Christie Brinkley: Her Complicated Love Life Revealed


Christie Brinkley took the modeling world by storm with her striking looks and bubbly personality. From a young age she was courted by numerous men, but many of them failed in giving Christie the fairytale ending she hoped for.

Shining Star

Being the adopted daughter of TV producer and writer Don Brinkley, Christie was destined for stardom from a young age. Not only was she already involved in the glamour of the media industry, but Christie also had her own ambitions to work for a career in the arts.

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Shining Star

Bonjour Brinkley

After Christie graduated high school, she decided to pick up and move from her home in California to go down a new path. At 18, she moved to Paris, France in order to enroll in art school and pursue her dreams of becoming an artist. Christie worked as an apprentice illustrator for the next three years in Paris, admiring and studying under some notable names and creating stunning pieces. However, her career in artistry was cut short.

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Bonjour Brinkley

Surprise Scouting

In 1973, in Paris, Christie was out in a post office when American photographer Errol Sawyer randomly spotted her and scouted her for modeling. He took her test shoot pictures and and introduced her to John Casablancas of the Elite Model Managment agency in Paris. Despite high-profile model agents being mesmerized by Brinkley’s looks, she wasn’t convinced that she had that model look. She said “I was basically a surfer girl from California. I never looked like a model.”

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Surprise Scouting

Model Mania

Christie’s meeting with Elite Model Management quickly thrust her into a new world. The aspiring artist then met with top fashion photographers including Patrick Demarchelier and Mike Reinhardt who were stunned by her striking looks and immediately called Eileen Ford of Ford Models and told her of their discovery. At the prospect of a new career path, Christie returned to California and had a meeting with Eileen Ford’s affiliate Nina Blanchard, who then booked the young woman for three national ad campaigns.

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Model Mania

Young Lovers

1973 was quite the eventful year for Christie, as not only was she scouted by top model agents, but she also fell madly in love. While in Paris, Christie met Jean-Francois Allaux, a French artist, and the two began dating. After just a few months, the two decided to tie the knot. Brinkley was just 19-years-old at the time of her wedding and her husband stayed by her side through her rise to fame in modeling. Despite their long marriage, there were very few photos of them together.

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Young Lovers

Bikini Babe

Christie’s big break came in 1979 when she appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in the Swimsuit Issue. Not only would this job propel the budding model to new heights, but it also made wavelengths within the Sports Illustrated company. Christie’s first cover was so successful that she was asked to be the cover star for the next consecutive two years. From this, she became the first model who had landed the cover three years in a row.

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Bikini Babe

Trouble In Paradise

Christie’s career was booming but unfortunately, the same could not be said for her marriage. Being married to Jean-Francois Allaux from such a young age was taking its toll on Brinkley and the two divorced in 1981. The young couple’s marriage was kept quiet and there was not much information about it. The only thing that people did know was that it did not produce any children.

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Trouble In Paradise

Rich Rebound

Soon after her separation, Christie began a relationship with Olivier Chandon de Brailles, the air to the Moët-Chandon Champagne fortune. The two met in New York City at a Studio 54 party, promoting Christie’s new calendar. Olivier told the press that he loved his girlfriend’s beauty but “her simplicity is very important to me,” to which Brinkley interjected “He doesn’t mean simpleminded!”

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Rich Rebound

Speedy Success

By 1982, Christie had established herself as one of the best models in the business. After just seven years in the modeling industry, she already had 150 magazine covers under her belt. It was said that the models’ annual income had leaped to around $350,000 a year and having worked for fashion powerhouses including Chanel, she was showing no signs of slowing down. Moreover, Brinkley signed a contract with cosmetics brand Covergirl for a whopping 25-years, something that was unheard of at the time.

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Speedy Success

Model To Movies

In 1983, Brinkley was given an opportunity which temporarily saw her switch from modeling to acting. Her first role was in National Lampoon’s Vacation where she played a beautiful woman who was driving around in a red Ferrari. Despite the role being far from demanding, it became a famous scene within the movie and Brinkley reprised it in the 1997 sequel Vegas Vacation. Instead of sticking with acting, Christie went back to modeling where she was most comfortable.

