Brooke. To say that Brooke was screwed up is an understatement. Back then if you thought about it at all, you just assumed her life was all rainbows and unicorns.
It takes 2 people to make an alcoholic: the broken person and the enabler. Teri and Brooke. That was their world. Brooke had a decent relationship with her divorced dad, but it was pretty much her mother her world revolved around. When I finished the book the first thought was what might her life have been like had she had a warm and nurturing mother? And the second thought was why is it so often its the whack job parents that produce these prodigies? Her first husband Andre Agassi had a nut for a dad.
Brooke’s friend Michael Jackson’s parents were famous for their abuse. I’m sure the list goes on and on. For some reason that need for parental approval (and that whip cracking behind them) motivates young people to incredible heights. You got the feeling a little that Brooke thought it was her amazing looks that made her career. I’m not sure she understands there is a multitude of equally beautiful young women, they just don’t live in New York City and have a whack job for a parent. The stars aligned for her at a time when print culture could still control who the next megastar was. (Think David Cassidy, Shaun Cassidy, Brooke, Leif Garrett…)
Another thing that stood out was a little troubling. Jetting here, jetting there, Cannes, the Fiji Islands, making this movie, that movie, rubbing elbows with Bob Hope and other clebrities, 6 homes at one time. She led a lifestyle most of us have no comprehension of. She was able to do this because of the feelings fans had for her and the money they spent. Her fans made it possible. She seems to have zero comprehension of that. Or appreciation.
But after you read one of these you realize the volumes that you weren’t told. Things about school, relationships or jobs that you were given a glossy little picture of, but not the nitty gritty of what it was really like. I guess you get a little jaded when you realize the mission was to sell books, not give you the truth.