Monday, October 11, 2010

Style Icon: Cheryl Tiegs

If Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy were the faces of the 1960’s, then Cheryl Tiegs had to be the face of the 1970’s and indeed on into the 1980’s. She was the all American girl next door. She exuded the casual American active lifestyle but still had an air of allure and sexiness and made her a favorite of just about everyone.

Cheryl Rae Tiegs was born on September 27, 1947 on a farm in Breckenridge, Minnesota. The daughter of Theodore and Phyllis Tiegs, she moved with her family to the Los Angeles suburb of Alhambra in 1952. She attended Alhambra High School, where she was a pep rally leader and played violin in the orchestra. She graduated in 1965. She then went on to attend California State University, Los Angeles and became a little sister to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

On the advice of a friends, a teenaged Cheryl auditioned for and was cast in a handful of television commercials. The exposure coupled with her girl next door look landed her on the cover of Glamour magazine in 1964. Inundated with offers, she moved to New York City in hopes of launching a professional modeling career while her plans to graduate college fell by the wayside.

After initially struggling to find work, Tiegs' eventually landed photo shoots with high profile magazines like Vogue and Elle. However, it was the 1978 swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated that changed her career. The now-famous photograph, which featured Tiegs in a seemingly innocent white swimsuit, epitomized her perfect combination of girl-next-door innocence and innate sexuality. The Sports Illustrated feature lead to a wealth of opportunities, including the cover of Time magazine and a $1.5 million contract with Cover Girl cosmetics.

Her long-running affiliation with the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, featured her on the cover in 1970, 1975, 1978 and 1983. The 1978 poster of her in a pink bikini became an iconic 1970s pop culture image.

While posing for the 1978 swimsuit issue, she took a quick dip in the water on the beach wearing a white cotton fishnet swimsuit. When she emerged from the water, photographers—professional and amateur—flocked to her and asked her to pose for an extended amount of time—about 50 minutes. She later said she claimed to have no idea why the photographers suddenly took such an interest in her, and didn't discover why until she saw the final prints from the shoot: When wet, the suit became translucent.

In 1980, Tiegs published The Way to Natural Beauty and began using her name and knowledge of fashion to create signature designs for Sears, Roebuck and Co. With in a year, the Cheryl Tiegs casual sportswear line was sold at over 700 stores nationwide and accounted for an estimated $100 million in revenue. Considered one of the pioneers of celebrity-endorsed apparel and credited with bringing sex appeal to the 100-year-old chain, Tiegs was featured on the cover of Time magazine for a second time in 1984.

Tiegs' clothing line was discontinued in 1989, at which time she signed on as the spokesperson for Light 'n' Lively yogurt. In 1995, 47-year-old Tiegs made a very visible comeback when she posed for her fifth Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. She also reentered the fashion business with a new line of womenswear (sold exclusively on QVC), as well as a line of wigs and hair accessories for Revlon Cosmetics. In November 2000, at a gala at the Beverly Wilshire, Tiegs was honored as the first MAC Fashion Icon, a fitting tribute to the all-American girl who became the first American supermodel.

Tiegs has been married four times: to advertising executive Stan Dragoti (from 1970-79); to photographer Peter Beard (from 1981-83); to aspiring actor Anthony Peck (from 1990-94), with whom she has one son, Zachary; and most recently to yoga instructor Rod Stryker. After numerous vain attempts to become pregnant on their own, Tiegs and Stryker hired a surrogate mother to carry their child. In July 2000, they became the parents of twin sons, Jaden and Reid. Tiegs and Stryker divorced in 2001.

Tiegs has resumed modeling, and is appearing in the HGTV series Living With Ed. She was a judge on the ABC series True Beauty which premiered on January 5, 2009. Cheryl is also a spokesperson for Cambria, the only manufacturer of quartz kitchen work surfaces in America.

She appeared in Vincent Gallo's controversial film The Brown Bunny, and played herself in two episodes of the TV comedy series Just Shoot Me as well as the Moonlighting episode "It's a Wonderful Job".


  1. How interesting! I wonder when she will be making it to the Blonde Ambition Barbie series... or if she will! :)

  2. What a varied career - I had no idea she was involved in so much in her lifetime. And wow, to be on the cover of a Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover at 47-years-old...good for her!


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