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Model To Movies

Caribbean Courtship

In 1982, Brinkley was on vacation in the Caribbean with fellow supermodel Elle Macpherson and an unknown Whitney Houston when they watched Billy Joel playing the piano. Brinkley may have only had eyes for the legendary singer but the direct eye contact was not reciprocated. Joel was interested in both Brinkley and Macpherson and said “I kind of felt like a teenager all over again”, he said regarding the models. It wasn’t until they returned home that their relationship grew.

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Caribbean Courtship

Uptown Girl

In the same year that they met, Christie was asked to star in Billy Joel’s music video for “Uptown Girl.” The two grew increasingly close on the set and began dating. Despite Christie starring in the music video, there were rumors flying around that the song was actually penned for Elle Macpherson. Christie shut down the gossip by stating that if it was written about the supermodel, then wouldn’t she have been the one in the video?

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Uptown Girl

Becoming Mrs. Billy Joel

Christie and Billy’s relationship blossomed and the two decided to take the plunge and get married. The rock star marrying the supermodel appeared to be the perfect match and the two were married in 1985 on a yacht in the Hudson River. The beautiful, intimate ceremony was attended by 175 of their family and friends. On the back of their marriage, Billy dedicated the album “An Innocent Man” to his new bride, but the title of the album would be somewhat of an insight into their future.

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Becoming Mrs. Billy Joel

Baby Number One

The same year of their wedding, Billy and Christie welcomed their first child together, a daughter named Alexa Ray Joel. Alexa was the apple of her father’s eye and he wrote the song “Goodnight, My Angel” for her. Alexa admitted that this special song is her favorite of her famous fathers. Alexa was Billy and Christie’s only child and she seemed to inherit the best qualities of both of her parents. Her striking looks and exceptional musical abilities made her destined for stardom.

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Baby Number One

Struggles From The Start

Billy Joel’s battle with alcoholism and depression was underway when he married Christie in 1985, but the model had turned a blind eye to it in the hope that he would change his ways now that he had a family. Joel’s issues had begun when his first marriage to Elizabeth Weber had broken down. However, the rock star and Brinkley eventually separated.

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Struggles From The Start

Christie Doll

Being married to Billy Joel seemed to boost Christie’s career, making her one of the most sought after faces in entertainment. The extensive coverage of the model resulted in her being one of three chosen models to have their own doll produced. Matchbox Toys released ‘The Real Model Collection’ in 1989, which comprised plastic doll replicas of Christie, Cheryl Tiegs and Beverly Johnson. The dolls were sold in stores around the country and led many young girls to look up to the models.

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Christie Doll

Christie The Co-host

Christie’s numerous TV appearances on daytime shows in the late 80’s led producers desperate for the in demand model to sign a binding contract for a show. Finally, in 1992, Christie began her own TV series titled Living in the 90’s- With Christie Brinkley. The show was broadcast on CNN as a daily 30-minute show, using the model as a host between segments of various filmed pieces. Christie was dissatisfied with the lack of substance in the show and bailed after a short time.

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Christie The Co-host

Shift of Stars

In the 90’s, the majority of Christie’s roles came in the form of short appearances on TV as she was not getting enough coverage in the modeling world. Around this time, there was a shift in the industry of what was in demand and seen as the most beautiful. Ethnic diversity was in and the leading fashion houses wanted to cast models of different races in their magazines. The demand of Christie’s all-American charm was beginning to diminish.

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Shift of Stars

Marriage Woes

Not only was Christie struggling with the changes within her career, but her home life had taken it’s toll. Billy Joel was trying to make up for his struggles by constantly touring but his absence was causing a rift in his marriage. In 1993, Christie was informed that her husband had booked a hotel after his concert, rather than going home to her. Furthermore, Billy’s band member claimed that the married rock star was unfaithful. Billy denied the accusations.

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Marriage Woes

Second Split

In 1994, the marriage became too problematic and Christie and Billy announced their divorce. Despite the drama between the the exes, Christie insisted they had taken the high road when it came to divorce proceedings. She said that they “had Alexa together and we knew that was going to bind us together for life so we wanted to make our divorce work.” The two have since remained friends and never said a bad word about one another.

