There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me

BOOK: There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me
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Copyright © 2014 by Brooke Shields

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DUTTON—EST. 1852 (Stylized) and DUTTON are registered trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

All interior images but the photograph on pages 218, 293, and 295 are courtesy of the author. The photograph on page 218 is copyright © Neil Preston and Photoshot. The photographs on pages 293 and 295 are copyright © Lara Porzak.

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA HAS BEEN APPLIED FOR.

ISBN 978-0-698-18623-1

While the author has made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers, Internet addresses, and other contact information at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes any responsibility for errors or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

Penguin is committed to publishing works of quality and integrity. In that spirit, we are proud to offer this book to our readers; however, the story, the experiences, and the words are the author’s alone.

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Contents

Title Page

Copyright

Epigraph

Introduction

Part One

Chapter One
Teri Terrific
Chapter Two
Shields and Co.
Chapter Three
She Could Make It Rain
Chapter Four
If You Die, I Die

Part Two

Chapter Five
Pretty Baby
Chapter Six
Fuck ’Em If They Can’t Handle It
Chapter Seven
Are You Finished?
Chapter Eight
Blue
Chapter Nine
The Brooke Doll

Part Three

Chapter Ten
Remember the Hula-Hoop
Chapter Eleven
America’s Sweetheart
Chapter Twelve
I Wish I Only Knew You in the Mornings, Mama

Part Four

Chapter Thirteen
We Met by Fax
Chapter Fourteen
MIA
Chapter Fifteen
Toots
Chapter Sixteen
I Know Your Kind

Part Five

Chapter Seventeen
Tag Sale
Chapter Eighteen
They Die Feetfirst
Chapter Nineteen
Cremation/Look, Ma, No Pants!
Chapter Twenty
Returning Home

Epilogue

Photographs

Acknowledgments

—Brooke Shields’s baby photo album, 1965
There was a little girl,
And she had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good
She was very, very good,
And when she was bad she was horrid.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Introduction

I
’m told that even decorated soldiers’ last words are often calling for “Mommy.”

That is the first feeling that washed over me.

And on November 5, 2012, six days after I watched my mother die right in front of me, I opened up the
New York Times
obituaries and the feeling hit again . . . but it came with a wave of anger. I was so hurt my vision blurred. I couldn’t believe what I’d just read, and I asked myself: How could I have been so stupid and so naïve? How could I have let my guard down? How could they have done this to my mommy?

•   •   •

Days earlier, I’d written my own simple and rather short obituary about my mom and had sent in the required $1,500. The following afternoon I got a call from the
Times
saying they wanted to print it on the front page of the obituary section. I said they could position it wherever they wanted.

They explained that they thought Mom deserved to have a more prominent placement. This made me feel like maybe after all these years, Mom would finally get some modicum of respect. And deep down we all want to know our moms deserve respect, don’t we? The
Times
added that they didn’t want me to pay the $1,500, but I explained that I was fine paying and thanked them for the offer. Suddenly the
person on the other end of the phone stated that the obituary was, in fact, already being moved to a more prominent part of the paper, so a bit more copy would be needed. This was the first red flag.

“I am not giving an interview. Publish my written obit, please.”

“Well, we may just need one or two additional facts that you could clarify.”

“Listen, I submitted my personally written obituary about my mother and I sent in a check. Thank you.”

“OK, we don’t want to upset you. . . . How about we just take your obit and print that but add one or two additional facts about her upbringing and the like?”

“Fine.”

They indeed called and asked one question about her deceased brother and if she had lived in any other city in New Jersey before moving to New York City. It was a two-minute phone call and it seemed fine. I was satisfied.

•   •   •

A few days later, on the stoop of my apartment, I was shocked and horrified to read a piece I’d known nothing about. It was a scathing, judgmental critique of my mother’s life. I gasped and stared, wide-eyed, at the nasty, venomous piece of so-called journalism.

The first line read, “Teri Shields, who began promoting her daughter, Brooke, as a child model and actress when she was an infant and allowed her to be cast as a child prostitute . . . died on Wednesday.” What an opener!

BOOK: There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me
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