Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

It’s been 45 years since America’s first supermodel Cheryl Tiegs teased the hearts of men around the world with her iconic pink bikini poster image.

Since then, she was a popular cover girl for many magazines, including Sports Illustrated, Vogue, Glamour, and Time, and later she leveraged her celebrity as an advocate to save our dying planet, along with prioritizing her health and happiness.

But, regardless of her philanthropic profile, Tiegs is not without controversy, specifically her criticizing Sports Illustrated in its judgment of “glamorizing” a “full-figured model.”  

Head and Shoulders of Cheryl Tiegs. From 1978.

Growing up in Alhambra, near Pasadena, Tiegs, 75, started her career after a friend suggested she could be a model.

“I thought models were from another planet, and it was just out of the realm of possibility,” Tiegs said, adding that while in school, she slowly worked towards modeling. She mostly appeared in department store fashion shows in a parking lot, first for free and then earning $5 an hour, which “was great money for me at the time. I was thrilled. I just worked hard, and I did anything and everything I could.”

After appearing in a multiple-page swimsuit spread, Tiegs, at only 17, was discovered by Glamour magazine and booked sight unseen for a shoot on the island of St. Thomas. This led to regular work through Glamour and placed her on an international stage of recognition, which resulted in her first professional appearance on the cover of a 1966 issue of Teen magazine.

Tiegs was also featured on the Sports Illustrated swimsuit editions in 1970, 1975, and 1983, and three covers of Time, most notably the All-American Model issue in 1978. In addition, Men’s Health named her one of the 100 Hottest Women of All Time in 2012.

Speaking of her earlier days as a model, Tiegs said, “I don’t know exactly what it’s like today, but I think that it’s much more catered to the models. They’re in the limelight much more; it just wasn’t like that.” She continued, “People magazine wasn’t even around when I first started modeling. There was no Entertainment Tonight; there was no CNN. There were no cell phones; there was no Twitter or Facebook. So, it was just immediate. It was more in the moment, and I liked that.”

In the 1980s, Tiegs made a transition to acting with her first TV appearance in a 1986 episode of Moonlighting, that starred Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis. She also had parts in Just Shoot Me and Family Guy, later in RuPaul’s Drag Race (2011), and as a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice in 2012, where she played for the Farrah Fawcett Foundation, which supports cancer research and awareness.

Cheryl Tiegs as she poses, dressed in a green and white striped bikini top and green-rimmed sunglasses, 1974. The photo was taken as part of a cover shoot for the May 1974 issue of Women’s Own magazine. (Photo by Susan Wood/Getty Images)

Tiegs can also be seen in the 2003 film The Brown Bunny with Chlöe Sevigny and Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens in 2016.

“When I was modeling, most of the girls became actresses, because that was the next logical step. I just decided I didn’t want to be an actress…”

She then added her wife and mom to her portfolio.

Married from 1970 to 1979 to director Stan Dragoti, known for the 1983 film Mr. Mom, Tiegs started a new adventure photographer and artist, Peter Beard, whom she married in 1981.

Cheryl Tiegs and her husband, film director Stan Dragoti, both barefoot and dressed in shorts and sweaters, as they sit at sunset on the ground outdoors at La Costa Resort & Spa, Carlsbad, California, October 1976. This photo was taken as part of a shoot for the magazine American Vogue. (Photo by Susan Wood/Getty Images)

Beard owned a ranch in Kenya, and the couple spent a lot of time there over the next couple of years. A time that she says gave her the “most amazing” experiences because “It brought me up to another level in life and taught me so much about the animal kingdom and nature. It was really one of my most important adventures.”

When the famed photographer died in 2020, Tiegs, who divorced Beard in 1983 recalled that “he was, I have to say, the most romantic love of my life. I fell deeply in love with him, and for that, I’m forever grateful.” She adds, “I always loved him.”

After her three-year marriage to Beard ended, the gorgeous supermodel married Anthony Peck, the son of the legendary Gregory Peck. With Peck, she was on diaper duty with her first son, Zachary (born in 1991), now an actor.

Divorcing Peck in 1995, she then married yoga teacher Rod Stryker (1998 to 2001), and though she says that there “doesn’t count,” because “it was so not a marriage,” the couple’s twin sons Jaden and Theo born via surrogate in 2001.

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Caring for children and wanting to give them a future, Tiegs turned her attention to the environment. Her philanthropic work includes global warming awareness and reproductive rights for women and she also served on the board of Earth Conservation Corps, in Washington, D.C.

“The world is getting smaller. I think we have to reach out and ally with all of our friends around the world because you can’t just be an isolated entity and expect to make a difference,” Cheryl said. She adds that she’s hiked to The Copper Canyon in Mexico to visit the Tarahumara natives–a civilization of people who live in natural shelters like caves or cliff overhangs–and explored the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and the melting Barnes Ice Cap.

In 2013, Tiegs made headlines when she put her 4,770-square-foot Balinese-inspired Bel-Air home on the market for $12 million. The home sold in 2020 for well over the asking price of $14,075,000.

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It was in 2016 when she uttered some words alluding that Sports Illustrated was encouraging an unhealthy lifestyle by using Ashley Graham, a plus-sized model on its cover.

“I don’t like that we’re talking about full-figured women because it’s glamorizing them because your waist should be smaller than 35 [inches]. That’s what Dr. Oz said, and I’m sticking to it,” Tiegs explained on E! News. “No, I don’t think it’s healthy. Her face is beautiful. Beautiful. But I don’t think it’s healthy in the long run.”

Defending herself the next year, Tiegs accused the media of sensationalizing her comments, “because really all I was doing was trying to look out for the health of someone who’s too thin or going on the other side of the scale,” Tiegs said in 2017. “It’s just about finding your own healthy path. That’s all. I don’t know her; I don’t know if she’s healthy or not. That’s up to her.

As for Tiegs, she keeps fabulously fit and effortlessly beautiful with a healthy lifestyle that includes yoga and healthy eating.

“You can’t just hope that it happens; you really have to make the effort. It’s a daily effort of eating the right foods and exercise. As you age, maybe you cut back on your exercise; maybe you’re not doing the fun Zumba classes you always did. But always incorporate some kind of exercise into your life.” She continues, “Do something that makes you happy. I love reading, and I gave that up for a while. Now I’m back to that. Find friends who make you laugh. I just want friends in my life who are positive influences–that’s where I’m at now. It’s a nice, healthy, happy state.”

Cheryl Tiegs is still so beautiful at 75 and she is such a great role model with all the work the does.

What do you think of Tiegs and her opinions on slim figures equalling good health?