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Second Split

Brinkley’s Back

Christie had previously shown she could move on quickly and when her nine-year marriage came to an end, she decided to do just that. Before her divorce had been finalized, Christie began dating real estate developer Richard Taubman after they were introduced by friends. Their whirlwind romance resulted in an engagement just a couple of months later. However, their high was brought down when the two were in a helicopter crash in Colorado but both escaped without major injuries.

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Brinkley’s Back

Husband Number Three

The new couple’s near death experience showed them how short life was and allowed them to realize how much they loved each other and decided to get married right away. In December 1994, Brinkley and Taubman were married in Telluride, Colorado, just a stone’s throw away from the location of the helicopter crash. At their wedding, attended by close friends and family, the newlyweds shocked guests by announcing that they were expecting their first child together. This would be Christie’s second child.

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Husband Number Three

Bittersweet Baby

In 1995, Christie and Richard welcomed their son Jack Paris Taubman but unfortunately, a baby wasn’t enough to save their marriage as it completely broke down. When their son was two months old, Brinkley and Taubman called it quits after seven months of marriage. Apparently, their marriage had soured long before they split but attempted to give it another shot for the sake of their baby. In their divorce settlement, Taubman reportedly forfeited his visitation rights with Jack.

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Bittersweet Baby

Blast From The Past

Soon after Brinkley’s divorce from her third husband, she crossed paths again with Peter Cook. Brinkley first met Cook in 1979 when they were both in the modeling industry but they were both in other relationships. Christie and now-architect Cook were reintroduced by NBC personality Jill Rappaport. The duo seemed to pick up where they left off and fell madly in love with each other. They embarked on a relationship together and became engaged in August 1996.

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Blast From The Past

Fourth Time Lucky?

Cook and Brinkley’s engagement went by in a flash and they decided to marry a month later. In September, 1996 the couple were married at a ranch in Bridgehampton, New York. Brinkley was five years older than Cook and their wedding was attended by 120 guests, including ex-husband Billy Joel. She said of marrying Cook, “I finally have what I always wanted  –  a husband who is so involved in the family, who cares about it with every ounce of his being, who is there for us.”

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Fourth Time Lucky?

Still Got It

Although Christie wasn’t booking nearly as many modeling jobs as she used to, her status in the industry had not been forgotten. In 1998, Christie landed a sought after place on a number of lists including “Top 10 Supermodels Of All Time”, as well as being noted by Playboy as an icon in her day. Christie’s career had not dried up, she had just shifted her priorities, looking after her children and being a wife to her fourth husband.

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Still Got It

Extending The Family

Christie became pregnant with her third child and gave birth in 1998 to a girl named Sailor Lee Brinkley Cook. Their family unit appeared so strong that Cook decided to adopted Brinkley’s son, Jack, who she had with former husband Richard Taubman. The adoption took place when Jack was four years old and Christie was finally feeling like everything was in place and she had found her happiness. Christie never expected to have her family broken up by Cook and his actions left her blindsided.

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Extending The Family

The Worst News

In June, 2006, Christie was giving a speech on global warming at the local high school and upon finishing, a policeman approached her. He said “That husband of yours won’t knock it off,” Christie didn’t understand at first and then the policeman bluntly stated, “He’s having an affair with my teenage daughter.” Christie said about hearing the news that she looked over at her husband who was shaking his head in denial and at that moment, she knew it was all true.

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The Worst News

It All Comes Out

Christie filed for divorce and the bitter battle in court saw all the sordid details of the affair come out. Cook’s affair with teenager Diana Bianchi lasted over a year and throughout this time, he paid her $300,000 to keep quiet as well as showering her with numerous expensive gifts. The affair started after Peter hired Bianchi for his Hamptons architectural firm. Despite Cook being in the wrong, lawyers tried to claim the four-time married model was to blame for forcing him to stray.

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It All Comes Out

Settlement

Christie’s eldest daughter Alexa testified in the case and told the jury how her step father would constantly criticize both her and mother, using physical force. The couple had an iron clad prenup put in place but they settled with Christie giving Cook $2.1 million in exchange for sole custody of their children and the retention of 18 disputed properties in the Hamptons. The rest of the details of the divorce were kept private but it was finalized after a long battle in October, 2008.

