Teri Shields, 79; launched daughter Brooke’s career

Teri Shields at her daughter’s graduation from Princeton.
Associated Press/file 1987
Teri Shields at her daughter’s graduation from Princeton.

NEW YORK — Teri Shields, 79, 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 in the 1978 film ‘‘Pretty Baby,’’ died Oct. 31 in Manhattan.

Her death followed a long illness related to dementia, a spokesman for Brooke Shields said.

Teri Shields was a single mother when she began managing her 11-month-old daughter, finding her a job in an advertisement for Ivory soap. When Brooke was 10, she arranged for a photographer to take nude pictures of her. Then came ‘‘Pretty Baby,’’ a Calvin Klein jeans campaign when she was 15, and more movies.


Ms. Shields said later that she had been like any parent who tries to do what she thinks is best for her child — and that in this case it seemed wise to take advantage of her daughter’s striking beauty. She also noted Brooke’s acquiescence.

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“Fortunately, Brooke was at an age where she couldn’t talk back,’’ she told the television interviewer Bill Boggs a few years after ‘‘Pretty Baby’’ was released in 1978.

In that interview Teri Shields said that people who accused her of exploiting her child were jealous. She also spoke bluntly about her daughter’s appeal.

‘‘They see total innocence, which is totally there,’’ she said, as Brooke sat beside her. ‘‘And two, they have the sexy child too, they have the sexy person — that appeals to them.’’

Boggs interrupted: ‘‘Yeah, it’s the forbidden fruit.’’


Teri Shields responded, ‘‘Yes, and yet it’s all wrapped up in one, and that is really appetizing.’’

Theresa Anna Lillian Schmon was born on Aug. 11, 1933, in Newark. She worked as a hairstylist, a makeup artist for Lord & Taylor, and a model, according to a statement from Brooke Shields. She married Francis Alexander Shields in 1964, and Brooke was born the next year.

“It was then that Teri found her career’’ as her daughter’s manager, Brooke Shields wrote.

Teri Shields and her husband divorced when their daughter was a few months old. Besides Brooke, Ms. Shields leaves a sister and two granddaughters.

Brooke Shields, who is now 47, went on to have an enduring acting and modeling career. She would not comment on her relationship with her mother for this obituary, but she has said in past interviews that it became strained when she began managing her career herself in her 20s. She has also described her mother’s troubles with alcohol.


‘‘I grew up in an alcoholic household,’’ Brooke Shields told The New York Times in 1994. ‘‘I’m the caretaker who wants to make everything better, and you can just do that for so long, or so I’ve been told.’’

Interviewed for that same article, Teri Shields said she could not discuss her daughter’s professional plans.

‘‘Talk to Brookie,’’ she said. But she added, ‘‘Brookie doesn’t know what she’s talking about.’’