Interviews


Cindy Crawford


Occupation: Actress, Model
Date of Birth: February 20, 1966
Place of Birth: De Kalb, Ill., USA
Sign: Sun in Pisces, Moon in Pisces
Relations: Husband: Rande Gerber (nightclub owner); ex-husband: Richard Gere;son (with Gerber): Presley Walker
Education: Northwestern University dropout

 

ONE sticky summer day near De Kalb, Illinois, a sixteen-year-old lass named Cindy Crawford was earning her summer wages by detasselling corn, when along came a photographer from a local newspaper who snapped her picture. The photograph portrayed a girl of exceptional, all-American beauty, and it generated enough positive feedback to convince its comely subject to quit her farm-labor gig and spend the summer modelling. But young Crawford's good-fortune story did not end there. This former maiden of the cornfield would go on to parlay her charismatic beauty into a career as a multimillion-dollar commercial pitchwoman, TV personality, fitness-video vixen, and attempted movie star.

Her purse bloated from two summers' worth of paychecks from the Chicago office of the Elite modelling agency, Crawford enrolled at Northwestern University to study chemical engineering on an academic scholarship. You see, the all-American girl is more than just a pretty face; she's smart too, and made straight As all through high school. It only took Crawford less than one quarter to determine that modeling was potentially a far more lucrative (and fabulous) career than engineering, and she ditched college to model full-time for Chicago photographer Victor Skrebneski. In 1986, having made it big in Chicago, Crawford moved to New York to make it really big.

Within two years of arriving in the Big Apple, Crawford had become a genuine supermodel, sashaying down top runways, gracing top magazine covers, attending top parties, and earning top dollars. In 1988, she made a gutsy decision to become the first modern supermodel to pose for Playboy. Among those impressed by the layout were executives at MTV, who subsequently hired Crawford to host the network's fashion program, House of Style  she held that job for six successful years. Crawford again proved to be an entrepreneurial risk-taker by launching a best-selling series of swimsuit calendars when her shots for a Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue got cut from the final spread. She jeopardized her commercial contracts by posing suggestively on a 1993 cover of Vanity Fair with openly gay chanteuse k.d. lang. When fellow mannequins Naomi Campbell, Elle Macpherson, and Claudia Schiffer invested in the Fashion CafT enterprise, a savvy Crawford opted instead to buy a piece of Planet Hollywood.

In the usually fickle world of high fashion, Crawford remained the hottest of properties for an unprecedented ten years after beginning her modelling career. By 1995, Forbes calculated that she was the planet's highest-paid model, with annual earnings in the neighborhood of $6.5 million (Schiffer ranked second at $5.3 million). The business magazine attributed Crawford's continued financial success to her gender-crossing appeal and her ability to sell her name and face for commercial endorsements on a scale similar to that of professional athletes. Her company, Crawdaddy Inc., was raking in the bulk of its fees from Pepsi, Kay Jewelers, and Revlon, which signed Crawford to a multiyear, seven-figure contract. Before passing her thirtieth birthday, Crawford had begun to reposition herself for a post-modelling career. She stepped down from House of Style, pulled up stakes in Manhattan, and moved her base to Los Angeles, where she signed up for her first feature film, the box-office bomb Fair Game, in which she co-starred with Billy Baldwin. Undaunted by the movie's critical and financial failure, Crawford is currently investigating other film projects and other business opportunities (she will likely launch her own line of cosmetics), including plugging her new how-to book entitled Cindy Crawford's Basic Face: A Makeup Workbook.

Though she is a shrewd operator in a bitchy business, Crawford has, by most accounts, retained her Midwestern values of courtesy and kindness. For example, Crawford, the middle daughter of a blue-collar family, donated the proceeds from her calendar sales to leukemia charities in the name of her brother Jeff, who succumbed to the disease at age three. "No one in the fashion world is perfect, but Cindy represents the absolute best that modelling has to offer," says journalist Michael Gross, who wrote the modelling exposT Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women. Crawford's charm extends into her personal life: she attracted the eye of actor Richard Gere, seventeen years her senior, and after dating for four years, they married in December 1991. Their quickie Las Vegas ceremony, which featured wedding rings made of tinfoil, cemented what appeared to be a perfect union, if not to all observers, then at least to People magazine, which dubbed the duo the Sexiest Couple Alive. Three years later, and mere months after Crawford and Gere took out a $30,000, full-page ad in the London Times that declared their love to be true and of the heterosexual variety, Crawford filed for divorce. After wining and dining a string of high-profile escorts, including actors Robert De Niro and Val Kilmer, Crawford married nightclub owner Rande Gerber in 1998; the couple welcomed their first child, a son named Presley Walker, the following year.

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