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Settlement

Mini Billy

On the back of her mother going through a bitter divorce battle, Alexa Ray Joel stepped out into the limelight to launch her own career. She released her EP in 2006 followed by a number of singles on independent record labels. Alexa also teamed up with father Billy to perform at numerous benefits in 2008 and also at a Barack Obama fundraiser. Critics were impressed with Alexa’s musical genre and the depth in her music which they thought was about a “bad breakup.”

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Mini Billy

Pill Problems

December, 2009 saw Alexa’s life go down a path that was reminiscent of her father’s. Alexa was taken to hospital after taking “several pills” but after assessment, a toxicologist confirmed that the drug had “no active ingredient.” The young singer later admitted “I wasn’t trying to kill myself. I was panicked. I was not thinking clearly at all. I was in so much pain and I just wanted to numb it. The intent was to calm me down because I was having a panic attack.”

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Pill Problems

Christie’s Comeback

In 2012, Christie finally made a comeback that revived her career of which she had taken a hiatus from due to personal issues. Christie had finally put her bad relationships behind her and focused on her career. Brinkley was offered a guest role on sitcom Parks and Recreation, playing the wife of Jerry Gergich, played by Jim O’Heir. Christie’s performance on the show was a hit and she was invited back to star in a couple more episodes of the popular sitcom.

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Christie’s Comeback

Broadway Calling

Following her role on Parks and Recreation, Christie went back onto Broadway, reprising her role of Roxie Hart in the hit musical Chicago. Brinkley performed in the show for several weeks in April 2012. Christie recalled that the show gave her opportunities she never dreamed of having. She said  “One of the highlights of my life was looking out there, taking a bow, and seeing my parents looking up with their eyes glistening and being so proud of me.”

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Broadway Calling

Christie’s Farewell

After a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, Don Brinkley passed away in July 2012. Christie was devastated at the passing of her father, they were incredibly close and he supported her the whole way through her career. Christie said that her father was the one who encouraged her to venture out of modeling and show off her singing and dancing skills on Broadway. Don was able to hang on long enough to see his daughter perform before his illness got the better of him.

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Christie’s Farewell

Supermodel Support

Being in the public eye, Christie’s bitter divorce to Peter Cook was highly publicized. Christie admitted that other women had reached out to her going through similar situations. She gave links to support websites where women could share their experiences and said “My inbox is full of letters from women like me who were married to a narcissist.” She continued, “You are not alone, you are not crazy, and someday you will start to whisper thank you to the darkness.”

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Supermodel Support

Animal Advocacy

Christie has been a vegetarian since she was 13-years-old and has often spoken out about the unethical treatment of animals, specifically against imprisoned animals in circuses which are captured and beaten. She has worked with animal rights organisation PETA and her passion led her to convince her whole family to go vegetarian too. In 2013, she won the Pet Hero Award-Humanitarian of the Year from the Pet Philanthropy Circle for her advocacy for animals, the environment and wildlife.

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Animal Advocacy

Finding Love Again

Christie took a long time out of the dating scene to focus on herself and her family but in 2015, she found herself falling again. When Brinkley first met singer John Mellencamp, she almost immediately assumed they were total opposites and wouldn’t work. However, after getting to know him, she said “But then we talked and realized that we do have a lot of shared interests.” The two were able to bond over their children, adding that it was nice to date someone her age.

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Finding Love Again

Not The Fairytale

Christie looked to have met her match in John but unfortunately, the couple called it quits after a year of dating. Tabloids began reporting that they split due to Mellencamp’s “redneck ways” but Christie was quick to write a whole post defending her ex and explaining how important it was to stand up for others. The couple remained friends after their split and when asked about a reconciliation, Christie said,”You never know, good friendship is the basis for everything, right?”

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Not The Fairytale

Still Got It!

In 2017, after a lot of persuasion, Christie agreed to pose alongside her two daughters in a Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot. Christie proved that she’s still a star and said of her decision to pose at 63, “When I turned 30, I was like, ‘This is the last time I’m posing in a bathing suit!’ When this issue comes out, I’ll be 63. I thought, ‘Those days are over.’ But to get to do it with my girls, I thought, ‘One last go!”

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Still Got It!